Monthly Archives: March 2016

Cold Hardy Flower BulbsBuying flower bulbs to plant and grow is an exciting experience that begins in the fall and continues through the spring. Dutch flowering bulbs are usually delivered to American ports by the month of September for fall planting. Major Dutch bulbs offerings include Dutch Amaryllis and African Amaryllis; daffodil bulbs and the famous, Tulip bulbs.

Amaryllis flower bulbs grow the showiest blooms and are pre-cooled to force fast flowering in 3 weeks after containerizing. Dutch bulb importers of Amaryllis offer a larger variety of selections and more bulbs to tempt the buyers. The African growers of Amaryllis bulbs appear to be enslaved to the Dutch Amaryllis importers distribution network, however, the African flowers that emerge on the Amaryllis stems are superior in many respects to the Dutch Amaryllis. The African Amaryllis blooms appear to offer clearer colors, more compact flower stalks, leaves that grow as the flowers appear, and more numerous flower stalks and grow from smaller bulbs. The large array of bloom colors from amaryllis includes red, pink, lavender, orange, yellow, white, green, maroon, red stripe, white stripe, pink stripe, and bi-color. Double numbers of petals on Amaryllis flowers are fast growing to be very popular choices to buy, since the petal count is increased to 12, instead of 6 that grow on most Amaryllis bulb flower stems, looking very similar to a huge carnation flower.

Daffodil flower bulbs are important Dutch bulbs for fall planting, because of their reasonable market cost, the ease of planting, and the growing of flower stalks in the Spring in various colors of yellow, white, orange, and the rare pink daffodil. Daffodil bulbs are easy to naturalize to bloom again every year.

Tulip bulbs are a native flowering plant of Turkey, but long ago tulips were hybridized on a large commercial scale by Dutch bulb growers. The cost of Dutch tulips has not always been inexpensive to buy, but tulip buyers today still love the spring flower colors of red, pink, orange, yellow, blue, purple, white, and bi-color. Cities and government organizations anxiously buy tulip bulbs in huge numbers during winter seasons to grow in beautiful landscape displays for the Spring.

The Canna lily rhizome has been long considered to be tropical in nature, with very little cold hardy resistance. The early American botanist and explorer, William Bartram, wrote in his book, Travels, in 1773, the discovery of Canna indica in Alabama near Mobile, "Canna indica is surprising in luxuriance, presenting a glorious show, the stem rises six, seven, and nine feet high, terminating upwards with spikes of scarlet flowers." Bartram also discovered the native Canna flaccida, growing near Fort Frederica, Georgia, located on the Island of St Simon's. Canna lily colors are broad, red, white, pink, lavender, orange, yellow, speckled, bi-color and others. Some Canna flower growers plant cannas with variegated leaf forms that are striped with red, green, yellow, white, and pink. Dutch distributors of canna rhizomes still flood retail box store, garden centers with "Victorian-age" canna bulbs of poor quality; varieties that had declined, "run out", 50 years ago, and they should have been discontinued and not presented to buyers at a garden center nursery.

Ginger lily rhizomes grow flowers with fragile, delicate blossoms - many looking like miniature orchid flowers. The foliage of Ginger lilies is interestingly variable, growing in colors of green, yellow, maroon, and stripes of yellow or white. Interest in planting ginger lilies has surged in 20 years, because of the realization that many ginger lilies are cold hardy, surviving temperatures as cold as zero degrees F. The foliage and the flowers are pleasantly aromatic.

Daylilies are actually not bulbs but rhizomes, but are sold extensively as daylily bulbs. Thousands of named varieties of Daylily bulbs have been easily hybridized by legions of backyard gardeners and the selection improvement and flower quality is absolutely astonishing. The improvement has resulted in growing double flower daylily, miniature daylily, cold hardy daylilies, and compact clumping or large clumping daylily plants. It is staggering to realize all these many colors - red, white, yellow, orange, purple, pink, and bi-color originated from an original native plant -a seedy, yellow daylily growing wild on the forest edge.

