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Give your Valentine a flowering plant instead of flower, or ask your sweetheart for one.

February 1, 2011

Cold-loving flowering plants like cyclamen are gifts that keep on giving for months.

Credit: Doreen G. Howard
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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. 

Please post by commenting in the box below. Tell us what you think of our new gardening blog, share your tips, and ask questions!

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.

In stores now!

Look for Doreen's newest book, Heirloom Flavor: Yesterday's Best-Tasting Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs for Today's Cook. Find in stores everywhere including Walmart and on the Web including Amazon.com.


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Very interesting information.

By Akshay

Very interesting information. Thanks a lot for this. I completely agree with this. It's amazing images. Very good ideas for giving gifts.

ideal plants for north-facing windows

By Aunt Weezie

Hi, Doreen! My dining room is north-facing with a north-facing window. It's narrow and tall so the room is rather dark. Are there plants that you suggest for this room? I love flowers, but greenery is fine, too. Thanks!

Plants for North-facing Windows

By Doreen G. Howard

Aunt Weezie, I can sympathize.  I have a sunroom that faces north and east!  Had to add a skylight.  What grows well in the dark corners of that room are hanging baskets of pothos, spilt-leaf philodendron, ferns, Peace lily (spathaphyllum), primrose (they bloom) and cyclamen.  All are green, luxurious and make the house much brighter.

I totally agree!

By GingerVaughan

When my husband and I first got together, I put one rule out on the table--no cut flowers as gifts. They're always too expensive (especially around V-Day!) and I don't get the idea of giving something that will wither and die fairly quickly to express one's love.
I've gotten my fair share of potted plants over the years. I adore tulips, but I seem to be able to do better with non-flowering plants.
Great column!

I love tulips

By Mare-Anne Jarvela

I love buying and getting potted tulips this time of year. After the blooms fade I stick the pot in the basement. Come fall I plant the dried bulbs outside for spring bloom next year. Pick up some bright red tulips for your Valentine!!

Good ideas

By Catherine Boeckmann

Thanks, Doreen. I like the idea of a longer-lasting flower--esp the heart-shaped anthurium. And the idea of sharing this blog with my husband. :-) Happy birthday to you!

Re: Good Ideas

By Doreen G. Howard

I got red anthurium today from husband and my son sent me a catci dish garden for my birthday.

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