Tulips are a spring blooming perennial grown from bulbs in a variety of colors. The plant varies from 4inches to 28inches in height. Native to mountainous temperate climates tulip cultivation ranges from Africa, Asia, and Europe but originated in the Ottoman empire. Most people associate the tulip with the Netherlands since it is the world’s main producer of as many as 3 billion bulbs sold annually. In the 17th century the tulip was expensive and so prized that it was often used as currency. A time known as “tulip mania” set in and prices sky rocketed sending markets crashing. Even further back during the Ottoman empire the tulip was a symbol of abundance and indulgence and the most prosperous time for the Ottomans was called the “Tulip Era”. The tulip’s primary meaning is perfect love and will add grace and elegance to any room. You may notice the tulip’s sensitivity to temperature. A tulip will be a closed bud in a cool environment and within 30 minutes in room temperature the bloom will pop open making your arrangement even fuller.
Widely grown in gardens of temperate and subtropic regions the Lily is a bulb planted in the fall or winter which flowers in the late spring or early summer. They are also available as a potted plant in the springtime. As a commercial flower they are available year round in varying colors including white, yellow, shades of pink, orange, purple and red. Petals may have spots or brush strokes within the coloring. Some varieties can be very fragrant and irritate allergies. Also take care as some lilies can be toxic to cats especially those plants referred to as “Easter Lilies”. The stamens of the bloom become heavy with pollen and most florists will remove those before the customer takes the flower home as it stains pretty much any surface it comes in contact with. To the ancient Greeks the Lily symbolized tenderness while the early Christians used it to show purity.
Bird of Paradise
A tropical flower native to South Africa. The spathe out of which the blooms grows is at a 90′ angle to the stem. This gives the appearance of a bird’s beak with the petal of the bloom flying upward as the plumage on the head. It’s scientific name, Strelitzia reginae, honors Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, queen consort of King George III as it was grown in the royal botanic gardens in 1773. It has since been cultivated around the world in warmer climates. In the United States it is grown in California and Florida and is the official flower of the City of Los Angeles. Birds of Paradise symbolize liberty, magnificence and a good perspective.
In the same family as the sunflower the Gerber is an annual plant that attracts butterflies and birds but is resistant to deer. As a cut flower it comes in a variety of colors including white, yellow, orange, red, coral, pink, and a burgundy shade. Available in both the mini and large sizes the Gerber daisy is the most used cut flower in the world after the rose, carnation, chrysanthemum and tulip.
An annual plant native to the Americas the Sunflower has been traced back to around 2600B.C.E. found in the state of Tabasco in Mexico. In the United States a fully domesticated sunflower can be traced back to around 2300BC right here in Tennessee! Usually growing between 5-12 feet the tallest in record soared at 25.25ft high! The flower’s name is derived from it’s shape often invoking images of the sun. The circular “flower head” actually consists of numerous small flowers crowded in the center surrounded by petal-bearing florets that can range in color from shades of yellow, red, orange, and russet. It is the small florets in the center often consisting from 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers that actually bear the fruit; what we commonly see as sunflower seeds.
In addition to the “seeds” as a snack item we can also use them for sunflower oil, a peanut butter alternative or mixed with rye flower to make a bread popular in areas of German-speaking Europe. The American Indians used sunflowers in bread as well but also for medical ointments, dyes and body paints. Referred to as the “fourth sister” the Indians would plant the sunflower on the north edge of gardens along with the other “three sisters”; corn, beans, and squash. Leaves of the sunflower can be used as cattle feed, while the stems contain a fiber which may be used in paper production. Sunflowers also produce latex, and may soon be an alternative crop for producing non-allergenic rubber.
Sunflowers can be used to extract toxic ingredients from soil, such as lead, arsenic and uranium, and to neutralize radionuclides and other toxic ingredients and harmful bacteria from water. The former Soviet Union produced the most sunflowers and it is the national flower of the Ukraine. In addition the sunflower is the state flower of Kansas and the symbol of the Vegan Society.
The word “Rose” means pink or red in many languages but comes in many different shades. For the record, there is no true blue rose. If you see one it is dyed or painted which vastly shortens the life span. The red rose is used the most in the commercial floral industry as a sign of love for the busy Valentine’s holiday and year round. Different colors have different meanings.
- Red – Love, Beauty, & Romance.
- White – Purity, Innocence, & Remembrance.
- Yellow – Friendship & Joy.
- Pink – Dark shades – Gratitude & Appreciation, Light shades – Sweetness, Gentleness, & Admiration.
- Lavender – Enchantment & Regal Majesty.
- Orange – Desire, Enthusiasm, & Passion.
Ornamental roses have been cultivated for millennium as far back as 500BC in the Mediterranean. Many hybrids have been produced since then to produce a wide range of colors as well as petal count. Rose hips, the fruit of the plant, are a great source of vitamin C and can be made into jams and jellies. Rose water is used in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine while rose syrup is used in French food and in the making of the marshmallow.
An ancient symbol of love and beauty the rose was sacred to many goddess including Isis for the Egyptians, and Aphrodite and Venus for the Greek and Romans. In modern times it is often used to honor the Virgin Mary. The roses growing in the Garden of Eden were said to be white but turned red upon blushing in shame at Adam and Eve’s fall from grace.
The name Chrysanthemum is derived from the Macedonian and Greek word, chrisos (gold) and anthos (flower) and is commonly known as the mum. Native to Asia and northeastern Europe the mum is a perennial plant that has approximately 30 species. The cut variety you find in florists range from then tiny button mum, to the larger spider and football mums. First cultivated in the 15th century in China as an herb, the white and yellow varieties are still used in China to make a sweet chrysanthemum tea for medicinal purposes and the leaves are boiled or steamed for use in culinary dishes. The seed casing is used as a natural source of insecticide that attack the nervous systems of all insects and inhibit female mosquitoes. These insecticides are far less toxic to mammals and birds, break down easily when exposed to light and are among the safest insecticides for use around food. Chrysanthemum plants have been shown to reduce indoor air pollution by the NASA clean air study. In the US the mum symbolizes positivity and cheerfulness. In Australia the mum is given on mother’s day however in many places in Europe and Asia the mum is only used for funerals and on graves symbolizing lamentation and grief.