Crinum Lily bulbs offer to an adventurous hobbiest or gardener an antique garden bulb selection that has been reintroduced as improved crinum clones by the brilliant inductiveness of chemist, Lester Hannibal of Fair Oaks, California. Lester Hannibal back crossed and intercrossed many native crinum lily species to offer the gardener an excellent, cold hardy crinum, an "interspecific hybrid", that can be grown as far North as Philadelphia, PA, zone 6, and to survive intense freezes of below zero temperatures. Many of Lester Hannibal's crinum flower hybrids were a re-creation of obsolete but popular commercial crosses that were made by Cecil Houdyshel in the 1930's, but largely improved upon from the original "Powellii" forms with clear, white and pink colors, an increase in the number of flowers in the umbel, extended flowering periods, an eliminatio of drooping flowers, an intensification of fragrance and early flowering after sprouting from the germination of the seed. The "milk and wine" crinum lilies were named, because the flowers were white (milk) and wine striped colors. Crinum colors are burgundy, red, pink, white, greenish-yellow, and orange. Crinum bulbs increase by growing into clumps of multiple offsets from the central mother bulb, or by planting the seed of some cultivars or species.

-Rare, Hard-To-Find Flower Bulbs of Merit- Many rare minor flower bulbs are unavailable to buy anywhere, except by possibly exchanging plants with collectors and hobbiest. The Amazon lily, Encharist grandiflora, blooms with six white, daffodil like petals, and a green or glowing yellow cup radiating from the center. This delicate flower can be remembered from days past for its wonderful charming fragrance. The Bird of Paradise is known for the two tropical forms, the Strelizia reginae, the most common: brilliantly colored flowers with orange, red, and blue glaring blossoms; and the Strelizia nicholae that grows large, showy, white flowers. The Blood Lily, Scadoxus mutliflorus, forms baby-head sized globular flowers with red filamented petals and radiate fragile threads of red that are affixed to the to the center of the bloom, great for container culture. The Red Butterfly lily, Odontonema strictum, won the perennial plant award of the year in Florida in the year 2000, and butterflies and hummingbirds flock to visit the fiery red spikes, beginning in mid-August and continuing until the first hard freeze. The Calla lily, Calla palustrus, has been hybridized with many other Calla lily species to grow into many splendid colors, but the new hybrids are not as popular as the white, fragrant, winter-blooming, Calla aethiopica; and the yellow calla, Calla aethiopica. Clivia lilies, Clivia minata, are choice heavy shade-requiring plants that produce gigantic clusters of orange flowers, cup shaped, with a yellow throat, and often will re-bloom two or three times from large bulbs.

The Gloriosa lilies, Gloriosa rothschildiana, a climbing vine that clothes itself with recurved, star-like flowers that are favored and admired by florists and flower arrangers, because the blooms last so well. The Inca Lily, Alstomeria aurantiaca, has become naturalized in America, as an escaped bulb from the tropical jungles of Peru. The Alstromeria flowers last well as a cut-flower, and waxy, greenish-red funnels begin blooming vigorously in the spring. Lycoris are a charming group of flower bulbs that called "Spider Lily", and they bloom in floral colors of pink, yellow, white, and red, Lycoris radiata, which is the most widely grown. The Pineapple Lily, Eucomis bicolor, grows into flowers that are shaped like miniature pineapple fruits in colors of white and rusty-red. Scilla flower bulbs are grown in large numbers as bedding plants, many Dutch varieties are small and make good cut flowers, but the best cold hardy Scilla is the Scilla peruviana that forms and grows into glowing, purplish-blue flowers that either grow as well as bedding plants, or containerized plants. Voodoo lilies, Amorphophallus bulbifer, are strange and bazaar leafy bulbous plants, both in leaf and flower, with a suggestive look of snakes, cobras, and other vermin that may be lurking beneath the leopard-spotted menacing leaves. Zephyranthes are called "rain lilies", and softly bloom in colors of pink, Zephyranthes grandiflora; yellow, Zephyranthes citrina; white, Zephyranthes atamasco; and a mind-numbing number of Zephyranthes bulb mongrels that are distributed by a retired breeder in San Antonio, Texas, who apparently has nothing better to do, than paralyze all the worlds earnest taxonomists into the task of assembling the records of his Mexican-American bulb-children lineage into a staggering Encyclopedia publication.

