Flowering Plants

The earth laughs in flowers.”
…  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Flowering Plants – A History

Flowering Plants - Mixed BouquetFlowering plants (Angiosperms) are seed-bearing vascular plants—the largest grouping within the plant kingdom in terms of the number of described species—about 352,000 species or 90% of all known species of plants; also the most varied group of land plants. Found in almost all habitats, the reproductive structures are flowers with the ovules enclosed in an ovary. Angiosperms have a large number and variety of life forms; the largest plant families being Orchids, Compositae (daisies) and Legumes (beans). There are various theories of flower evolution as described in Wikipedia. The first flowering plants (also referred to as fruiting plants) known to exist are from well over a million years ago; they became widespread about 120 million years ago, replacing conifers (plants that bear cones) approximately 60-100 million years ago. Many beautiful flowering plants are also very poisonous plants, so be cautious when selecting them for your home or yard if you have pets or children.

The orchid has 21, 950 species; the daisy has 22,750 species and the legumes have 19, 400 species.

Flowering Plants and Reproduction

The main feature of angiosperms is the flower, whose function is to ensure fertilization of the ovule as well as the development of fruit that has seeds. Flowers enable a wider range of adaptability for the species. The flowering plants have stamens with two pairs of pollen sacs, which have become modified over the centuries in order to prevent self-fertilization. The male parts are reduced to three cells. Fertilization begins quickly after pollination, allowing the species to produce seeds early. After the ovary has been fertilized, the carpel and surrounding tissue develop into a fruit, which attracts seed-dispersing animals thus helping the plant to spread and adapt to other areas.

Flowering Plants - Lavender PansiesThe flowering plants have reduced female gametophyte – 7 cells, 8 nuclei, possibly an adaptation for more rapid seed set. Endosperm is a nutritious tissue that provides food for the embryo, the cotyledons and more rarely the tiny seedling. These specific traits together have made flowering plants the most commercially viable group of plants to our existence. Some plants (like Spider Plants, many Succulent Plants and Palm Plants) are valued for their foliage, but still produce flowers for reproduction or when the plant is stressed.

Popular Flowering Plants

Modern flowering plants are used to brighten our homes, clean the air, increase humidity, improve our health and sharpen our attentiveness.

Examples include:

Hibiscus

Flowering Plants - HibiscusThe Hibiscus are beautiful tropical plants that create an exotic atmosphere with their huge blooms that last for only a short time; however, similar to Gardenias, the plant will bloom from spring through autumn. Keep the soil moist and give it lots of sunlight. The flowering plants can be trained to grow into trees.

Roses

Roses are one of the oldest flowers known to humans and are still one of the most-loved for their beauty and scent—honored also in medicine, art, literature, romance and ballads.  Roses do best in full sunlight, well-drained soil and lots of organic matter. In 1986 the rose became America’s national flower.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen is a popular plant for both indoor and outdoor growth. It is in the list of Best Indoor Plants for Beginners, and is hardy and easy to grow.

Hydrangea

Flowering Plants - HydrangeaSome Hydrangea plants are flowering plants native to Asia and the Americas. The most diverse plants are in China, Korea and Japan – some are shrubs, some small trees and some are lianas that climb up taller trees as high as 98 feet (30m).

Flowering Plants - Pink Hydrangea

The Hydrangea can also be grown in your garden or indoors. It will bloom from spring until autumn. Some species of the Hydrangea have 2 types of flowers s—mophead (large, round flowerheads) and lacecap (round, flat flowerheads). Most species of Hydrangea have white flowers but the color is affected by the level of soil acidity – an acid soil will normally produce a bluish flower; an alkaline soil will produce a pink Hydrangea bloom. The Hydrangeas can be deciduous or evergreen; the commonly seen plants here in the US are normally deciduous

Orchids

In 1922 a physiologist discovered how to germinate Orchid seeds, leading to mass production. Orchid breeders have now created in excess of 100,000 hybrid orchids. Some varieties of Orchids are not hard to grow. The plants do not grow in soil but in a chunky-textured medium such as moss, bark, charcoal and other ingredients mixed in. The roots must have exposure to air otherwise the plant will die! Mist the leaves lightly; after the flower stem dies the Orchid will go into a resting mode. It isn’t dead—don’t throw it out! The Phalaenopsis Orchid is a good plant to begin with. We have a Basic Orchid Care page on this website, but, for questions that we don’t address, there is an orchid care forum at: http://www.justaddiceorchids.com/frequently-asked-questions.

