One legend has it this holiday descended from the ancient Roman fertility festival where boys and girls would draw names to see who would be paired for the coming year. The Catholic church attributed this day to a priest who secretly married young soldiers in defiance of the Roman emperor. His name was Saint Valentine.
While later traditions called for the writing of poems and giving of cards, flowers have always been a popular Valentine's day gift.
And the flower of Valentine's Day is the rose. Two hundred million cut roses are sold on Valentine's Day and most come from Colombia and Ecuador.
Unfortunately many of these flowers are heavily sprayed with pesticides and have traveled thousands of miles to reach your florist.
For fresher, less sprayed cut flowers, consider supporting regional cut flower growers and those growing them organically.
Look for the Veriflora label that means the flowers were grown more sustainably or check out the slow flower movement that lists regional cut flower growers. Also, consider a potted flower instead which could last for years.
Whatever cut flowers you've purchased, make sure they're well cared for.
Once home, wash the stems and leaves to remove the pesticides. Recut the stems under warm water so no air bubbles will get in the stems, blocking the flow of water. Change the water daily, recutting the stems each time, and add a commercial flower preservative to the vase.
There are also many home preservatives people have used such as aspirin, listerine, vodka, bleach, and 7-Up. The idea is to add something that will kill harmful bacteria and feed the stems sugar.
Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I’ll be talking about houseplant pests. Until then I’ll be seeing you in the garden.