For years, florists have pondered the same question: To dye or not to dye? Most have a strong opinion. Some believe that if they need a flower that doesn't grow in a particular color, using dye (either by spraying the flowers or by allowing the flowers to absorb color by dying the water they are in) is OK. There's always a bride who wants all of her flowers to be a certain color of blue, and many times those flowers are nearly impossible to find or are quite expensive.
Other florists believe that natural is the only way to go -- if it ain't in nature, it ain't in their bouquets.
Now this issue is popping up in the live plant world. Rijn Plant Breeding introduced a dye-infused anthurium ('Princess Alexia Yellow') to the European market last year. While it's not available in the United States (yet!), its introduction caused a stir.
Growers' responses fall into the same two categories as the florists. The naturalists believe consumers won't want artificially produced products. They suggest better breeding is the answer to the need for different colors in blooms.
Other growers say they should give consumers what they want, and if it's dye-infused plants, so be it. They do caution that the plants will need to be clearly marked telling the purchaser that they won't rebloom with the same color as when they were purchased.
What do you think? Is adding dye to a growing plant a travesty or the next great thing?
Cold frame workshop
West Virginia State University Extension Service is hosting a workshop on gardening using cold frame greenhouse systems 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 22 at the Rock Lake Community Life Center, 801 Lincoln Drive, South Charleston.
Cold frames are small structures with transparent roofs that are used to protect plants from cold weather, allowing for an early start to the growing season during late-winter months or as a season extender in late fall.
"Home gardeners looking for season extension can learn to build their own cold frame structure to enjoy early salad greens or to simply get a jumpstart on the season," said Scott Byars, program leader for agriculture and natural resources at the WVSU Extension Service.
The fee is $40 and the class is limited to 20 participants. Attendees will receive their own cold frame construction kit. Call 304-766-4288 or email extens...@wvstateu.edu.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.