Peonies

Flowering Plants - PeoniesThe horticulture of Peonies is native to Western North America, Asia and Southern Europe. The number of species of this perennial is approximately 35-40 and boundaries between the species are not clear. The flowers are beautifully fragrant and appearing in colors of red, white, pink or yellow. The leaves are actually many leaflets with deeply indented margins and a single stem. Garden peonies start from tubers, while tree Peonies are grown from seed or from a graft.

Peonies are robust plants that take little care and can handle severe cold. They need a full day of sunlight unless you live where there is intense heat—in which case the plants may want partial shade. Peonies are often used in landscaping or planted just in a row. Do not overcrowd them—since that reduces air flow, and make sure the soil is well-drained or disease and rot could result. The plants have beautiful bright green foliage up to 3 feet high. Peonies can be grown in many zones if you prepare the soil properly, and once established in a garden they bloom regularly in the spring. If Peonies are growing where they have the correct balance of space, water, drainage, sunlight and air they may possibly bloom for a century with minimal care.

African Violets

African Violets are popular houseplants and are easy to grow when you keep in mind basic plant health care. They produce beautiful flowers and have velvety leaves. These plants can be gorgeous when displayed on suitable indoor plant stands.

Chrysanthemum

Flowering Plants - CrysanthemumThe Chrysanthemum flowers come in a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes. Each Chrysanthemum flower is a cluster of several flowers—short disk flowers and rings of longer ray flowers; there are 9 categories depending on the type and arrangement of disk and ray flowers. This plant is not specific to any season; can be grown in most types of soil; needs sunny weather; they are easy to grow and flower for months.

Azalea

Plant an Azalea in loose, well-drained soil with good organic matter during the early spring or early autumn. Azalea roots are shallow; pH needs to be kept at about 4.5-5.5; soak the plant while in the pot prior to planting it in the garden. Flowering Plants - AzaleaPlant the azalea higher than the surrounding soil; they usually settle some—then water the area and add a layer of compost: pine needles, bark that has been shredded up or just pine bark. A mulch helps to keep the area damp and cool and deters weeds. If the weather is dry water the azalea weekly.

Sources and Citations

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowering_plant – research source

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/flowering/blooming-houseplants/#page=2 – research source

http://www.colonialdistrictroses.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/abriefhistoryoftherose.pdf – research source

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrangea – research source

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrangea – research source

http://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/mostpopularflowers/morepopularflowers/peonies – research source

http://www.gardeners.com/Peony-Care/8106,default,pg.html – research source

http://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/aboutflowers/tropicalflowers/chrysanthemum – research source

http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/faqs/azaleafaq2.html – research source

 

Flower Pots

Flower Pots – A History

Flower Pots on a Cute Indoor Plant Stand

Figure 1: Flower Pots on a Cute Indoor Plant Stand

 Flower Pots - Terra CottaFlower pots have had various uses over time: moving plants to new locations — sometimes great distances, starting seeds, patio gardening, cultivation of indoor plants, and often for year-round growth in very cold climates, which usually have a short growing season. During the 18th century Josiah Wedgwood manufactured flower pots that were as gorgeous as his China dinnerware; they were often chosen as table centerpieces.

Flower pots were historically made from terra cotta; coarse, porous clay fired in a kiln and used mainly for vases, roofing and architectural purposes. Known and made use of from as early as 3,000 B.C., terra cotta died out when the Roman Empire collapsed; it was revived in Italy and Germany in the 1400’s and remains popular to this day. Clay pots are commonly used for both house plants and outdoor plants; the unglazed clay allows air and moisture to penetrate the pot; they also act as a wick to take excess moisture from the soil, possibly preventing root rot and improving plant health care. They are an excellent choice for Roses, African Violets, Succulent plants, tropical plants (including Palm Plants), and there are even special terra cotta flower pots made for Orchid care.

