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Hanbidge on Horticulture: Valentine's Day and flowers

Caring for your special gift.
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Over Valentine's, more than 250 million roses will be harvested and bring in over $2 billion in sales.

The most popular day to give flowers is Valentine's Day. It is one of the busiest days for florists, candy shops, lingerie shops and restaurants. It is "expected" to give and receive flowers, and chocolate, to go for a romantic date and more.

During Victorian times, flowers were given special meanings and small bouquets would be given to sweethearts to demonstrate love. The rose has been forever a symbol of love, beauty and peace and evidence of cultivation of roses dates back to over 5,000 years ago. Over Valentine's, over 250 million roses will be harvested and bring in over two billion dollars in sales.

If you received cut flowers from your valentine, then here are a few tips to prolong their life and beauty. Begin with a clean vase. If your container was previously used, then wash it with hot, soapy water to remove any debris and destroy bacteria and fungi that might shorten the life of your cut flowers. Cut off the bottom half-inch of your flowers to aid in water uptake. Ensure all foliage is removed beneath the water line. When your flowers begin to wilt, just give them a quick recut to ensure the stems can take water up to the blooms and rewash and refill the vase with clean water as well as more of the floral preservative if you have some.

There are many other popular choices of flowers to give on Valentine’s Day. Miniature roses are a popular choice as a planted gift for this special day. They need bright light so place them in a south or west-facing window. Miniature roses need a consistent moisture supply so ensure you water them when the surface of the media is dry to the touch. Fertilize weekly with a high phosphorus fertilizer to keep them blooming. Watch them closely as they tend to get spider mites very easily.

One other popular plant at this time of year is the azalea. They are beautiful plants and tend to bloom for long periods. They prefer bright light but a cool location with temperatures around 60 F (15 C) is just about perfect. Water azaleas thoroughly whenever the service of the media feels dry. When they have finished blooming they are usually discarded.

Remember that our homes are not welcoming to plants that would normally live in areas with brighter light and higher humidity. Our plants in our houses are stressed during our long winter months so ensure you are giving them the care they deserve for brightening up our lives.

One needs to go no further than your nearest grocer to find many options to cheer your home. There are cheery little pots of miniature daffodils that give even the darkest winter thoughts hope. There are also primroses available which are available in a myriad of colours. A bonus with primroses is once we truly get spring these can be planted out in the garden in a partial shade area. Ensure that the soil is rich in organic matter.

Hope your February is going well and your heart is full of all of what gives us joy during our winter.

Hanbidge is the Lead Horticulturist with Orchid Horticulture. Find us at www.orchidhort.com; by email at info@orchidhort.com; on Facebook @orchidhort and on Instagram at #orchidhort. Tune into GROW Live on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/orchidhort or check out the Youtube channel GROW https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzkiUpkvyv2e2HCQlFl0JyQ?