by B. Rosie Lerner
Nothing conveys your warm Valentine’s Day feelings like cut flowers, particularly roses. But their elegant beauty fades fast. So if you’re looking for something that will last a little longer — like your love — there are several potted plants that fit the bill.
Cyclamen is made for the occasion with its heart-shaped leaves adorned by delicate flowers of white, or shades of pink, red or lavender. The flowers have a striking form, likened to butterflies, birds in flight and even falling stars, depending on who is doing the looking. And if the plants weren’t already attractive enough, the leaves are finely detailed with silvery or light green markings.
Cyclamen are most often stocked in large, showy sizes, but miniature cyclamen are also available. Look under the leaves and choose plants with the largest numbers of flower buds. To enjoy their beauty well into spring, provide cyclamen with bright light and cool temperatures – about 65 degrees F during the day and even cooler at night, if possible. Water thoroughly when the top layer of soil begins to feel dry to the touch.
An azalea in bloom is sure to drive away the winter blahs. Plants are available in a wide range of colors, including white, pink, salmon, crimson, magenta, orange and even bi-colored forms. Potted florist’s azaleas usually bear large blossoms, up to 3 inches across. Although florist’s azaleas are not hardy outdoors in Indiana, they can be placed outdoors in summer. Water thoroughly when the top of the soil is just beginning to dry. Placement in a sunny east or west window is ideal for indoors, and like cyclamen, cool temperatures are a must.
Calceolaria, also known as pocketbook plant, bears unusual, pouch-like flowers that inspire its common name. Flower color ranges from red to maroon and from bronze to yellow, and the texture appears soft and rich, like velvet.
Plants don’t have to be flowering to be a good valentine messenger. “String of hearts,” or Ceropegia, is a trailing vine plant that, as you might guess from its name, has heart-shaped leaves borne on long, thread-like stems. The thick succulent leaves are dark green with whitish veins for contrast. A sunny window is best for Ceropegia, but it will tolerate lower light intensity. Allow the top soil to dry slightly between waterings.
Whatever your choice, make sure the sales clerk wraps your plant for protection from the cold. Keep the car warm, and make the florist your last stop before going home.
Rosie Lerner is the Purdue Extension consumer horticulturist and a consumer of Tipmont REMC. Have a question about gardening? Use the form to send it to us. Or, questions about gardening issues may be sent to: “Ask Rosie,” Electric Consumer, P.O. Box 24517, Indianapolis, IN 46224, or ec@ElectricConsumer.org.