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Unusual flowering houseplants for Valentine's Day

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If your sweetheart is a gardener, what better way to say "I love you" with an interesting blooming houseplant? These five are incredibly beautiful and will be sure to bring a smile.

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Kolanchoe

If you receive a kalanchoe as a Valentine’s Day gift, place it in a room with a bright south-facing window. It will enjoy a temperature that stays around 60 degrees.

In spring, move your kalanchoe to in an east or west-facing window. Then once all frost danger has passed, you can move it outside to a patio or deck for the summer.

Thoroughly water the kalanchoe. Allow the soil to dry out between watering. This is very important due to the thick, fleshy leaves. If the soil is kept too moist and not allowed to dry out, the roots may rot. Always pour out the excess water that remains in the saucer after watering.

Remove the flowers after they fade. This encourages the plant to put its energy into the root formation, instead of producing seeds. Cut off the entire flower stem to the second or third leaf below the old flowers. When you water, only give the plant a little bit of water. When the kalanchoe begins growing and you see new growth, water as usual.

Every spring, repot your kalanchoe. Use the same sized pot unless the roots are visible on the outside of the root ball. If the roots are visible, use the next sized pot. Do not bury the root ball any deeper than it was originally growing.

Remove the dead flowers after they fade. This encourages the plant to put its energy into the roots, instead of producing seeds. Cut off the entire flower stem to the second or third leaf below the old flowers.

Every spring, repot your kalanchoe. If roots are visible, use the next sized pot and if not, just repot with fresh potting soil. Do not bury the root ball any deeper than it was originally growing.

Hibiscus

Hibiscus are gorgeous tropical plants that flower in shades of red, pink, yellow, white and bi colors.

If you live somewhere hot and light, you should go more towards partial sun. In Northern states, your hibiscus will probably be happier in full sun. It will enjoy being outside on a patio or deck in the summer, but be sure to move it inside before the temperatures get to 55 degrees or less.

In the winter, try putting your hibiscus in an east, west or south facing window. Though your hibiscus will need less water in the winter, be aware that once you turn on your heat, your air will be dry, which can be hard on tropical plants, so you will need to water more often.

Hibiscus are thirsty plants and will only thrive and produce blossoms if they are given enough water. Depending on heat, wind and humidity, your plant may need to be watered daily - in extremely dry or windy conditions - twice a day. Hibiscus are tropical plants, so they don't like to dry out. However, they also don't like to be soaking wet, so you have to be careful not to drown your plants. Keep the soil moist, like a wrung out washcloth consistency. If your hibiscus is dropping leaves, or you're seeing yellowing leaves at the top of the hibiscus, chances are it's not getting enough water.

Be sure to feed the hibiscus regularly. It is recommended to use a diluted, liquid fish emulsion/seaweed combination every other week, or by using a slow release type fertilizer.

Azaleas

Azaleas that are container grown are called florist azaleas. This tender winter- and spring-blooming house plant flowers abundantly in shades of pink, white, peach, lavender, red or bi-colored.

Place your florist azalea in bright light, with no direct sun.

Keep soil thoroughly moist. If allowed to dry out, foliage shrivels and flowers wilt. If this happens a last ditch effort to save the plant would be to plunge it into a sink full of lukewarm water and allow it to soak up moisture for about 15 minutes or so.

Azaleas enjoy a cooler room, between 50 and 60 degrees. Be sure not to place the azalea in front of a hot air vent.

Passion Flower

With a name like passion flower, what a great idea for Valentine's Day.

Passionflower isn't fussy. Provide light soil that drains well and keep the plant moist. Passionflower likes sun but will tolerate partial shade.

Although there are over 400 varieties of passion flower, many, like Passiflora incarnate, are vines that grow to 30 feet. Thankfully, this is not typical of what it would grow like as a indoor house plant. Instead, plan on it growing to about 5 to 6 feet, and prune as needed.

Passionflower is considered a warm weather plant and will love to summer outside on a deck or patio, but be sure to bring it back indoors before the temperatures dip down into the 50s.

Anthurium

These flowers look like something surreal. Anthuriums grow best with day temperatures of 78 to 90 F, and night temperatures of 70 to 75 F.

While Anthuriums are able to handle dryness around the root ball, they need to be watered thoroughly and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. Allowing the plant to dry out will greatly slow down the growth cycle. Drying out can also cause the tip to burn and root damage, while over watering can also cause root damage and sudden yellowing of leaves.

Anthuriums as a rule will take about as much light as you can provide them with, indoors-but not direct sunlight. Lower levels of light will slow down or cease flower production.

The potting media should be of a peat moss base with a 1:1:1 ratio of peat moss, pine bark and perlite. This is very similar to an orchid potting mix The soil should be settled firmly around the roots and the root system should fill the pot before the plant is moved up to a larger pot size.

To learn more about lighting conditions for those and other houseplants, please see http://gardening.about.com/.

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