How to get the most from them
It’s the time of year to bring out the flowers. Whether you plan to display fresh-cut flowers in your home or office or regal your garden with a blooming array of color, professional florists at the flower markets throughout the Appalachians are ready to give you a hand.
Visit your local small nursery or get flower fever at a bustling store brimming with fancy bouquets. You can learn to make a flower arrangement for a special occasion, maintain your flower garden or select just the right bulbs to plant. Knowing what you want can help narrow your search. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your flower foraging.
Bulbs as a Bright Idea
The bulbs you plant grow into flowers, so it’s worthwhile to be picky. Generally, the largest bulbs are the healthiest and will produce the biggest flowers. On the other hand, you can save money by buying medium-sized bulbs, especially if you want volume over flower size. Consider what you want your end result to be.
Select healthy bulbs that are:
- Evenly colored
- Firm to the touch
- Heavier than they look
It’s usually fine if the tunic (outer layer) of the bulb is cracking open, but make sure the skin underneath is not damaged. Avoid bulbs that look mushy or pale, withered or cut. Spots and discoloration can be signs of disease.
Weigh the pros and cons of different packages. Loose bulbs allow you to do a thorough examination, but it’s likely they’ve been touched by many different customers. Pre-packaged bulbs are hard to examine, but you’ll get a more standardized set.
Starter Plants Grow Quickly
Starter plants are plants that are already growing, ready for transport to your garden. Advantages include:
- You can get a good feel for the health of the plant.
- You can tell what they will look like.
- It’s easier to avoid plants with obvious blemishes or deformities.
Disadvantages of starter plants:
- You are transporting a living thing out of its home and giving it a new place to grow.
- Special factors contribute to the plant’s health, such as a specific fertilizer or a protected environment.
- The plant may not fare as well elsewhere.
- Very often, healthy plants taken to a new environment deteriorate quickly.
Cut Flowers Ready to Go
Time generally is the biggest factor when buying cut flowers.
- Cut flowers should be put in water as soon as possible.
- If you want flowers to be in peak condition in a few days time, it’s more appropriate to buy plants that are in the process of blooming.
- Time frames vary for different species.
Many flower markets offer customers a shelf to keep cut flowers while you continue shopping. Use this to your advantage. If you are putting together an arrangement, use the shelf to see what different flowers look like side by side.
Go Where the Flowers Bloom
Below is a short list of Appalachian flower suppliers you may want to visit before you start your own garden. Check with the professionals when you have a question about which flowers grow best in your area, when to plant at just the right time of the month and what kind of fertilizer, soil and placement will produce the most colorful, abundant display:
- Park Seed: Since 1868, Park Seed has been harvesting and selling the seeds they grow through catalogue and in-house sales. Currently in Greenwood, South Carolina, Park Seed carries bulbs, seeds, seed starting supplies and everything you’ll need to grow healthy vibrant flowers.
- Meadows Farms: Up in the northeast corner of West Virginia in Harpers Ferry, catch the season’s first blooms, bulbs and seeds at Meadows Farms. They’ve got landscape designers on hand to help you choose the perfect flowers to build your own flower garden.
- Raymond’s Garden Center: In the heart of the Appalachians in Hendersonville, North Carolina, you’ll find some of the heartiest native flowering plants in the area. Raymond’s prides itself on carrying some of the hardest-to-find native and wild flowers that you can easily transfer to your own garden.
- Knox Seed: Buy in bulk or take home a few seeds to make a widely attractive flower garden at Knox Seed in Knoxville, Tennessee. Get starter plants that have been carefully grown in the on-site greenhouses or seeds of every local variety.
Photo credits: articlesweb.org, gazettenet.com, bcliving.ca, ecopreneurist.com