Column – The Garden Girl – Live, Flowering Plants

February 16, 2014 14:00 pm · 14 comments


Live, flowering plants are often given as gifts of love and appreciation on Valentine’s Day. Rose bushes, hydrangeas, azaleas, tulips and pink jasmine are some of the flowering plants that were spotted in floral departments throughout Claycord. These floral quality shrubs and bulbs are purchased in full bloom. They come dressed to impress, wrapped in colorful foils and adorned with a fancy bow.

These gifts become living objects of affection. They are placed on the table or counter to be gazed upon and enjoyed for days and sometimes weeks. Then it begins to happen…the flowering plants decline in health. Perhaps the foliage is beginning to yellow and drop or the unopened buds are turning black and dying. This cycle isn’t your fault, it just happens. Floral quality plants were forced to flower by professional growers who fertilized constantly and raise their plants in climate controlled environments. It is almost impossible for normal plant lovers to simulate the same perfect growing situation and feeding regimen given by the professions. All too often, these gifted plants end up so stressed from life in the house that their recipient eventually tosses the plant into the compost.

To keep your Valentine happy while in the home, you’ll have a few steps to follow. First of all, please remove the decorative foil or wrap from the bottom of your gifted plant. The decorative wrapping holds water in, preventing your plant from properly draining when watered. Saturated soil mixtures can grow fungus, and may drown your plant. The growing medium used by floral companies has a spongy texture, and can get soggy fast. Without the proper drainage your plant will show sighs of stress. Water your florist forced gift once a week, or less.

Keep your gifted plants in a bright room, where the temperatures aren’t too warm, or too cold. Climate consistency will keep your plant happier.

After enjoying your flowering plant inside for couple of weeks, you’ll have to plant it outside. Plants thrive in different exposures depending on their needs. Roses are some of the easiest plants to care for. If you received a miniature rose for Valentine’s Day install your gift in a very sunny location. It would e happy in a container or in the ground. When planting, mix a premium planting mix in the soil with the rose. Work the roots of the rose apart, removing most of the nursery’s growing medium. Once planted water thoroughly. Wait a week for the installation to adjust to its new conditions, they fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer.

Were you given an azalea shrub or tree for Valentine’s Day? If so, these acid loving plants need a morning sun, or filtered light location. They too would benefit from the use of a premium soil conditioner when planted, and the removal of the growing medium. Gently work roots loose, taking care not damage too many roots. Azaleas have sensitive root systems. Water thoroughly and fertilize a week after planting with a water-soluble acid fertilizer.

If you are planting a small pot of tulips or daffodils, you are probably just planting the foliage. Find a sunny location for either of these plants. A tip when planting is to sprinkle some bone meal in the hole, then some planting mix and lastly the tulips.

Pink Jasmine was sold during the days before Valentine’s Day trailing on hoops. This plant is a vine and would make a great garden introduction if planted against a fence, or over an arbor. Some may even consider planting the Pink Jasmine in a container and letting it trail along an obelisk for a whimsical look.

Hydrangea bushes that were forced to bloom on Valentine’s Day will look the worst once planted. Hydrangeas throughout Claycord are only pushing leaf this time of year. Once you install your gift into the shade of your landscape or container, prepare yourself. Your plant may continue to lose leaves and possible a couple of stems while it acclimates to our climate in Claycord. As our days get warm and spring begins to heat up, your hydrangea will begin to put out new leaves and stems. It may or may not bloom this summer.

It is possible to transition gifted plants happily from the home to the landscape. These plants will always be cherished and their recipients remember who gave it to them and the occasion.

Happy Gardening.

Nicole Hackett is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio and Gardens, located at 6780 Marsh Creek Road in Clayton, 925-672-0207.

Nicole writes for the Clayton Pioneer Newspaper, and She is also the Clayton Valley Garden Club 2012 President.

1 Frank February 16, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Thanx so much for the weekly info. I’ve found it to be quite helpful.
What lighting conditions would you recommend for lily plants, esp. “Stargazer”?

2 Roz February 16, 2014 at 3:51 PM

I received an azalea last June after my Mother passed away, it in a larger pot in September and it is starting to bloom now. It was very easy to add some good soil and going to enjoy for years.

3 Garden Girl February 16, 2014 at 4:29 PM

Afternoon or full sun Frank.

4 Shelly February 16, 2014 at 4:34 PM

What a stunning picture! Did you take that Nicole?

5 ale February 16, 2014 at 5:16 PM

I received an orchid. I know it cannot go outside but do you have any tips?

6 VikingPrincess February 16, 2014 at 5:17 PM

This is a great idea. I can tell you I have reaped the benefits of the previous property owner who planted many bulbs, lilies, purple shamrock and mums. Right now hundreds of freesias have popped up and blooming cyclamens and minature daffodils
Are all about. In a few months the white tulips will be blooming too.
Bulbs are fun because they multiply.
So please plant your flowers you or someone after will enjoy. ;)

7 Garden Girl February 16, 2014 at 5:46 PM

Hi Shelly. I did, thanks. I took the shot with my iPhone last year in the nursery.

Sorry Ale. Orchids are my Achilles heel.

8 Home from Church February 16, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Beautiful picture! I’m looking for some new ideas for our garden, and hope to find them here. Thanks Garden Girl!

9 sappy husband February 17, 2014 at 6:02 AM

I’m thinking about planting a dwarf pink magnolia. They always seem to flower right at Valentine’s Day! Any advice for planting in red claycord clay?

10 Darling Dahlia February 17, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Northern California Camellia Society Mini- Show
Saturday March 22, 2014 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Broadway Plaza Shopping Center
1275 Broadway Plaza , Walnut Creek

Enjoy the Beauty of the Queen of the Winter’s Garden

11 valiii February 18, 2014 at 7:34 AM

They are beautiful, but I’d rather see some succulents featured. We’re having a severe drought. How about it?

12 Anon-E-Cat February 18, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Any tips on getting rid of mistletoe that is in the very tippy top of well established nut trees?

13 Silva February 18, 2014 at 11:59 AM

@sappy husband, what an excellant idea! Such a magnificently gorgeous tree. Wonderful fodder for a painter this time of year. Good luck to you, I see them blooming all around Claycord right now, so it’s certainly doable!

14 Advards February 27, 2014 at 3:10 AM

Live flowering bulbs are the best option to give to the best friends or a person whom you loved a lot on valentine day. Generally most of people use flower bulbs like tulip,rose,jasmine on valentine day because flowers are the way to express your warm feelings towards your loved one.

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