Flower Pots - Metal Kit

Figure 3: Metal Flower Pot

Alternative Flower Pots

Presently we have commercial flower pots made of many materials such as plastic, wood, stone, and biodegradable materials. Recycling plastic food containers or tin cans by pounding drainage holes in the bottom with a hammer and nail also gives us flower pots.

Flower Pots - Terra Cotta Pot in a Wrought Iron Tricycle

Figure 4: Terra Cotta Flower Pot in a Wrought Iron Tricycle

During difficult financial periods we have often used tin cans for flower pots; you can decorate them by painting or gluing on tiny objects or just wrap with foil or pretty paper and tie a bow – voila! – beautiful and unique! Other ideas for flower pots, planters or just as garden ornaments include baskets, pails, coffee/tea pots, tea kettles, tubs or mailboxes – just stretch your imagination and use whatever fits in with your indoor, yard, patio or garden design.

Flower Pots - Hanging

Figure 5: Beautiful Hanging Flower Pot

Hanging planters are great for Spider Plants and similar types of houseplants, but they need to be placed where heads won’t be bumped; hanging them on fence panels adds a nice touch and they can usually be seen before you crack your skull! Hanging planters are also a good  idea for poisonous plants because they can be kept out of reach of children and pets.

Flower pots usually have a hole in the bottom for drainage; sometimes there is a saucer placed beneath the pot to catch the water – often plants can use this water by taking it up through the root system. There are plants however, that should not be saturated and many that should not have water remain in the saucer even if they can be saturated – know the watering instructions for each plant you plan to grow.

Flower Pots - Self Watering Planter

Figure 6: Self Watering Planter

More recently flower pots have been designed with an automatic watering system and their own reservoir for water storage, this innovation is particularly convenient if you must be away from home. Some Indoor plant stands, like the one in Figure 6, hold an assortment of flower pots and are self watering.

Container Gardening

Container gardening is as old as Rome, with the boxes also made of terra cotta. In the first century B.C most Romans cultivated their small cottage gardens to provide food, medicinal herbs, and flowers.

Flower Pots - French Style Window Box

Figure 7: French Style Window Box

Peasants had little if any gardening space and began to grow the plants they needed in window boxes. Eventually they were so popular that the rich upper classes began to develop balcony and rooftop gardens – elaborate with vines, shrubs, flowers and even fishponds.

The window boxes kept their popularity and spread to Europe and later to America. English cottage gardens boasted wire hay baskets as a new form to grow plants in at the windows; France often used wrought iron window boxes like the one pictured in Figure 7.

Flower Pots - Planter Box

Figure 8 – Planter Box Garden (Used with permission from http://gospotgo.smugmug.com)

Large planter boxes for vegetable gardening can be built at home, such as the one in Figure 8, constructed for peppers and tomatoes. Cyclamen also thrive in planters like these.

Original garden ideas can be checked for appropriate lighting, watering, fertilizing and aesthetic appeal at your local garden center. If you need fresh opinions or just suggestions also look through books at the library or search online. If you don’t have a gardeners’ supply center nearby, Amazon.com is an excellent source of books for garden ideas but also offers: tools, soil, fertilizers, herbicide/pesticide sprays, gloves, flower pots, fence panels, planter boxes, garden ornaments, plant pots, and window boxes along with the seeds or growing plants – and almost anything else you could need.

If you love to garden and are creative, I’m sure you’ll find things to put your foliage and flowering plants in that may be unusual but very useful and attractive in a specific setting.

Sources and Citations

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terracotta – research source

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowerpot – research source

http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf/Gardening/Creative_Planters/Creative-Planter-Ideas.html – research source

http://www.bloomingbaskets.ie/index.php/the-history-of-window-boxes – research source

https://www.google.com/#q=picture+of+window+boxes%3F – research source