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The Beloved Color That Can Be Both Soothing and Creepy is also the Holy Grail in Horticulture

Blue is everyone’s favorite color. That assurance comes according to countless studies that have been done on the subject, including those that have explored color preference by gender and age group. Blue consistently comes out on top.

According to color experts at the Pantone Color Institute, blue is considered a hopeful hue that “brings a sense of peace and tranquility.” Perhaps that’s why people love it so much. And that probably also why it’s so jarring to see a version of it as the official color of the creepy Bates Motel in the popular series on A&E Network. The particular color, described as a “radiantly intense blue,” is used on the motel’s sign and was developed in conjunction with Pantone. It’s called Bates Motel Blue and would look lovely in any space, if you dare to use it.

Fortunately, there is a full range of other blues—from delicate robin’s egg to dazzling sapphire—that don’t invoke thoughts of a demented murderer in the making. Unfortunately, few of those hues exist in fresh cut flowers, particularly among those suited for weddings and other celebrations. Although it’s possible to tint some types of flowers or to treat them so that their initial blooms are a lovely azure (such as those Phalaenopsis orchids you may have seen in supermarkets), it’s been estimated that less than 10 percent of the approximately 400,000 floral species naturally bloom in blue.

That’s why hybridizers and biologists have worked for decades to create a plant that would yield true-blue blossoms, with a blue rose being the much-sought-after prize. The results have been mixed and have mostly provided some wonderful lavender and purple options. That is until recently, when Japanese scientists managed to genetically alter a reddish chrysanthemum to induce the blues.

For now, concerns about genetically modified organisms, both in the United States and abroad, mean the mums’ viability for commercial production is questionable. However, this breakthrough could lead to other blue blossoms that may one day make it to the market. In the meantime, if you’re bonkers for blue, choose these natural beauties:

Ageratum • Agapanthus • Bachelor’s button (Centaurea) • Bellflower (Campanula) • Delphinium • Grape Hyacinth (Muscari) • Hyacinth • Hydrangea • Iris • Lavender •  Monkshood (Aconitum)  • Morning Glory  • Pansy (Viola wittrockiana) • Scabiosa •  Sea Holly (Eryngium) • Statice (Limonium sinuatum) • Tweedia