Photo credit: www.gardeningknowhow.com
A house-warming gift, decorations at weddings, or placed at the dinner table- flowers are intimately involved in our lives. This article will address flowers and how we can best enjoy them.
Life cycle of a flower
Flowers are the reproductive structure of plants. The average flower consists of petals, stamens, and stigmas. The stamens produce pollen, which fertilizes the stigma. The stigma is then able to produce seed pods or fruit. The petals exist to attract pollinators like bees, which help spread around the pollen and improve pollination. The seeds produced are then able to grow into a new plant, and the cycle continues.
Human and flowers
Humans have a long history with flowers. The ancient Egyptians, the Roman empire, and the Chinese Han dynasty all celebrated flowers. But it is likely our relationship with flowers began as early as 100,000 years ago. We hypothesize that our caveman ancestors might have associated flowers with edible fruits and nuts. If true, flowers would have signaled fertility and environmental health to our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
This is a very logical origin story, but it can’t fully explain the human desire to grow and propagate colorful plants and flowers that fail to produce edible food. Think of the red colorful (and somewhat poisonous) poinsettia! Over time, humans have cultivated a love of flowers that extends beyond practical use. Aroma, color, and shape are all floral traits that elicit positive emotions.
To grow a flower, plants must allocate many resources to the developing bud. As plant owners, we can help this process by providing fertilizer specifically mixed for growing flowers. These types of fertilizers contain Phosphorus and Potassium in addition to some Nitrogen. This helps the plant prioritize flowers over leaves and stems. We can apply fertilizer as a liquid or a powder to the soil in spring and/or summer.
Because flowers are “expensive” for the plant to form and play a well-defined role in plant reproduction, they do not last forever. There are short-lived flowers, lasting less than one month, and long-lived flowers, which can bloom for up to half a year. Both of which can be excellent and fulfilling plants!
Jasmine flowers consistently from Spring to Autumn. But the individual flowers only last for a few days at a time.
Roses bloom every 6-8 weeks; in warm climates, this cycle can continue for the whole year. A single flower can last up to 2 weeks but is usually cut immediately after bloom.
Bulbous plants, or plants that grow from bulbs (onion-look-a-likes), tend to have large flowers capable of blooming for 2-3 weeks. Blubs can be dug up at the end of the season and kept for the next year.
Anthurium is capable of blooming any time of the year. A single flower can stay vibrant for up to 3 months.
Peace lilies bloom with a unique flower every spring. This single-petaled flower is capable of persisting for two months.
Echeveria, sometimes referred to generically as “succulents” due to being one of the most popular varieties of succulent plants, can produce flowers just like any other plant. These flowers tend to be meatier than other species and thus can bloom for up to a month.
Bromeliads only bloom once in their entire life. This bloom can last up to 6 months! Do not fret though, the leafy foliage is often bright and colorful, mimicking a flower's visual appeal.