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Flower Blog Archive - February 2006

The Flower Expert welcomes the flower enthusiasts to the special feature - Flower Blogs where the flower lovers can share the knowledge about flowers and flower related topics with the flower admiring community world-wide.

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New gene yields unique blossoms with profusion of petals

Tomorrow's flowers may produce blooms with a dazzling profusion of petals. That's thanks to research at the Plant Gene Expression Center, in Albany, California, where scientists have discovered the petal-producing prowess of a gene named--appropriately enough--Ultrapetala.
Their work could eventually result in unusual new flowers for homes, parks, and offices. That should not only add new beauty to our surroundings, but also create attractive opportunities for growers and florists for new profits. Today, America's $11 billion floriculture industry is one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture. Read more...

Roses need a little love to survive

Diamonds may be forever, but a study by the University of Florida confirmed that carefully cultivated flowers can also have staying power. University of Florida environmental horticulturist Terril Nell has pinpointed several methods to extend the vase life of flowers, a discovery resulting from a three-year study on roses.
The most important element of flower care is ensuring consumers practice careful treatment, he said. However, the process of assuring flowers' longevity begins far before an arrangement ever reaches a grocery store stand. Read more...

Fall Flower Bulbs

Fall is a season, most of us think, when trees are changing colors and dying. For many, the autumn leaves are our last dance with color before the dark, gray winter sets in. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Fall flowers can offer a splash of rebirth and color in a season otherwise known for falling leaves.
Bulbs are living plants and contain their own storage of food. Flower bulbs are quite self-sufficient and will strive to bloom, no matter when or where they are planted. Fall flower bulbs are planted in the spring or summer and flower in the early fall. Some examples are lilacs, colchicums, and saffron crocuses. The colchicums are extremely unusual in that they will bloom without being planted, though they do need soil to develop roots.
When selecting fall flower bulbs, you should look for bulbs that are firm and free of visible defects. If you desire large flowers, buy large bulbs. Small bulbs will produce smaller flowers. Most fall flower bulbs cannot survive the winter. Such flower bulbs have to be dug up each fall and stored until planting time. Bulbs should be stored in a cool, dry place. A dry basement is ideal. If you do not have a basement, a dark, unheated closet or utility room will also work. Read more about fall flowering bulbs.

Pussy Willows

In my region (Northeastern U.S.), not many people walk for pleasure this time of year outdoors: it's too cold! But I will insist upon taking my daily walks in late February. Why? Because discerning eyes can sometimes find signs of spring here, even before we turn the calendar over to March. Pussy willows are one of those early signs, and I can't wait to see them!

Interestingly, what we admire in pussy willows is not what is technically the flower of the plant, but the furry "catkin." After the catkins produce their tiny flowers, we consider pussy willows to have "gone to seed" and to have become worthless. -- David Beaulieu

When the Bamboo Flowers...

"When the bamboo flowers, famine, death and destruction will soon follow", goes a traditional saying in Mizoram, the tiny hill state in north-east India.
Who better than the hardy Mizos would know this, considering that theirs is probably the only land on earth where history is closely intertwined with the mysterious cycle of bamboo flowering. Back in 1959, bamboo flowering in the state set off a chain of events in the rugged hilly state that ultimately led to one of the most powerful insurgencies against the Indian union spanning over two decades.
Folklore apart, scientists say that the strange phenomena of bamboo flowering, called gregarious bamboo flowering because the bamboo clumps flower all at the same time only once in the plants' lifetime, wreaks ecological havoc because of two reasons. First, bamboo plants die after flowering. It will be at least some years before bamboo plants take seed again, leaving bare exposed soil - which could be disastrous in mountainous states - and also leading to food scarcity, since animals depend on bamboo plants. The second factor is that rats feed on the flowers and seeds of the dying bamboo tree. This activates a rapid birth rate among the rodents, which leads to the huge rat population feeding on agricultural crops in the fields and granaries and causes famine. Read the detailed article by Linda Chhakchhuak

A tip for Preserving Our Edible Flowers

To preserve our edible flowers, put them on moist paper and place together in a hermetically-sealed container or in plastic wrapping. This way, certain species can be preserved in the refrigerator for some 10 days. If the flowers are limp, they can be revitalized by floating them on icy water for a few moments; don't leave too long or else they will lose some of their flavor.

Snowdrop Flowers

In my region (Northeastern U.S.), the winter of 2006 has been surprisingly mild, so far. Most winters here, I have to bundle up in three layers of clothing in order to step outside in comfort. But with the above-average temperatures this winter, I'm almost starting to take it for granted that I can step outside in shorts with impunity!

Without this reprieve from Old Man Winter, I'd be loath to mention the word, "snow" at this time of year, even if only in the context of discussing snowdrop flowers. These are the delightful harbingers of spring who, impatient as we are for the new growing season, ofttimes poke their heads up through the last thin layer of snow. And it won't be long till we see the snowdrop flowers of 2006.

Healthy houseplants can mean a healthier you

Beating the winter blahs with houseplants gives us a psychological boost. Who can feel glum when nose-deep in a blooming cyclamen, or awaiting the day that your amaryllis bursts into bloom?
Houseplants also will do more for our physical health than we may realize. In the winter, people breathe interior air that may contain traces of toxic chemicals. One way to avoid these pollutants is to avoid stoves, carpets, furniture, paint, building materials, paper products, permanent press clothing (formaldehyde), plastics, pesticides, detergents (benzene), adhesives, paint and spot removers (trichloroethylene) – in other words, most of what surrounds us in our homes. Fortunately, several common houseplants thrive on these toxins, and can help purify the air we breathe.
Read the detailed article by Anne Moore.

Experts fear for popular flowers

Some of the most beloved British summer wildflowers are in fact, the most endangered, according to the botanical charity Plantlife International.
Researchers say arable plants, a group which includes poppies and buttercups, have shown the greatest decline of any type of British flora. The group is urging farmers to count the arable plants on their land to create an accurate national survey.
BBC environment correspondent Sarah Mukherjee says scientists are worried that many of these plants - once considered weeds - have declined to the point of extinction. Read more...

Wisconsin School for Cut Flower Growers

Are you interested in turning your passion for growing flowers into a small business?
Do you wonder which varieties to grow for florists or farmers' market customers?
Are you curious how much labor and money are needed to start a cut flower business?
The Wisconsin School for Cut Flower Growers is a two-day workshop designed to help new and beginning growers learn the ins and outs of growing and marketing cut flowers.
This workshop will be held on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus Saturday, Feb. 11 and Sunday, Feb.12. Registration costs $175 and includes lunches and refreshments. Enrollment is limited, so early registration is strongly recommended.
The school will be taught by two experienced grower-instructors: third generation flower grower Joe Schmitt and Rich Mansheim of Sandhill Farm. They will provide practical information on how to grow and sell flowers and manage a cut flower business. Learn more about The Wisconsin School for Cut Flower Growers workshop on cut flowers.

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