Valentine's Day is the traditional time to give and get cut flowers. But it might be good to be a discerning shopper when buying cut flowers.
The majority of these flowers this time of year come from Columbia and Ecuador. More than 200 million roses are shipped to the U.S. for Valentine's Day, alone. But these roses may not be the healthiest for you or the workers in the greenhouses. Many farms heavily spray their roses so they look perfect when they hit the stores.
To make a more informed choice of roses, or any cut flower, look for sustainably grown flowers. SlowFlowers.com has a directory of florists, garden centers, and local growers that stock U.S. grown flowers that have tighter pesticide regulations. Also look for domestic and international cut flowers grown with sustainably grown labels, such as the Rainforest Alliance and Veriflora. These labels have standards that growers and workers have to follow in order to be recognized as sustainable.
If you've already bought or received Valentine's Day flowers, wash the foliage to remove pesticide residue and wash your hands after unwrapping and recutting the stems. Of course, keep animals and small children away from the flowers as well.
While cut flowers are glorious and great to get in the heart of winter, there are cheery potted flowers available that give a longer flower show. Moth orchids are widely available and the flowers can last for months. Just don't overwater them. Miniature roses are great little plants that stay in bloom for weeks and are a perennial flower in your garden.