Valentine’s Day is coming up and you know what that means. It’s time to break into your 401k plan so that you can surprise your sweetheart with a dozen roses and a box of chocolates. Okay, yes, we’re joking (kind of), but at about $50 for a dozen, cut roses are expensive and they only last a short while. Why not invest that money--plus a little of your time--into something that will provide your partner with flowers year round?
When planted in pots or grow bags, flowers can be grown indoors or in greenhouses. Grow bags have several advantages. When filled with a commercial potting mix, they yield fewer weeds and require fewer amendments than garden soil. Because the commercial potting mix is light and doesn’t get compacted, the plant roots have plenty of room to grow with ease, and in a large container like a grow bag, the plants won’t become pot-bound. Large, well-developed roots are critical to supporting larger, more productive plants. Grow bags also offer excellent drainage and aeration, thanks to the loose soil and the porous nature of the bags.
To wow your valentine with a gift that will keep giving for months, why not plant flowers in a grow bag. Just make sure to choose your seeds with care, particularly if the plants will stay in your house (as opposed to a greenhouse). Some flowers need several hours of direct sunlight in order to flourish and bloom. That can be difficult to provide in the depths of winter. Unless you’re willing to supplement natural light with a grow light, choose flowers that have moderate light needs. Petunias and geraniums, for instance, only need about six hours of direct sunlight daily.
All you need for this project are seeds, potting soil, and a grow bag or two. It’s important to assemble this project before gifting it. If you expect your valentine to do the work, trust us, you will end up in the doghouse. That said, it’s fairly easy to do. Just don’t leave it to the last minute, as you need to factor in growing time.
Start by filling the cells in a seed tray with potting soil, and plant the seeds according to the directions on the package. The seed package will also explain optimal conditions for germination and give an estimate of how long it will take for the seeds to sprout. Newly sprouted seedlings have two leaves - called cotyledons. These leaves look different from the “true leaves” that plants produce after the cotyledons emerge. Once the seedlings have at least three to four true leaves, they can be transplanted into--you guessed--a grow bag. Once this step in done, it’s safe to slap a ribbon on that grow bag and sign your card. And, oh yeah, don’t forget the chocolates. Note: I like the ones with salted caramel centers.