Posted on: February 14, 2020 | Written By: Doug Oster |
We all know a dozen roses are the traditional (required?) gift for Valentine’s Day, along with some candy, a nice card and maybe even a special dinner.
Those cut flowers always look great on Feb. 14, but in about a week, they dry and shrivel, sadly looking down at the floor. Then they’re sent off to the compost pile or, worse, to the curb in the trash.
If roses are a mandatory gift at your house, bite the bullet and get them, but there are lots of other holiday-appropriate plants that can last for months and even years.
• Pick top-quality flowers — bought from a trusted source, like a good florist — that have not opened yet.
• Use a clean vase, sterilized with a 10-percent bleach solution.
• Remove any foliage that will be in water. The leaves will accelerate the growth of bacteria if left on the stems.
• Cut a half-inch off the bottom of the stems while underwater and transfer to the vase. Remove another half-inch of stem every other day.
• Change the water daily.
• Display the flowers in a cool place, if possible.
• A penny left in the bottom of the vase actually works. It acts as an acidifier to slow the growth of bacteria.
• In many cases, the flowers can be air-dried after a week or so. After they are dry, display them in a jar with a lid; they could last for years.
Another way to think about roses are as miniatures. These potted roses come in deep red, yellow, white and with variegated flowers. They can be kept alive indoors by the light of a window until late April when the hardy variety can be planted in the garden to return year after year.
Hardy azaleas can be treated the same way: After the flowers are gone, they can be put in the garden in spring as a perennial shrub.
One of the easiest and long-lived indoor plants is anthurium, a houseplant with a glossy red, heart-shaped growth called a spathe. It will happily grow on the windowsill, doesn’t need much from the gardener and will live for years as long as it’s not overwatered.
An indoor plant with no color connection to the holiday is jasmine. It might not be heart-shaped or red, but the intoxicating fragrance will make you a hero.
Cyclamen also lives on the windowsill, and the red, white or pink flowers can last for months if the plant is treated right. Keep the soil moist, letting it dry just a little between waterings. They do best if watered from below, keeping the foliage dry. Eventually, the plant will shift into dormancy. When it does, stop watering and store the pot in a cool, dark place for two months. A little water and light will start the cycle all over again.
Primroses often have bright red flowers with yellow centers. Never let them dry out; the plant can go out in the garden in April in a moist spot and will return each spring with cheery blooms.
Red begonias are shade lovers and will thrive indoors. Because they are tender, annual plants can be planted outdoors in late May after all chance of frost has passed.
One of the most indestructible indoor plants is kalanchoe, and there’s a beautiful double red flowering variety. It’s a succulent houseplant that, when kept dry, will live for years inside.
Cut roses might be essential for a happy Valentine’s Day, but plants that persist will remind your significant other of your love every time they bloom.
Doug Oster is editor of Everybody Gardens, a website operated by 535Media, LLC. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See other stories, videos, blogs, tips and more at everybodygardens.com.