Every plant must flower to survive. All plants -- bulbs, perennials, shrubs, trees, grasses, to mention a few -- flower. Typically we herald flowers that are fragrant, showy and easy to grow, such as the frivolous and fun peach rose. Most people have a few that they prefer. Here are a some more common flowering friends that will make you smile.
Native to Turkey, tulips have a long history in world gardens and are often imported from Holland. They come in a rainbow of colors with tinged edges, color gradients and solid-color varieties. Petals can be miniature, fringed, upright or lily-flowering; bulbs are early or late flowering. Try the ever-popular single early tulip, Apricot Beauty, a truly stunning flower that opens with a glowing salmon color that fades to pastel pink with red-tinged edges. Be careful of tulip bulb placement in the garden; rodents love tulips almost as much as people do.
The red rose is a universal expression of love that wins hearts on Valentines Day, but symbolism aside, this standby is challenged by the show-stopping colors of its sisters. Yellow roses bring sunshine and friendship into the life of someone special, while pink roses offer condolences or sincere gratitude.
The typical florist rose is easy for a rose aficionado to cultivate, but for a novice gardener, shrub roses, with their wild and free-form habits, may be a bit easier. The easy-to-grow and jaw-dropping flowers of Rosa x 'Nearly Wild' or Rosa 'Carefree Beauty' will make your friends think your thumb is greener than your lawn.
Late summer brings the fantastic mop-head blooms of Hydrangea macrophylla, also known as the Bigleaf Hydrangea. The flower appears on a sprawling shrub in late summer and instantly you are transported to an era of heirloom plants and lemonade. In recent years, the Hydrangea has made a big splash at weddings, parties and outdoor summer events. Its large blooms last for at least four weeks, well into the last days of summer and early autumn. Some get discouraged with the lack of flowers on this plant, only to realize their over zealous pruning habits have removed new flower buds. So hold off on the shearing until after the plant has flowered for the season. Try the cute and compact variety 'Forever Pink' or the more traditional blue of 'Nikko Blue.' For an even more classic form, try Hydrangea paniculata 'Unique.' Its flowers are more upright in form than the rounded blossoms of Bigleaf Hydgrangea.
Chrysanthemums, or simply mums, are one of the most recognized flowers worldwide. Their showy blooms date back to the 15th century BC, when the love affair started. The flashy hybridized mums come in many forms, from petite and daisy-like to those with wild-fringed edges and teeny-tiny button flowers. You'll find them in many types of retail stores during the spring and fall. Moms appreciate getting mums for Mother's Day because some floral varieties can be planted outside for a repeat performance they can enjoy for several years. Mums come in a variety of colors, including yellow, red, oranges, purples, ivory and white. Some have a pungent odor and most are not valued indoors for their fragrance, but planted in the garden they can make a beautiful fall statement. Try the Korean hybrid types, such as the sprawling 'Apricot Single.' This plant blooms in the late fall. When all other plants are tired and falling into a winter's rest, Apricot Single is out there showing its translucent pale leaves like a bolt of white lightning streaking the garden.
Euphorbia pulcherrima, or poinsettias, are a native plant in Mexico that grows to about 10 feet tall. The botanical name means "very beautiful." The red, pink or white part of the plant is called bracts, which are just another form of a leaf. The bead-like center of the plant is actually the flower and is called the cyathia. According to the University of Illinois Extension, poinsettias are falsely accused of being poisonous, but research proves they are not. The most popular flowering plant sold in the United States, most just know it as the holiday flowers that make the room festive and the ornaments a tad more sparkly.
When you bring your plant home, make sure the leaves and bracts are covered. Poinsettias are sensitive to the cold and resent temperatures below 50 degrees Farenheit. Keep them away from drafts and cold windowpanes. Provide well-drained conditions and water only when the soil is dry. Keep light exposure even for six hours daily from an indirect light source. If you treat your poinsettia with care, it could last well past the holiday season.