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Horticulture Expert Tom Smith Has the Picks for Valentine's Day

Date: Feb. 1, 2002
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Archive: General News

We're coming up on that day for lovers, and no sweetheart wants to get caught empty-handed on Valentine's Day. The tradition has long been to say 'I love you' with flowers. Tom Smith, area coordinator of the University of Cincinnati horticulture program, says roses remain the most popular Valentine arrangement. They are also the most expensive. Tom Smith at Spring Grove Cemetery

"It's not uncommon to see a rose stem costing upwards of three-dollars apiece, especially at this time of year," he explains. "But it's not price gouging, it's simply keeping up with supply and demand."

Smith says you can extend your investment in fresh-cut flowers by following a few simple steps:

1. Shop for flowers that look fresh, without drooping buds or browning petal margins.

2. Select arrangements with tight buds. They'll last a little longer.

3. Re-cut the stems with a razor-sharp knife. Stems should be cut at an angle, not straight across.

4. Place bouquet in a vase filled with cold water and a bloom extender. Change the water after about three days to avoid decomposition.

Smith also has some favorite potted plants you can move from your windowsill to your yard. "Of my all-time favorites is Cyclamen. It is a cool season potted plant that will continue to bloom when the temperatures are between 55-60 degrees. Best placement for these outstanding plants is right on a windowsill or porch."

Potted miniature roses, says Smith, are still hardy enough to plant outside. "Another option is forced bulbs. Personally, I like tete a' tete. This is a neat little yellow daffodil, big on color. The plant reaches only about eight inches tall, but packs the additional punch. It can be transplanted into the landscape where it can bloom for another 30 years."

Speaking of bulbs and blooms, Smith says the recent warm spell weather has gardeners a little worried that they're going to lose their landscape with the cold snap. "We recommend that people don't try anything extra to protect plants. Don't try to cover them up or second-guess Mother Nature. In this case, nature knows best."

Smith explains that the temperature of the soil will not drop as quickly as the temperature of the air. "When the atmospheric temperature plummets, the soil temperature is not as quick to drop. Therefore, the bulbs you've planted aren't affected by these sudden fluctuations in temperature. I can't remember a time when a hardy bulb was decimated by the cold weather." Instead, Smith says the unusual warm spell in late January will extend the beauty of the landscape.

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