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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Give a plant to your Valentine

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It is still a little dreary outside, so why not make the inside of your house warm and colorful with a special gift idea for those you love on Valentine's Day.

This gift that I am talking about is not a card, candy or a stuffed animal. The gift that I think makes the inside of a house warm and color actually grows and lives for as long as you care to maintain it. By now, you are probably starting to wonder what it might be and if you haven't already figured it out, I am referring to a plant.

There are a few different plants that are lovely to give around Valentine's Day. Those that I am referring to include heartleaf philodendron, cyclamen, and anthurium. For a beginner gardener, heartleaf philodendron is an excellent plant to have. It is easy to find and easy to grow. It is a vine with heart-shaped leaves that grows great in hanging baskets or by wrapping around upright supports. It tends to thrive in moderate indirect light with moist soil and high humidity.

Cyclamen is another plant with heart-shaped leaves. It is often adorned with flowers that can be white, pink, red and lavender. The flowers are often described as birds in flight. What is truly unique about this plant's leaves is the white colored water markings that adorn them. Cyclamens range in size, but thrive best with bright light, cooler temperatures and well drained soil.

Anthurium is also called "Heart of Hawaii," and is known for its large, shiny, often heart-shaped leaves. The flower of this plant ranges in color from scarlet, pink, white, and lilac. Once it blooms, the flower will last for weeks and is an excellent flower to use in a flower arrangement. It is best to plant anthuriums in coarse, well-drained soil and place it where it can receive bright indirect light.

Once you know what plant you would like to give someone, you should then consider what type of container to plant it in. Almost anything can be used as a container for a plant. However, you need to make sure that it has drainage holes and is the appropriate size.

Some of the containers that are on the market include glazed and unglazed clay containers, plastic containers, and metal buckets. Glazed clay containers and metal buckets are decorative and look attractive in homes, but they often do not have good drainage. If you choose to use these, then you should place the plant in a properly sized unglazed clay container with drainage holes and then put it inside the decorative container. Be sure to discard the excess water that will be at the bottom of the decorative container after watering.

Unglazed clay containers are very popular. They also provide adequate drainage. However, their downfall is that they can be heavy and often accumulate unsightly salt residue on their sides as water evaporates. The good point to note is that even though the salt residue is unsightly, it is generally not harmful to the plant unless it accumulates in the soil.

When purchasing a plastic container, make sure it has drainage holes.

There are some out there on the market which do not and then you run into the same problem that arises when using glazed clay containers or metal buckets.

Plastic containers are nice since they are often light weight and usually decorative. In comparison to unglazed clay containers, they do not accumulate as much salt residue. However, they can be too light weight, allowing for them to be knocked over easily.

Plants are an excellent gift for a loved one that shows you care. When purchasing a plant, pay attention to its drainage and light requirements. Try to find an appropriately sized container (with drainage holes) to place it in. Once you have the gift ready, enjoy the smile that it brings to the person's face when you give it to them. If you have any questions or concerns about agriculture, horticulture, or natural resources, contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly via e-mail at smith535@purdue.edu.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Feb. 12 -- Crop Insurance and Market Panel Outlook, Wabash Valley Fairgrounds, 9 a.m.-noon,

* Feb. 16 -- No-Till Breakfast and PARP, 8 a.m.-noon, McCormick's Creek State Park. Call 812-829-2605 to register. Cost $10 for PARP credit,

* Feb. 19 -- Owen County 4-H Recruitment YMCA Party, 4-8 p.m., Spencer YMCA. Call 812-829-5020 to register by Feb. 10, and

* Feb. 27 -- Spring Into Spring Seminar, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Putnam County Fairgrounds. Cost $35. Call 442-5312 to register by Feb. 12.