Roses are so… ordinary.
Be bold this Valentine's Day. Give her - or him - any of a variety of locally-grown flowering plants.
Amaryllis, cyclamen, African violets, azaleas, begonias, gardenias, bulbs, rosemary, and hibiscus are grown in Hillsborough County and available at many garden centers and plant nurseries. An offering of these plants shows you gave your gift - and your sweetheart - a good deal of thought.
In many cases, plants are preferable to cut flowers. Cuttings last a week or two, at best. After Valentine's Day, plants can be moved to the garden or remain in a pot on a windowsill.
Caring for a living plant might encourage its recipient to become more involved in gardening. Hillsborough County's Extension Service can help. Agents welcome questions. Give them a call at (813) 744-5519.
Once you settle on a Valentine's Day gift, check with garden centers and nurseries for the best selection and prices. Local garden clubs also can be good sources of advice and plants.
Alas, if your sweetie's heart is set on cut roses, there are many colors in addition to red - pink, apricot, and yellow, for example. Be sure to refill the vase with fresh water periodically, and consider supplementing the bouquet with locally-grown greenery to make it unique and more appealing.
Photo: Azaleas are among locally-grown plants that show your Valentine's Day affection throughout the year.