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  Mike's Gardening Tips

The Most Romantic Show of All (...and much nicer flowers than you could buy; that's for sure!)

Heads up, fellas! Saturday, February 14th is Saint Valentine's Day! And if you didn't know that, this is already the best gardening tip you've ever heard! Let me begin my horticulturally-appropriate Valentine's Day gift suggestions with a trip to The Philadelphia Flower Show! That's right--take your sweetie down to Philly and you'll both enjoy a very special presentation of the biggest and best indoor Flower Show in the world--the 175th Anniversary extravaganza! (Y' know--I been feeling like I'm coming up on MY 175th...) Anyway, it all happens--the Flower Show, not my next birthday--March 7th to the 14th. Order tickets online, and you could have them in hand to present to your sweetie on Saturday! Maybe even go all the way and sign up for the 'tres romantique Flower Show tea as well; ("pass me one o' them little sanderwichers, will ya?" And the most romantic possibility of all? I'll be speaking there on Thursday, March 11th! OK, I shoulda stopped with the tea thing.

- All the details are at www.theflowershow.com.

"Are those GOOD roses? Or BAAAD roses?!"
Looking for a traditional gift with a special spin for Valentine's Day? How about roses that have been organically grown--no nasty pesticides ever applied to their pretty petals. "Organic Bouquet" will send your sweetie a dozen, two dozen, or five dozen organically grown roses or 20 organic red tulips. And if that sweetie prefers a more shall we say 'practical' organic gift ("but its not like you can eat them!"), consider their giant bundle--150 sprigs!--of organic lavender; organically grown fruits; or gift baskets that include organic chocolate. (The 'Winter Warmer' basket is an especially good deal--and its on sale! Nudge, nudge; wink, wink) It's all at "Organic Bouquet."

Or are ALL Roses the "Wrong" Roses?
If you are planning on giving your sweetie red roses, you should know that in the ancient 'Floral Code' known as the Language of Flowers red roses simply mean 'love' in general. They are NOT the flower whose hidden meaning is "I Love YOU". To convey that specific message, red Tulips are the flowers to give your sweetie. You shouldn't have any trouble finding cut tulips for sale. But you can also find nice pots of forced tulips in garden centers and nurseries right now. Those flowers still have their underground bulbs attached, and can be planted in the ground after they're finished blooming. Then they'll return year after year; a symbol of your never-ending love! Oh, and the Captain of your Horticultural Love Boat here says to then keep the plants in their pots, lightly watered, in good light till the flowers fade, and then make sure the leaves have good light and stay even lightlier watered till they're done. Then let the bulbs rest and plant in the Fall.

Or Consider a Orchid, Instead
Besides, Anybody can go and buy a dozen cut roses for Valentine's Day--at least after a long stop at an ATM. Instead, why not present your sweetie with an equally romantic Valentine's Day flower that will stay in bloom for months, and, with a little luck, come back into bloom many times? Yes, I'm talking orchids. Specifically the easy-care Phalaenopsis, also known as 'the moth orchid' because the flowers look like rows of little butterflies in flight. You'll often get 8 to 10 blooms on a single plant, and those flowers are long lasting. Get a nice fresh one and the blooms may last for six months! Don't settle for a plant with a few open flowers and no buds; that orchid is just about done. Pick a plant with a few flowers open and lots of unopened buds. Give it good light, and keep the air around it moist. People will think you're an orchid care expert, like I'm trying to get them to think I am!

And if roses you must....
You REALLY want Valentine cut roses to last--after all, they're quite an investment this week! So, we will share a little cut flower secret we learned here on the show a few years back from one of our absolute favorite guests: Irish pastor and internationally renowned floral designer, the Reverend William McMillan: Cut two inches off the bottom of each stem while holding it under water, then immediately plunge the bottom of the cut stem into boiling water for a few seconds to 'condition' it, then immediately drop it into a vase filled with fresh water. Roses that go through this 'conditioning' process stay fresh twice as long. And THIS Irishman suggests that your 'rose-holding vase' be filled with half water and half 7UP; the sugar and citric acid in the soda will help further prolong those flowers--naturally, of course!

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