My birthday is a week before Valentine’s Day and floral arrangements from either or both my husband and son were a given until I diplomatically cried, “No more cut flowers, please! I want a flowering plant that I can enjoy year-round.”
The instant flowers are cut, they begin their journey towards death. With a flowering plant, especially cold-loving cyclamen or hellebores, the gift is just the beginning.
Both bloom for months and grow either again from a dormant tuber or outdoors in the shade. After enjoying hellebore flowers for a month or so, you can plant them outside when the ground thaws enough to dig a hole. They laugh at the cold and keep on blooming.
Photo courtesy of Skagit Gardens.
Cyclamen flower for several months indoors, as long as they are kept cool. When plants finish their bloom cycle, feed them with diluted water-soluble fertilizer so they put out more leaves to increase the size of their underground tuber. By June, plant go dormant, leaves die and tubers should be removed from pots to dry and store. They’ll bloom again the following winter.
Other easily found flowering plants such as African violets and Peace lilies bloom year-round indoors in the right light conditions. Neither need strong direct light, but do well in an east-facing window or a three or four feet away from the bright light of west and south windows.
Even orchids, particularly phaleonopsis, and Anthurium can be grown indoors throughout the year. Though, I get better flowering results if I put both outside in a sheltered northeast spot for the summer. Red-flowered Anthurium are perfect for Valentine’s Day, because the blooms are heart shaped!
Miniature roses are another good choice to give or receive as a token of love. Enjoy the blooms for several months by placing the plant in strong light. Deadhead spent flowers, fertilize and then wait until outdoor temperatures warm. The little flower powerhouses look terrific in containers on the patio or deck and do well in the ground in climates where temperatures don’t go below 10ºF in the winter.
All the plants I mentioned and more can be found at local garden centers or ordered from flower delivery services.
I’m hoping for red Anthurium this week. You can print out this article and leave it in a spot where your Valentine is certain to see it. Let me know what you receive or give.
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Doreen Howard has written for The Old Farmer's Almanac All-Seasons Garden Guide for 15 years and is the former garden editor at Woman’s Day as well as a photographer. She has grown more than 300 varieties of heirloom edibles and flowers in the last two decades.