CUT-FLOWERS





Above: The yellow flowers of Forsythia complement very well with the auspicious colour of Chinese New Year which is RED.

Everyone can recognise Forsythia immediately by its beautiful golden-yellow bell-shaped flowers. The bare, budded stems will open INDOORS in plain water with no problems and I do not understand why it is not popular among the local Singaporeans. One main reason that I could think of is probably the shorter vase life of the flowers as compared to the pussy willows. Personally I prefer forsythia as I dislike white flowers though some may argue that pussy willows are not white but SILVER! Whether it is silver or not, yellow is still a very striking colour during spring time and will light up any living room or table top. As for peach blossoms, they are usually very expensive and flowers will only open when the weather is cool unlike the forsythia which is more heat tolerant.

When to purchase them

Above: Forsythia takes 3 days from buds on the left to full bloom on the right.

As the flowers open very fast within 1-2 days in water, it is best to purchase them about 3-5 days before Chinese New Year. This year can be a bit tricky as Chinese New Year falls on a Sunday and it always pays to check with the nurseries on their shipment. Frankly speaking, most have already arrived but are kept in refrigerated containers and are on sale only a few days before the new year. Thus you may need to buy them on Wednesday or Thursday as they will be snapped up very quickly by the early birds and by the time you reach there, most of them have already opened which I doubt you will be buying them anyway.

How to select plants

Select those with lots of buds prefably with some yellows at the tip of the bud to ensure the bud is healthy. Yellows should be bright.

Price range

Forsythia are more expensive than pussy willows and a dozen stalks (five feet) costs at least $60 or more in most nurseries.

Flowering period

About a week though they can be kept till the fifteenth day where the coarsely toothed leaves about 5-10 cm long will start to sprout.

Above: Yellow bell-shaped flowers bring out the festive cheers of Spring.

Care

(Rating: 3)

Change water once a day.

After flowering

Above: The coarsely toothed leaves emerge.

(Rating: 1)

It is discarded after flowering. Recently, potted Forsythia are available too but are best discarded as well. Forsythia species should be tried in areas where winters are cold. They are very easy to grow in any rich well-drained soil in a cold temperate climate and are easily stuck from cuttings. Too bad, we are talking about tropical Singapore here and I shall not elaborate further.




Left: It was pure luck that I ran into this bouquet with lots of buds and 1-2 partially opened buds to ensure they were red oriental lilies.
Right: Flowers were opened in 3-5 days. Smell heavenly right?

Some of you may be surprised that I recommend lilies as cut flowers for Chinese New Year since they have notoriously very short vase life in our warm climate, most ending up to five days or less. Though I like the orange ones, they do not last long and fail to open fully when days are warmer. Some may even fail to open and drop prematurely instead. Sounds bad for Chinese New Year right? The yellows are as bad. Lately I come across the red oriental lilies and they have proven to be more heat tolerant than the rest. Their fragrance is more empowering and most of them have a longer vase life.

When to purchase them

About 3-5 days before Chinese New Year since each flower takes about 2-3 days to bloom. progressively.

How to select plants

The end of each flower stalk should be white and the buds are plump and elastic. It is good to select a bouquet with an open flower so that you are rest assured that it is the RED ones that you are buying as all lilies, whether white or red look almost the same when in bud. Your family will swear at you if they turn out to be white on the first day of Chinese New Year. Touch wood!!!

Price range

About $15 for 5 stalks.

Flowering period

Can last up till the fifteenth day if the flowers are very fresh or newly arrived.

Care

(Rating: 3)

Fill the vase with slightly more than a quarter of water. Too much water will cause the flower stalks to turn soft prematurely and flowers will not last that long. Cut off about an inch of the stalk for better absorption of water. Change water once a day. Usually, florists remove the huge anthers as the pollen grains stain pretty bad on your new tablecloth and your shining marble floor. Removal is difficult. I feel that the flower does not look like a lily anymore with its anthers removed. Anthers are removed only when the petals have changed colour as it is a sign that the stamens are going to drop anytime.

After flowering

Discard them away.





COPYRIGHT 2004 - 2006 Green Culture Singapore All rights reserved
Best viewed with a resolution of 1024 x 768