 

flower Care TipsEverybody loves receiving flowers, but people often hesitate to purchase a beautiful bouquet for themselves. Generally the misconception that flowers will last only a few days tends to drive most prospective buyers away.

Flowers add such an incredible atmosphere to any room. Here are a few tips used by florists that help ensure bouquets stay looking fresher for longer.

When purchasing flowers

Quality is the most important factor to consider when buying flowers. Therefore it would be advised to purchase your flowers from a reputable florist. Not only do they have the knowledge and experience to handle flowers properly, but they will also be able to prepare the bouquet for you to make the conditioning process a little bit easier. This includes little things such as ridding roses of thorns or including a special flower food sachet that has been scientifically proven to help extend the flowers' lifespan.

Although you might have to pay more for better quality, it will show at the end of the day when the flowers last longer, proving to be well worth it. But purchasing quality flowers is not enough, conditioning is vital if you want to make sure that your flowers last longer.

Flower growers have created harvest programs that need to be followed by both florists and the customer in order not to break the life chain of the flowers. Without following these basic flower care steps, you will ultimately shorten the life of your flowers.

Conditioning

Conditioning flowers correctly extends your flowers' vase life. There are a few do's and don'ts that you need to follow to make sure you get the best value for what you paid for.

If you are unable to put the flowers into a vase quickly, and the flowers start to show severe signs of water stress, simply submerge the whole flower, including stem and head, into lukewarm water for about 15 minutes. After that you can start conditioning the flowers for the vase.

You can start the conditioning process by making sure that any buckets and the vase you put the flowers into are disinfected. Bacteria loves dirty containers and will shorten your flower's life span.

While busy conditioning your flowers, place them in fresh clean warm water that contains flower food. Using warm rather than cold water is better for your flowers because it contains less air, limiting the chances of any air blockages in the stems.

While preparing the flowers for the vase, make sure that you use a good sharp knife rather than a pair of scissors to cut the stems. A knife will give a good clean diagonal cut which will prevent any damage to the water conducting cells in the stem. Although this might seem difficult to do, this technique is easy to master and is much easier and more efficient than a pair of scissors.

It is best to cut approximately 2cm off the stems at an angle under water. This will accelerate rapid water uptake. The excess foliage that will be below the water level in the vase should be removed. Also clean the stems of the flowers to get rid of possible existing bacteria to help prevent rotting and further development of bacteria once the flowers are in the vase.

Make sure you use a non-metal container or vase to arrange your flowers in. Add lukewarm water and add flower food before you start arranging the flowers in the vase.

Once you've arranged your flowers beautifully, make sure to place the flowers out of direct sunlight or heat and away from any droughts. Although flowers love light and even temperatures, they do not react well to droughts.

Top the vase up daily with fresh water. Should the flowers start to droop, simply re-cut the stems using a sharp knife. If you have purchased roses, and they start to droop at the head, simply re-cut the stems and place them in deep water for approximately an hour.

After you have followed these easy steps you will be able to appreciate your flowers for much longer, knowing that your flowers are worth every cent and more!

 

Maintenance FlowersTips for the beginner Gardener

Not all Garden flowers are created equal there are some easy grow easy care flowers that go above and beyond the call of duty, that bloom for months at a stretch. Every sensible Gardener should try to make these types of flowers the foundation of his/her flower garden. When you have areas of color you can rely on each season, you have extra time to invest in feature or specimen flowers that often require more specialized attention. Here are some tried and tested long blooming flowers for your home flower garden.

