Posted On: February 12, 2014

Gardener Steph: Valentine’s Day Flowers

Valentine’s Day is almost here. A box of chocolates, a bouquet of roses, and a romantic candle light dinner are just some of the things that come to mind for the holiday. Roses have been the stalwart token of love and passion. Red roses are especially valued. Many growers harvest Valentine’s Day roses up to a month ahead of time where they then refrigerate the flowers to help meet the sudden demand in supply. If you haven’t put in your rose order yet, take a moment to consider some alternatives¬†¬†Valentine’s Day flower favorites.

Flowers are valued for their beauty. Throughout history they have been items of personal adornment and tokens of appreciation. In times before deodorants, perfumes, and preservation, no formal event would be complete without the sweet smell of flowers. Over time, different stories and lore came into place. A language of flowers or floriography developed early on in many civilizations in which each flower had a meaning. The more well known floriographies originate from Ottoman Turkey and Victorian England. So maybe your date is not a floriographist. That doesn’t mean you can’t impress him or her with the meaning behind these prime Valentine’s Day picks.

Calla Lily (Zantedeschia sp.)

Calla Lilies are the symbol of regal elegance. White Calla’s are said to symbolize purity and are a prime flower for wedding arrangements. Calla’s now come in many different colors, from orange to purple you are sure to impress your loved one with their beauty. Calla’s are also incredibly long lasting as cut flowers. If kept in a cool area out of direct light, you can keep these beauties up to three weeks without wilting. Keep an eye out for Madison Square Park’s purple ‘Paco’ Callas this May.

Aster (Aster sp.)

Many might think of asters as fall plants, but their tiny flowers make great small filler in larger arrangements. Asters are considered to be symbols of love and daintiness. Just be careful if you are adding these to arrangements yourself. Asters contain Sesquiterpene lactone which can cause contact dermatitis on people who are handling large quantities.

Tulip (Tulipia sp.)

The Ottoman empire picked tulips as a symbol of fame and perfect love. Tulips during this time were given simply as a declaration of love. Tulips come in many different colors and are widely available commercially. At the very least check out the thousands we have planted in the park this spring.

Carnations (Dianthus sp.)

I often think of Carnations as hipster roses. Carnations are in many ways the retro gift you received at your elementary school graduation or first dance recital. In general they represent fascination and divine love. Pick pink carnations to say “I’ll never forget you.” Red will proclaim “My heart aches for you!” While white carnations will declare a sweet and lovely pure love. Stay away from yellow or striped carnations as they symbolize rejection. Our pink carnations out at Worth Square are nothing but scraps of grey leaves at the moment, but look for them this spring when you’re out on the square enjoying your morning coffee.

Should you ultimately go with roses, keep these color meanings in mind.

A red rose is an unmistakable expression of love. Red roses convey deep love, longing, or desire. Orange roses can be used to express intense desire, pride and fervor. Pink roses are used to convey gentle emotions such as admiration, joy, and gratitude. White and yellow roses are not recommended as they represent sympathy and in some cases yellow roses can also represent friendship.