Dye-infused living plants. Whadya think ’bout that?

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First my disclaimer – I am a plant pathologist, not a horticulturist. But I do like plants A LOT.  Ever so often, something that I read captures my eye.  This week it was about dye-infused plants, in particular a spotlight on GreenhouseGrower.com about a dye-infused yellow anthurium (Princess Alexia Yellow) that was introduced to the European market.  This plant is not available to growers in the US.  I thought it was great because of the discussion that ensued amongst the readers of this site, usually professional ornamental production folks.

So the question is “Why dye the plant?”.  Short answer, to get a color that is desirable but not natural to the plant in question.  In the case of the introduced anthurium, it was to get that vibrant yellow in the flowers and the spadix of the plant.  Surprisingly, this is NOT NEW.  Dye-infused orchids have been available to consumers in the US.  Apparently, there is an effective method in getting the dyes into the flowers and keeping them there for a good while.  It is also interesting to note that flowers from new growth revert to their original color (typically white – surprise, surprise!).

As a curious plant lover – I would say “cool!” but I alway want that special color.  This is kinda nice but… color does not stay. Hence, the best use for this are as show plants that needs to be replaced once blooms are done.

As a inquiring plant pathologist, I would wonder what would this method of dye-infusion do to the rest of the plant.  Will it stress the plant and make it more susceptible to certain diseases?  To get to that answer, research must be done.

As a entrepreneuring plant pathologist, I am wondering how can we use this technique (and if it cost-effective) to transport pesticide into the plant where it might reside for several months, thus allowing the pesticide to provide long term protection to the plant.

I like to think that the questions I have are interesting.  One of the things that drew me to this article was the discussion that was generated.  Comments from folk liking it to folks who vehemently dislike it.  Sentiments are high when you hear things like ” fake plant”.  In defense of the plant – the plant is indeed real, only that human messed with a few showy parts.  Whadya think?    What will they think of next….

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