Rudbeckia (some times referred to as Black-eyed Susan) Perennial Flowers

USDA Zones: 3 - 9 - Bloom Span: 3 Months mid Summer- Mid Fall
Full Sun-Partial Shade
Rudbeckia flowers make themselves at home anywhere and many are native to many parts of North America you often see their bright yellow flowers growing along the banks of highway ditches. These flowers like well-drained, somewhat poor soil and full sun. Deadheading will extend their blooming period, a bonus is the fact that cut Rudbeckia flowers will last a long time in water so make excellent cutting flowers for the cutting garden and to bring into your home for vase displays. Their flowers are attractive to butterflies and bees and their seeds can be eaten by birds during the winter months. They are relatively long lived plants that require very little maintenance and are true easy care flowers, Rudbeckias can be easily multiplied by division. There are many varieties of hybridized Rudbeckia flowers but my favorite and most hardy is Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm", which are native North American wild flowers. Plants form upright bushy clumps offering a very generous display of brown-eyed, golden-orange daisies from midsummer through the fall. Plants may be easily divided in early spring and transplanted to other garden areas where their bright cheery flowers may add color to a more dreary spot

Veronica spicata (Spike Speedwell) Perennial Flowers

USDA Zones 3 - 9 - Bloom Span: 3-4 Months
These flowers start blooming in the spring and keep going all the way to the first frost. The genus speedwell includes a broad range of flowering plants, but Veronica. spicata is the most popular form chosen for most garden environments. It forms a low growing dense mass of dark green foliage from which arise its flowers in narrow upright spikes, many varieties are available bearing flowers in shades of blues, reds, pinks, whites and purples. Removing the faded flower spikes will keep the plants flowers in blossom for much longer. Drought tolerant, Veronica prefers a well-drained soil, excellent for cutting; the flowers are a favorite with butterflies. Clumps should be pruned hard if they get floppy and divided if they become bald in the center; time to divide these flowers is in the fall or early spring.
My favorite- Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue'

Nigella (Love-in-a-Mist/or sometimes love in a puff) Annual Flowers

The Nigella flowers are delicate, feathery, often blue-flowers but can be obtained in shades of pink, purple and white, an annual, displaying delicate fern like foliage and attractive unusual eye-catching seedpods. They self-seed readily and to my mind this feature along with their incredibible beauty is why these flowers deserve inclusion as an easy care low maintenance flowers .They Come into bloom very quickly, if successive sowings are made every two or three weeks in the summer months by saving some of the previous years seed rather than allowing them all to self sow and merely scattering the seed on the soils surface, you will ensure a continuous supply of beautiful and unusual flowers all summer long, Nigella does well in warm or cool areas but prefers a slightly moist soil. you could not find easier to grow flowers ,I seldom rave over annuals to tell the truth there are only a few that I give garden space to but love in a mist is one of them they're a must have flowers for any new gardener.
My favorite-Persian Jewels (seeds) that include flowers from all Nigella's color ranges.

Day lily /Tiger Lily/Ditch lily/Hemerocalis fulva (Perennial Flowers)

The omnipresent Day Lily, found almost everywhere in North America, or at least it is if you live here in Ontario as it is one of the most beautiful of Ontario's wild flowers. a profuse propagator by means of tuberous roots. Transplanting is best in spring or fall, water generously after transplanting .They do not mind overcrowding, as a matter of fact these flowers look their best when in bloom in a large, close knit mass planted groups forming patches of bright orange flowers here and there, dotted around the garden .These wild flowers are incredibly easy to grow just try and stop them. They are at home in nature, or as a back drop or foundation flowers for your home garden. These Day lily's require little to no attention. they provide summer and fall interest and once established are a tall impenetrable ground cover I under plant and inter plant mine with other bulbs that display their flowers when the Day Lily is not blooming, they prefer moist to wet soils, but will grow anywhere sun or shade ,only two years ago I established a large patch in what was largely gravel just off my back patio That's why they grow so well in and near ditches hence one of there common name Ditch Lily, always seems a little insulting to refer to beautiful large star shaped orange flowers by such a demeaning name. Fertilizer is not necessary, except in the poorest of soils. These flowers do not need winter protection and once established, thrive and increase year after year.

 

How to Care for Fresh FlowersFlowers are beautiful and professionally designed bouquets are especially attractive. Flowers can also carry huge sentimental meaning because they are often given as gifts from people close to us. So it's little wonder that we would want to extend the life of our flowers and enjoy their aesthetic and sentimental beauty for as long as possible.

