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

 

African Violets

African Violets – A Brief History

African Violets (Saintpaulias) are tropical plants that were found in the wilds of Africa in 1892 and their common name is from their resemblance to true violets (Violaceae). Before the end of the 19th century, African Violets were being propagated in hothouses in Europe.

African Violet - Varied Colors

Figure 1: Colors of African Violets

In 1927 a California nursery ordered seeds for the African Violet from England and Germany – then these flowering plants became known globally and are now among the most popular house plants. Of the 1,000 plants grown, ten were chosen as the first hybrids and introduced to the world in 1936. Despite the fact that most commercial plants are grown from cuttings and tissue culture, many of the species of African Violet are now endangered, as their habitats are cleared for agriculture.

African Violet Description

African Violets are a flowering perennial, highly sensitive to temperature change — particularly if their leaves cool rapidly. The leaves are covered in a stiff “velvet” that adds to the beauty of these flowering plants. The sheen on the leaves in Figures 1, 2, and 3 are the light reflecting off of the fine filaments that make up the velvet.

Like Cyclamen, these plants are valued more for the beautiful flowers than the foliage. In the wild they produce violet, pale blue, white and purple flowers; as a general rule size varies from the micro at less than 3 (three) inches to the giant that can grow to approximately 16 inches.

 African Violet Propagation

The simplest way to begin new plants is to pick a leaf off at the base of the African Violet and stick it into damp soil. Keep the humidity right and you’ll have a new plant coming.

One other method that I have used is to fill a glass with water and put a plastic bag over the top secured with a rubber band. Make a small slit in the bag and push the stem through into the water; soon you will see roots appearing, ready to plant. Make sure that when you plant it the soil is not touching the leaf – only the stem.

African Violet Care

As indoor plants, grown under proper conditions including the use a sterile pot and soil, good water flow/drainage, and indirect, filtered afternoon sunlight, African Violets will bloom endlessly. There are many beautiful flower pots and indoor plant stands that suit African Violets perfectly.

African Violet - Decorative Basket

Figure 3: African Violet Plants in a Decorative Basket

I recommend buying small stones from the nursery to line the bottom of the pot for improved drainage and using potting soil made specifically for African Violets. Optimal plant health care requires you to periodically repot the African Violet to avoid overcrowding the roots.

The soil for the plant should be kept slightly damp. The easiest way to water is from the base; do not get the leaves wet as it makes ugly brown spots on them. Never saturate the soil. Daytime temperature should be between 70 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit; don’t let it drop below 60 degrees overnight.

To keep the plants growing evenly and to obtain a good shape to your African Violet, turn the pot one-quarter turn every second day – always the same direction. Regular fluorescent lights for about 16 hours per day with 8 hours of darkness will usually give sensational bloom but the plants will need extra food and water. Group your plants to help keep the humidity at the required level. Whatever fertilizer you choose, use it in the water according to directions and give them this every time you water.  If you also have Succulent plants, the African Violet fertilizer can be used on them as well.

African Violets - Basket Bouquet

Figure 4: Mixed Basket of African Violets and Ivy

Alternative Growth Methods

African Violets give amazing growth hydroponically. Old leaves may yellow as they adapt to the new system; remove them and soon the plant will offer brighter blossoms and stronger leaves. The link, Hydroponics Systems, offers complete hydroponics systems, educational books, and organic fertilizers to aid you in setting up your own hydroponics system.

You can also grow African Violets in a terrarium or similar atmosphere where they get plenty of humidity.

Modern Uses of African Violets

African Violets - Mixed basket

Figure 5: Mixed Basket of African Violets, Roses, Azaleas, Ivy and Pink Hypoestes

Florist shops have recently had an increasing demand for bouquets that include African Violets. A decorative bouquet of this type is often made up of blooms from flowering plants such as Roses, Azaleas, Hibiscus, Hydrangea, Gardenia, OrchidsPeonies, and spring flowers – add beautiful potted violets in varying shades and you have a rainbow of colors to delight the eye! The baskets featured in Figures 3, 4, and 5 are examples of how beautiful such bouquets from florists can be.

Some species of spring flowers are poisonous to cats, among them the Peony, Tulips and certain Lilies; however, the African Violet, Easter Orchids, Miniature Roses and other popular types of flowering plants and most varieties Palm Plants are non-toxic to them. However, if a child or pet ingests or gets cut on any plant, call a poison control center immediately. It’s better to be overly cautious than to lose a loved-one, and many plants are very toxic. For more information on the subject, see Poisonous Plants.

 

Sources and Citations

http://www.hydro-orchids.com/tp-AFV.html  – research source

http://www.articlesbase.com/gardening-articles/advice-to-gardeners-wanting-to-grow-african-violets-1835058.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ab_paid_12&gclid=CJnd3K_upboCFcU5Qgode2AArw  – research source

http://answers.ask.com/Home/Gardening/how_to_grow_african_violets?ad=semD&an=google_s&am=broad&o=2469  – research source

http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/11/my-african-violet-growing-guide/  – research source

http://www.skh.com/gardeningatoz/cactus-succulent-care/ – research source