EDITOR’S NOTE: Mike will answer all your lawn and garden questions live and in person from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday Feb. 9, at the Community Home Show at the Universities at Shady Grove. Information and directions.
Mike McGrath, wtop.com
Men: Are you prepared to present proper posies? Yellow roses might make for a blue evening
Thursday is Valentine’s Day. And if you didn’t already know that, this is probably the most helpful garden tip you’ll get from me this season.
Now, if you’re thinking about a gift of roses, use caution in choosing the color. In the Victorian secret language known as the Floral Code — in which every flower has a special meaning — the deep red velvety roses so popular at this time of year actually mean “bashful shame” (which may well be true, but you probably don’t want to advertise it).
Peach-colored roses may be even worse, they mean “sympathy”. And yellow roses mean “let’s just be friends.” Yikes! Only a rose in a normal shade of red stands for the passionate love you — hopefully — want to convey.
Tulips are the more romantic choice
Valentine’s Day is a holiday strongly linked with roses. But roses are not the flower that was most often used to convey love in Victorian Floral Code, where flowers speak louder than words.
Instead, tulips are a lover’s true clandestine clue. Specifically, pink tulips are a straightforward declaration of love, yellow tulips signify that you are hopelessly in love and red tulips stand for perfect love.
And if you give potted tulips instead of cut flowers, you can replant the bulbs this fall for a chance at an eternal declaration of love.
The passionate orchid that’s also easy care
When it comes to a gift of romantic flowers, I always felt that orchids had roses beat hands-down in the passion department. Some orchids are so over the top they should come with an R rating.
And not all orchids are finicky house plants. In fact, the Phalenopsis (or ‘moth orchid’) is very easy care. And the plants can stay in bloom for a ridiculously long time, at least three months, maybe longer, if you choose your specific specimen wisely.
Pick a plant with just a few open flowers and lots of unopened buds on the lower part of the stem, and new flowers should continue to open until mid-summer. On the other hand, take a pass on orchids that have few to no buds left on the stem, those posies are long past their prime.
Yo! What’s more romantic than Philly in March?
Looking for something really “Brilliant” to give your sweetie for Valentine’s Day? How about a trip to the famed Philadelphia International Flower Show, whose theme this year is “brilliant” — as in the exclamation used to describe a way-over-the- top style of British gardening.
The largest, grandest and longest-running in the world, the Philly Flower show runs March 2 to March 10 and offers 10 acres of major exhibits that redefine breathtaking, and it’s an easy Amtrak ride from D.C. And if you join the presenting organization, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, you’ll get tickets to the show at less than list price if you buy a three- or four person membership, plus use of the exclusive members lounge at the show (free coffee, tea and nice place to sit down for a bit) and discounts at selected vendors in the marketplace area.
Oh, and if you want to double up on your fun, I’ll give my annual lecture at the show at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6. The lectures are free with Flower Show admission.
Turn cut roses into live landscape plants
Giving cut roses this Valentine’s Day? Consider turning some of those expensive bouquet blooms into living shrubs in your landscape. Yes, you can. Roses are one of the easiest plants to propagate. Now to do this, you must remove the actual flowers promptly. But they’ll still put on a show. Here’s how:
Follow @WTOP on Twitter.