Why Are Flowers Brightly Colored?

Are you really a gardener if you haven’t marveled over the array of colors in the garden? That’s a trick question because the answer is always no. Flowers have inspired human beings for centuries, and our love for flowers shows no signs of slowing down. Their colors can range from vivid pinks to awe-inspiring red to delicate pinks and yellows.

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But why are flowers brightly colored? From genetics right through to reproduction and attracting specific pollinators. The color of a flower is more than just a pretty face. Their color has a more scientific purpose than it may first seem. A purpose that keeps nature and the way it works functioning and healthy.

Read on further to discover why flowers have certain colors, how they get those colors and which color is the rarest in our flowers.

Why Do Flowers Have Color?

There are many reasons as to why flowers have color and aren’t found in just one bog-standard color. Such as attracting specific pollinators, genetic influences, and certain chemical pigments that provide our flowers with their signature colors.

For Pollination

Pollinators are one of the most important reasons as to why you can find every color of the rainbow on wild and garden cultivated flowers. 

Almost 75% of all flowering plants require pollinator intervention to grow and reproduce.

Without our tiny but important insects, many of our flowering plants would wither and die, with no means to reproduce or regrow.

This would not only have a massive impact on the way our countrysides look but also on the foods that would be available to us.

Insects aren’t only attracted to bright colors.

Different pollinators prefer certain colors over others.

Such as the humble bee, who prefers bright blue and violet colors. In contrast, butterflies love red, pink, fuchsia, or purple flowers.

*Pro-Tip – If you’re looking to attract certain pollinators, such as butterflies, you can encourage more of them to visit your outdoor space by introducing flowers in their favorite colors.

Even flies have a color preference. 

So if you are trying to avoid a fly swarm every summer, it’s a good idea to avoid too many yellow flowers in your garden or to attract more birds who will have a feast on those pesky flies.

Genetic Influence

The genetics of your flowers also has a massive part to play when it comes to deciding their color.

The colors of their parent plants have huge sway over what color and look they will have.

Much like we, as humans, inherit our parents’ genetic traits. 

Yet what would happen if we mixed to different parent plants? What color would our flower be then?

Cross-pollination has been a naturally occurring process over the years that has yielded a wonderful array of flowers.

It’s the reason we have so many different types of flowers in such a large variety of colors.

However, forced cross-pollination is something our gardening experts and scientists have been doing in recent years to produce not only new and fantastic colors for our favorite flowers but also to make them more pest resistant.

How Do Flowers Get Their Color?

There are two main pigments found in flowers that hold the deciding factor over a flower’s final color. These are anthocyanins and carotenoids.

Anthocyanin pigments are usually found in red, pink, blue, and purple flowers. Such as Roses, tulips, marigolds, and peonies.

In comparison, carotenoid pigments are found in some flowers that have yellow, red, and orange colors. Such as Sunflowers and tomatoes.

There is one other pigment, a name you may already be well familiar with, chlorophyll. 

This pigment is responsible for all the lush green shades you see on almost every single plant that grows.

Although most flowers get their color from just one of these pigments, there are a few that get their color from a combination of both anthocyanin pigments and carotenoid pigments.

These pigments aren’t the only color deciding factor, though. 

The temperature, the amount of light they receive as they grow, and even the PH of the soil can affect the color of a flower.

Environmental stressors can have a profound effect on a flowers’ final color. 

Have you ever seen those beautiful hydrangeas?

Many people have bought a stunning pink variation, planted it in their garden only for it to reflower in a completely unexpected purple hue.

This is a solid visual of the effect a soil’s PH level, an environmental stressor, can have on the color of a flower.

Another fantastic thing about how the color of a flower is controlled by its pigments is that the lower the amount of pigment found in a flower, the lighter and more pastel its color will be.

But what about night-blooming flowers? I hear you cry!

Night-blooming flowers are a fantastic example of evolution in plants.

Not only do they experience very little light and a lot less warmth, but the pollinators they are trying to attract are usually unable to see differentiate one color from another. 

Commonly, night-blooming flowers will have very little to no pigment at all.

They make up for this lack of vivid color with heavenly scents made especially to attract their nocturnal pollinators, like moths.

Some popular night-blooming flowers are:

  • Moonflower
  • Evening Primrose
  • Datura *Caution this flower is highly poisonous
  • Brugmansia
  • Night Blooming Jasmine

The range in color from a crisp white through to very pale yellows and pinks, thanks to their very low levels of color pigments.

What Colors Can You Find In Flowers?

One of the reasons humans adore flowers like we do, aside from their delicious smells, is that there is a color for everyone out there. Practically every color under the sun can be found in our floral friends.

Here are some of our favorite colored flowers:

Red

  • Poppies
  • Roses
  • Calla Lillies
  • Tulips
  • Carnations

Blue

  • Delphiniums
  • Asters
  • Hydrangeas
  • Iris’
  • Forget Me Nots

Pink

  • Nerines
  • Penstemons
  • Echinaceas
  • Clematis
  • Magnolia Blooms

Yellow

  • Sunflowers
  • Pansies
  • Dahlias
  • Marigolds
  • Daffodils

Orange

  • Nasturtiums
  • Eremurus
  • Trumpet Honeysuckle
  • Cosmos
  • Carnations

And that’s just to name a few.

What’s even more delightful about flowers is that many different types of flowers can be found in a variety of colors and shades.

We all know roses can come in colors from cream, pink, yellow right through to red and black. 

The human eye has a huge impact on the colors we find in flowers. 

Although the human eye can perceive most colors in the spectrum, each eye may see those colors differently. 

So a red rose to you may seem far more vibrant to someone else.

What Is The Most Common Flower Color?

Depending on where you live, you may have a different opinion on the answer. Discovering the most common flower color is an almost impossible question to answer as there are far too many variables when it comes to flowers and their colors. 

Also, no one has actually surveyed every flower to exist on our planet.

Many of our flowers haven’t even been discovered or given names yet. This is why it’s impossible to know exactly what flower color is the most common. 

Many flowers may even change color as they age.

Starting as soft pinks in the infancy but reaching deep maroons once they are fully established.

Possibly even turning brown as they contuse to age further. 

However, some consider that green may be the most common flower color.

There are many trees and flowers that bear mostly green blooms. 

Being aware that no one knows what color is more commonly found in the natural world, we can hazard a guess with the small amount of information we do have.

What Is The Rarest Flower Color?

Blue may be one of the rarest colors you can find through flower species. Many flowers that we consider to be blue are more likely to be shades of purple and lavender. 

However, some scientists believe that black is one of the rarest colors found in the floral world.

This is also where the human eye calls into question everything we know about flowers and their colors.

What may look like a red flower to you may look more orange to your neighbor. 

Then you have flowers that are multicolored, and you have to decide if the color of that flower is decided by its base colors or its top colors. 

Really, with our lack of a complete picture, it’s impossible to know exactly which flower color is the rarest, and, at best, we can hazard a guess.

Finally

Flowers really are the truest gem in our natural world.

Without them, our natural landscapes would be dull.

Rolling hills of heather would be nothing more than gray, rocky hills.

Wildflower fields would be nothing more than swaying, heaps of dull green, and with time, thanks so no pollinator-attracting color, everything we love about our countrysides would be gone.

Appreciating our colorful world is something we all do. It’s been our inspiration for more than just art and music but permeates everything that we do, see, feel and eat.