Many plants can be given as a Valentine's Day gift
Q: What are some flowers, aside from roses, that are associated with Valentine's Day?
A: The rose has been the traditional flower for Valentine's Day for years.
The world's oldest living rose grows on the wall of the Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany and is thought to be 1,000 years old! Roman myth has it that the white rose turned red when Venus' son Cupid accidentally shot a bee with an arrow and the "sting" made the rose plant grow thorns. When Venus herself pricked her foot on a thorn, the blood droplets turned the roses red.
Flowers naturally make people happy and studies have shown that they have an immediate effect on a person's mood, making them smile and feel excited. Now days, there are many flowers other than roses to choose from for Valentine's Day. Their vase life should be considered, along with what to do to make them last longer.
Oriental lilies are striking and will last two or more weeks. You can add cut-flower plant food to the water to make them last. Change it every few days
Gerbera daisies will also last two weeks or longer. Cut the end of the stem ½-inch. Then put it in a vase with an inch or two of plant food solution so that it covers ½-inch of the stem.
Hydrangea has beautiful flowers. However, they are more temperamental. They may last for days, or wilt the same day. A sticky substance that can come after being cut may cause the cut stem to clog, blocking its ability to get water. It either happens or it doesn't.
Calla lilies are unique flowers that can last two weeks. Just cut ½-inch of stem, place in vase with water and place away from direct sunlight.
• Succulents. Although not a flower, these popular, happy looking plants can thrive for many years if cared for properly. They love light and should receive at least 6 hours of sun. Initially, don't place them in direct light as this could burn their leaves. As they adjust to the sunlight, they can be moved to a more sunny spot.
Here is an easy recipe for cut-flower food:
1 quart warm (90 degree) tap water
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon bleach
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Mix together and store in a jar. Add a tablespoon or two, (depending on the size of vase and amount of water) to the flowers when you change the water every few days to keep flowers fresh.
-- Jennifer Richardson
• Provided through the Master Gardener Answer Desk, Friendship Park Conservatory, Des Plaines, and University of Illinois Extension, North Cook Branch Office, Arlington Heights. Call (847) 298-3502 on Wednesdays and Saturdays or (708) 725-2400 on Tuesdays or email email@example.com. Visit web.extension.illinois.edu/mg.