LSU AgCenter Horticulturist
(02/14/20) It’s Valentine’s Day, and nothing says I love you more than flowers, right?
In preparation for Valentine’s Day each year, planes fly into Miami and Los Angeles, mainly from Colombia, Mexico and Ecuador, filled with millions of cut flowers. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, during the 2018 Valentine’s season, the CBP Miami Field Office alone inspected more than 1.3 billion stems of cut flowers. They are then loaded onto refrigerated trucks and shipped all over the United States.
All of this does consume a great deal of energy and creates a carbon footprint. But I am not here to eco-shame anyone. Rather, I’m here to suggest giving a live plant — better yet, one that is purchased locally and supports our local growers and economy.
Live plants have many advantages over cut flowers. For one, they will last much, much longer. Another reason is they are often much less expensive than a bouquet of flower. And if cared for correctly, they can last much longer than the end of February when cut flowers are all petered out.
Many potted plants can be planted in the landscape or kept indoors to be enjoyed year after year. Here’s a short list of ideas of mainly indoor plants for Valentine’s Day. Some can also be used outdoors in the landscape.
Let’s start with Persian cyclamen. The flowers look almost heart-shaped. What can be more romantic than that? They come in all the right colors, including hot pinks, dark pinks, salmon and white. They are an easy-to-care-for indoor plant that blooms for weeks at a time.
Next, orchids are a classic. Why not give the gift of the Aphrodite orchid named for the Greek goddess of love and fertility? Orchids are gorgeous and easy-to-care-for indoor plants that are readily available.
And don’t forget the forget-me-nots. This classic perennial garden plant can also be grown indoors, or it can be transferred to a shady area of the yard to be admired year after year.
Bleeding heart is a perennial that’s often used in the garden or in hanging baskets. The flowers are heart shaped with a “droplet” beneath, hence the common name. They come in colors of red, magenta, pink and white. They also will grow well indoors in a sunny room with a south- or west-facing window. Planted outdoors, they require a partly shaded area.
Anthurium is another good indoor flowering plant. The heart-shaped blooms come in red, white or pink. But the flower is actually a spathe — a kind of modified leaf that surrounds a flower cluster.
You can still give your sweetie roses. Try miniature roses that will do well in sunny rooms with a south- or west-facing window. For the best results, transplant them outdoors into a well-drained raised bed in full to partial sun. Or go all out and get some traditional roses that can be planted in the garden right away. They’re likely less costly than a bouquet and can be enjoyed year after year.
Calla lilies are another great plant. They are just gorgeous, with their tube-shaped flowers on glossy, green, arrow-shaped leaves. They come in all sorts of colors, such as yellow, red, pink, purple and the iconic white. And much like roses, their flower color symbolizes different things. Yellow symbolizes gratitude; pink symbolizes appreciation and admiration; purple symbolizes charm and passion; and white symbolizes purity and innocence.
What’s great about calla lilies is that they will come back year after year and bloom naturally in February and March. They can be planted outdoors in wet areas, much like our native Louisiana iris.
If you don’t necessarily need a flowering plant, you can try heart-shaped philodendron. They are so appropriate for the occasion and do great indoors. These plants are easy to care for and do best in a well-lit room with a window facing south or west.
Pearls on a string (Senecio rowleyanus) is another unique plant to give your loved one. Not all pearls come from the sea. These adorable succulents are easy-care plants and look really cute in hanging baskets because of their cascading habit.
Hearts on a string (Ceropegia woodii) is another trendy succulent plant that has caught on recently. Despite the delicate appearance of its heart-shaped, silver-engraved leaves, this is an easy-care plant that looks great anywhere in the house.
Persian cyclamen flowers look almost heart-shaped. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter
Orchids are gorgeous and easy-to-care-for indoor plants that are readily available. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter
Cyclamen come in a variety of colors, including magenta, hot pink, salmon and white. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter
Calla lilies come in all sorts of colors, such as yellow, red, pink, purple and the iconic white. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter