Lavender
Lavender
Butterfly orchid
Butterfly orchid
Red rose
Red rose
Cherry red anthurium
Cherry red anthurium
Cyclamen
Cyclamen
On Valentine’s Day, flowers usually get to do the talking and what you offer your loved one speaks volumes, especially if they are adept at reading between the lines.

Here is an update on the language of flowers for this year.

Red roses are the traditional declaration of love, and no other colour will do; but pay attention to the shade of red.

A bright, red rose expresses romantic love, while a dark red rose epitomises courage and longing. Burgundy, likewise, means love still has to be realised and reddish brown denotes a sense of completeness.

Good to know: To increase the vase life of your red roses, fill a vase with hot water from the tap (not scalding) because the hot water drives the air-bubbles out of the stem of the roses, especially if they have been out of water for some time.

Butterfly orchids (Phalaenopsis), like roses, are the quintessential Valentine’s flower, prized for its rare and fragile beauty. Since ancient times it has symbolised love, beauty, fertility, refinement, thoughtfulness and charm. You can’t go wrong with any of these sentiments, although the fertility aspect could take you into risky territory!

A pot orchid flowers four to five months non-stop and can be tiny and delicate (3cm in diameter) or almost the size of dinner plates, 14cm in diameter. It is known as the “beginner’s orchid”, owing to its ability to withstand neglect and the often less-than-perfect conditions inside our homes.

Good to know: Give plants indirect light (medium to bright). Water once a week. Place two ice-cubes (literally) on top of the potting mix once a week and as the ice cubes melt, the water slowly seeps through the pot.

Cyclamen, has always been associated with long-lasting love and sincerity. Whereas roses might fade, cyclamen is the plant to present to your loved one to convince them of your enduring affections.

The tuberous nature of the cyclamen plant allows it to withstand difficult conditions. It grows naturally in Turkey’s mountainous regions, and can withstand icy temperatures, even flowering under the snow.

Good to know: It does best in a cool room, but with good light. It is a rewarding patio plant or courtyard plant too, especially when shown off en masse. Keep the soil moist but don’t over-water as it rots easily.

Lavender always evokes a sense of serenity, peace and happiness; and what better sentiments could one wish the recipient, especially if the offering is made in friendship rather than romantic love.

Keep the pot indoors in bright light (it can even take some sunshine) and when it is finished flowering, plant it out in the garden.

Make a point of rubbing its leaves every time you walk past it and enjoy the lovely fragrance or put a sprig of leaves under your pillow to perfume your dreams.

Good to know: The soil can dry out moderately between watering. Cut back after flowering to encourage new blooms. Garden plants need full sun.

Anthurium lends itself to romantic declarations because of its heart-shaped flowers and leaves, and not surprisingly its symbolic meaning is “simply irresistible”. What better compliment to receive on Valentine’s Day.

Good to know: Plants grow best in a warm spot with bright filtered light, but no direct sunshine, such as in north-facing living areas or bedrooms. The ideal indoor temperature is between 18C and 24C. Water when the soil feels moderately dry – once or twice a week in summer and less in winter.