“The earth laughs in flowers.”
… Ralph Waldo Emerson
Flowering Plants – A History
Flowering 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.
The 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.
The 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 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.
Some 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).
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
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.
The 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 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.
The 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.
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. Plant 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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrangea – research source
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrangea – research source
http://www.gardeners.com/Peony-Care/8106,default,pg.html – research source
http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/faqs/azaleafaq2.html – research source