With proper care and attention most flowers will last around 7 days with some varieties lasting for as long as 14 days. Here are some practical steps to help extend the life of your cut flowers.

Get flowers into water

After only a short time out of water flowers will begin to dehydrate. Therefore it is essential to get flowers into a vase or container of water as quickly as possible. When you first get the flowers home use warm water, not cold or hot, as this is the quickest way to rehydrate the flowers. Warm water will also promote opening of the blooms as most flowers are shipped with the blooms in a closed or tight stage.

Technically speaking the optimum temperature is 37.5C (99.5F), which is roughly body temperature. At this temperature air bubbles, which may have formed in the stem, tend to breakup. Also water that is warmer than the surrounding air is more readily taken up by the flowers.

Change the water regularly

Try to change the water every two days. The flowers should be well hydrated by now so you can use cold water instead of warm. This helps keep the flowers cool which is a key part of keeping flowers in good condition.

Use flower preservatives

Each consignment of Affinity Flowers comes with a sachet of flower preservative. Flower preservative contains two main components, carbohydrates and anti-bacterial additives.

The carbohydrates act as food which helps to sustain the flowers. The carbohydrates will also stimulate flower heads to open quicker. This is handy when you're trying to open flowers that usually ship with tight blooms like lilies.

The bactericide component inhibits bacteria developing in the water. Bacteria laden water will cause flowers to deteriorate quicker. Bacteria is also a problem because it can block flower stems and hinder the uptake of water. If left long enough the bacteria will also discolour the vase water and produce an unpleasant odour.

Simply empty the contents of the flower preservative sachet into the vase water.

If you don't have flower preservative you could add 1-2 drops of bleach to the water instead. The bleach will act as an anti-bacterial just like the additives in commercial flower preservatives.

Remove leaves that will be under water

This is important as leaves that are below the waterline will deteriorate quickly and become a breeding ground for bacteria. If you have a professionally arranged bouquet you'll find that the leaves have already been removed by the florist. But flowers bought loose or unarranged might still have leaves low on the stem.

Trim the stems

Take a pair of scissors or a sharp knife and trim 2-3cm (1 inch) from the bottom of the stem. Try not to crush the stem while you're doing this. Cut the stem on an angle to increase the surface area exposed to the water. Cutting on an angle also stops the stem sitting flat on the bottom of the vase and blocking water uptake. Once cut immediately place the flowers into water.

Water is sucked up the stem like a straw. If there is anything blocking the straw then it will impede water flow to the head. Over time the end of a stem can become blocked with impurities from the water and bacteria. Also, if a flower has been out of water for any period of time, air will be drawn into the stem which will block its ability to draw water.

Some florists recommend cutting the stems underwater which prevents air being drawn up the stem.

Re-cut stems every two days or when you change the water.

Keep flowers cool

Flowers should be kept in cool conditions. Keep them away from direct sunlight, heaters, lamps and other heat sources. Also try not to leave flowers in a hot vehicle when transporting them. This is why specialist flower delivery couriers have chilled storage on-board their vehicles.

Each variety has its own optimal holding temperature but the ideal temperature for most flowers is a chilly 4-5C (39-41F), about the temperature inside your refrigerator. Obviously these aren't ideal temperatures for people but if you really wanted to extend the life of your flowers you could place them in the refrigerator overnight or if you were going to be away for an extended period.

Keep flowers away from fruit

Fruit and vegetables produce ethylene gas which is detrimental to flowers. Carnations and Delphiniums are particularly susceptible. Try to keep flowers away from fruit and vegetables to keep them in good shape.

Similarly domestic gas is also damaging to flowers. There is a story of a flower grower who found it difficult to keep cut flowers on his farm. He suspected his gas supply may have been the cause and a check by a specialist confirmed he had a gas leak on his property.

Keep daffodils separate

The sap exuded from the cut stems of narcissus varieties like daffodils is detrimental to other flowers. No other flowers should share the same water with daffodils or any narcissus varieties.