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

 

Roses – Outdoors and Indoors

Roses - Pink Roses

“We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” ~ Dale Carnegie, American playwright 1888 – 1955.

Roses

Roses - 'Apricot Twist' Miniature RoseRoses—one of my favorite flowering plants! My first experience with growing them came by me being too practical! As a young bride I loved the roses that my husband brought home to me but decided maybe he should buy bare root rose plants instead and we could save money and have our own rose garden; thus began a series of learning rose tips (and learning to not expect many more bouquets!!) There are many varieties of roses available, but don’t be fooled by other plants that have rose in the name. For example, the Desert Roses are actually a form of Succulent Plants.

 

Roses - Creamy Yellow, Ruffled BloomsHow to Plant Roses

In order to have beautiful, healthy plants with gorgeous flowers, first choose an open area of your garden or yard that gets approximately 6 hours of sunlight; this also helps avoid mildew or thrips (a type of insect). If roses have been planted in that location previously I recommend using fresh soil. I rototilled my chosen area thoroughly then decided where to place which roses, according to type, color arrangement, etc.

 

Soak a bare root rose in a pail of water before putting it in the ground; if it is a potted rose soak the plant well and allow it to sit until the ground is prepared. Since I wanted my roses to have plenty of sun and space for the roots to grow, I dug holes about 18 inches deep by 36 inches across (some sites recommend 15″ x 18″); my roses were stupendous!

 


Post-Planting Maintenance

Later, when the plants are in the ground and roots are taking hold, check the soil an inch below the surface to see if they need watered. If it is dry, soak them slowly to a depth of about 6 inches. Mist the plants as often as you can while they are getting rooted; continue misting daily until the new leaves are out.  Once the rose bushes have fully leafed out, apply a fertilizer and again after the first 6 weeks. Check the package for regular fertilization tips. ‘Miracle-Gro Rose Plant Food’ gave exceptional results.

Roses - Deja Blue My Bouquet Rose

 

Mulching helps the plants to retain moisture, discourages weeds and keeps the roots cooler during hot days. Cultivate just the top soil so you do not damage roots but allow air to enter the soil. Roses should be transplanted in the early spring while the bushes remain dormant.

 

Roses - Peachy Cream Rose

Raising Roses in Cold Climates

If you live in a cold climate, plant roses deeper (crown 1-2 inches below the surface), cover them well for winter—check with your local nursery on protection, fertilization, watering, spraying, misting and other tips. Choosing a variety of rose that is hardy in cold weather is a good way to reduce the risk of losing your plants during the cold season. Look for notes  in the rose bush’s description that say “Hardy cold weather”. I’m not particularly familiar with growing roses in below zero weather.

Roses - White RosesPest Control

Aphids are insects that live in colonies on the back of rose leaves and on the buds. They reproduce rapidly and can cause major damage to your plants. Liquid Castile or olive oil soap (in a spray bottle) will make an environmentally-friendly insecticidal spray that will kill aphids within an hour of spraying. When an hour has passed, gently rinse the roses with the water hose to wash off soap residue and dead bugs. This spray only kills on contact so you will have to repeat as necessary to keep the aphids down. Spray or dust for black spot and mildew as required (mildew can cause a loss of scent on the flower).

Caring for Miniature Roses Indoors

When most people think of rose bushes they think of gardens, but fortunately Roses also come in miniature versions that are beautiful on indoor plant stands and are great for patios as well. The care of miniature roses is very similar to that of full-sized roses, except that the potted miniatures may require more frequent watering, have fewer pest issues if kept indoors, and no rototilling required if grown in flower pots. Keeping those differences in mind, the plant health care tips here generally apply to both potted miniature and full-sized roses.

Roses - Rose Garden BasketUnlike Cyclamen, Roses are not poisonous plants and aside from being cautious of the thorns around children and animals, there is no danger of having them in the house. Caring for roses indoors is more challenging than most houseplants. I do not recommend them in the list of Best Indoor Plants for Beginners, and they are not as easy to grow as African Violets; however, you may find it less stressful than Orchid care, at least in my opinion. Be sure that you place your potted roses near a window where they get at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. If your roses start to fail, set them outside for a few days where they have plenty of light and fresh air (weather permitting).

Pruning your Rose Bushes

Prune for plant health, vigor and direction before new growth begins in the spring; also to get rid of diseases or weakened/damaged canes. Check carefully on pruning instructions before you use those shears!

If you like flowers in the house, early morning is the best time to cut roses—slice the flower stem at an angle using a sharp knife.

 

Rose Bouquets and the Symbolism of Colors

A rose from the florist shop usually has been engineered and bred for longevity and affordability at the cost of the fragrance, so if you want fragrant blooms you are better off growing your own roses. Many types of flowers are beautiful with roses, for example, the picture below shows the dramatic beauty of roses with Calla Lilies while a picture above shows a mixture of miniature and full-size pink roses. A current trend is to have multicolored or unusually colored rose flowers, but if you are buying rose seeds or bare root rose bushes be certain that the picture is not of a dyed rose or photoshopped for appeal. While searching for nice photos for this website I came across purple roses that were dyed and multicolored roses that were truly bred that way. Be sure to read labels and descriptions carefully before purchasing. With the wide varieties of colors and breeds of flowers that have been developed over centuries, people have attributed meanings to specific flowers. If you want to send flowers but aren’t sure whether your choice symbolizes the meaning you hope to convey, check with a florist.

  • red rose means passionate love
  • pink rose signifies appreciation
  • peach or yellow roses indicate friendship and happiness
  • Calla Lily is regal
  • hydrangea is for perseverance
  • pink tulips signify caring
  • peonies are for healing
  • both orchids and hibiscus (2 reputedly tropical plants) mean delicate beauty

 

If flowers aren’t your thing, check out our pages on Spider Plants and Palm Plants for care tips.

Sources and Citations

http://happyboomernurse.hubpages.com/hub/Roses-in-Pictures-Poetry-and-Famous-Quotes – research source

http://www.rose.org/planting-roses – research source

http://www.rose.org/bare-root-roses – research source

http://www.raveplants.com/tips/rose-care.htm#Getting – research source

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/natural-control-aphids-roses-29990.html – research source

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/14/living/flowers-lose-scent – research source

http://www.rkdn.org/roses/colors.asp – research source

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-care-for-miniature-roses.html – research source