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Vermont Garden Journal: Valentine's Day Flowers

Joerg Sarbach
Most of the 200 million red roses sold on Valentine's Day come from Columbia and Ecuador.

  Broadcast on Friday, February 14 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.

The Vermont Garden Journal with Charlie Nardozzi is made possible by Gardener's Supply, offering environmental solutions for gardens and landscapes. In Burlington, Williston and

One legend has it this holiday descended from the ancient Roman fertility festival called Lupercalia where boys and girls would draw names to see who would be paired for the coming year. The Catholic church tried to coop this pagan festival and attribute it to a priest who secretly married young soldiers in defiance of the Roman emperor. His name was Saint Valentine. Later traditions called for the writing of poems and giving of cards. But flowers have always been a popular Valentines day gift.

Of course, the flower for Valentines is the rose. Most of the 200 million cut roses sold on Valentine's Day come from Colombia and Ecuador. Unfortunately most of these flowers are heavily spray with pesticides and they travel thousands of miles to reach florists. That's a heavy carbon footprint. For future cut flower purchases you might consider supporting regional cut flower growers and those growing them organically. Look for the Versiflora label that means the flowers were grown more sustainably or check out the slow flower movement that lists regional growers of cut flowers. 

Whatever flowers you've purchased for the big day, make sure they're cared for well. Once home, wash the stems and leaves to remove the pesticides and recut the stems under warm water. This way no air bubbles will get in the flower stem blocking the flow of water. Change the water daily recutting the stems each time and consider putting a commercial flower preservative in the vase. There are also many home preservatives people have used successfully such as aspirin, listerine, vodka, bleach and 7-Up. The idea is to add something that will kill harmful bacteria and feed the stems sugar. Let me know what preservative works best for you.

And now for this week's tip, check overwintering geraniums, dahlias, and cannas in a dark basement to see if they are starting to sprout. If so, pot them up and bring them into a cool, sunny room to grow slowly until spring.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about forcing flowering branches. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Slow Flowers
Preserving Cut Flowers

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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