There are about 200,000 kinds of flowers. Some flowers belong to the grass family and have no petals. Others resemble stars, balloons or even insects. Many flowers have a fragrance that attracts birds or insects that help fertilize them. Flowering plants include almost all of our grains, fruits and vegetables. Even the animals that are among our food source live on flowering plants. Flowers are commonly used as symbols of certain emotions. The violet stands for faithfulness, the daisy for innocence and the lily for purity.
Gladiolus is a plant with long spikes of large, silky blooms that are popular in vases and displays. The flowers grow above one another in long clusters along one side of the stem. Gladiolus have long, sword-shaped leaves.
The corm of the gladiolus should be planted between 3 and 8 inches deep, in full sun. The gladiolus is top-heavy, and if not planted deep enough, can pull out of the ground on windy days.
The name iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow. It has three sets of three petal-like parts. The lower set flares out and hangs down. The three upper segments curve up into a dome. The dried rhizome of certain bearded iris is used in perfumes and medicines.
The worst insect enemy of the iris is the iris borer. The borer eats it's way through the leaves and roots. This will cause the leaves to turn brown and the root to rot. The plant should be dug up and roots cleaned before replanting in fresh soil.
The best known species of the hibiscus is the lovely Chinese hibiscus, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. The hibiscus is the state flower of Hawaii.
In Jamaica and other West Indian islands, the hibiscus is known as "shoe flower" or "shoe black." The sap from the flower petals can be used as a polish for black leather shoes. The hibiscus has many medicinal benefits as well. In South Africa, the hibiscus is used for dressing wounds. South America uses the hibiscus for the treatment of snake bites. The Zulu use the hibiscus to treat skin conditions. The hibiscus flower is also used in shampoo to prevent dandruff.
The camellia is a semitropical evergreen tree or shrub related to the tea plant. The camellia is native to China and Japan. Camellias have shiny, dark green leaves and roselike flowers with heavy petals. The blossoms are commonly used for corsages. Camellias prefer loose, moist, fertile soil and filtered shade.
The camellia is the state flower of Alabama.