Good colour choice to 'keep the purple'?

I’ve been wanting to try using ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ for its deep purple colour but haven’t been able to acquire a plant. I have, however, been able to purchase a plant of ‘Wild Rover’ ('Wild Rover' Rose) which is also quite a dark purple. This is a shrub/climber and I’d like to match it up to something to keep the colour or deepen it and so was wondering what colours, in terms of dominance, work well with the deep purples (once I have an idea of colour compatibility I’ll cull for hardiness/diease in my area)?

Midnight Blue

Basye’s Purple has the deepest purple blooms I’ve ever seen. I grow it. It isn’t one of these ‘let’s call it purple because in late fall the petals are more purple than pink’. I was impressed by the variability in purple petals on some of the modern FLs in Elizabeth Park two years ago. But almost all of them had more purple in the shadier parts of the plant.

Basye’s purple is in your face deep purple, whenever it blooms.

I most emphatically second Robert’s suggestion of ‘Midnight Blue’, which has bred some outstanding colors for me.


Last year, I got a little purple polyantha Sven. Beautiful grape colored flowers. It was a happy accident. I’m not sure it’s in introduction just yet, but it should be. If you get it, you ought to try it. It’s, to my knowlege, a diploid and looks like a miniature Vielchenblau. The parentage was Mevrouw Nathalie Nypels X a found polyantha seedling.

I will try to use it next year with other purple minis… Blue Bird or Sweet Chariot comes in my mind immediately.


Thanks for that. I’ve never seen Midnight Blue in Australia. I know Route 66, Rhapsody in Blue, Vielchenblau, are available and a few light purples (not what I’m after).Basye’s Purple is not, as far as I know, here either. I do have ‘Wild Rover’ and am trying to find Rhapsody in Blue. Is there anything you could put with it that doesn’t mess with the purple? What effect do different colours have on purple?

Ann Endt seems more fertile than Basye’s Purple …

Ann Endt IS available here :slight_smile:

A number of years ago I did a little pH testing of rose petals and made some suggestions in light of the work by the breeding group on color inheritance from the Netherlands. It is useful to think if color inheritance in terms of the two main pigments that control it- anthocyanins (pinks, purples, reds…) and carotenoids (warm colors). Anthocyanins are water soluble and are in the vacole of cells and carotenoids are fat soluble in plastids. They are separate pigments in separate areas of the cell and together can give the overall color effect we see. There are a few anthocyanins in roses, cyanin (most common), peonin, and pelargonin. Factors like vacuole pH is one of a few things that affect the color we see. We can take rose petals and grind them up with distilled water and pH the solution. Higher pH tends to allow the anthocyanin to appear more blue to the eye. Roses that blue with age tend to have a pH increase. So, high pH from the beginning would help start out and keep purple coloration. When I did these pH’s I found that ‘Rise N’ Shine’ had a relatively high petal pH. Although it is yellow, it may be a good rose to cross with purples to get a color effect like ‘Kalidescope’ or ‘Distant Drums’.

It might be counter intuitive that high pH brings about bluer color. We acidify soil to make hydrangeas blue. What matters though for color in the petal is pH in the petal cells.

As you consider what roses to cross to maintain purple, I encourage you do try to do some pH’s on the parents you are considering. I think it would be very intersting to pH petals of Iceberg versus Brilliant Pink Iceberg versus Burgundy Iceberg and see how the pH’s vary.



The standard litmus test is blue in base and red/pink in acid (extracted from a lichen) and I have found that many pigments extracted from flowers can be used as acid/base indicators (like the stock standard red cabbage and beetroot test). If you take a hibiscus flower and dunk it, like a tea bag, in boiling water the cells rupture and the pigment mixes with the water and when you put bleach in the water it turns blue/purple. Put vinegar in the water and it goes yellow/green. I’ve done this with roses too. So I guess it stands to reason that this would happen at a cellular level as well. So a few petals crushed in a mortar and pestel mixed with some distilled water will do the trick? How did you measure pH? I have a pH probe on a data logger that could do it but I’d have to use a fair bit of water to cover the glass membrane.

Could probably mush up a petal and use a pH tester for an aquarium (theyre cheap). However, the problem is uniformity of petal extract into a uniform amount of water.

I teach a plant physiology class where we do a lab on plant pigments. I added pH buffers to the lab after noting that a plain water extraction of Delphinium petals changed the color from true blue to grey-purple. The alkaline pH buffer generally returns it to blue, the acid to more of a pink. Years ago, I did an experiment where I was able to shift an anthocyanin pigment (from lily, if memory serves), all the way to blue and them a weird, blue-tinted green. It

Personally, I would try Baby Faurax x Ann Endt, but that is me.

Simon, I will “third” Robert’s and Paul’s suggestion to use ‘Midnight Blue’. It is a solid purple with lots of purples going into it in breeding. Tom Carruth did a fantastic job with that rose. ‘Route 66’ has similar breeding and would be a good second choice if MB is not available.

Purples tend to do best with other purples. Most other colors will give you pinks.

pH is interesting. I wonder if on an organelle level whether pH levels are even more dramatic than when whole petals are crushed and measured??

Jim Sproul

What about Ebb Tide? Has anyone used this? It’s just been released here this year.

It has a very similar heritage to Midnight Blue

Identical even!

Ebb Tide would also be a worthwhile selection to work with. It is fully fertile in both directions.

Here is one example of the kind of results I am getting from ‘Midnight Blue’ as a seed parent.

It blues more with age, as you can see in the second example. This seedling has superb vigor and makes a very full, upright shrub with dense healthy foliage, to about 5 feet (so far). It roots easily from cuttings and performs very well as own-root.

Second photo in next post…

Same seedling, day two.