Lilacs are one of the most popular flowers in the garden. They have a very long history and they have been used since ancient times for their beautiful colors and fragrances. However, it was not until the early 1900’s when these colorful flowers were introduced into the United States that they became widely appreciated as ornamental plants. These days, many people enjoy growing them for their gorgeous blooms and their unique fragrance.
The flower buds of lilacs are called petals. Lilac flowers have five sepals (the first two pairs of leaves) and four stamens (the last pair of leaves). Each individual flower bud contains up to 100 tiny white blossoms. The color of the petal varies depending upon which variety of lilac it is, but all lilacs have pink or purple petals.
Lilacs produce a single flower per year, although some varieties may bloom twice in one season.
Lilacs are native to Europe and Asia Minor. There are several species of lilac with different characteristics, including the “true” lilacs, which include the common lilac (Aurantia spp.), the European lily (Eriogonum multiflorum), and the American lilac (Helianthus annuus). There are also the Himalayan hybrids (Syringa) which are commonly grown as ornamental plants.
The color of a true lilac’s flowers depends upon the soil conditions. Lilacs with pink flowers grow in acidic soil, while those with purple or white flowers grow in basic (alkaline) soil. Lilacs that have red or reddish-brown woody stems contain toxic substances and should not be eaten by livestock.
It is not necessary to remove the dead flowers from the plant because buds for next year are already in place on the branches. If you want to encourage your plant to bloom heavily, you should cut the stem tips off when the plant is 6 inches high. This will prevent the plant from putting its energy into producing leaves and will cause it to direct its energy towards producing flowers instead.
Lilacs do best in full sun or partial shade. They prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5 and 7. The plant does not need much fertilizer, but it will produce more blooms if you apply a slow-release general-purpose fertilizer in the early spring, just before new growth begins.
Most lilacs are easy to grow and rarely suffer from diseases or pests. They do best in areas that do not have freezing winters.
Lilac flowers are edible and have a light sweet taste. The flowers are most attractive just before they bloom. Once they have opened, the flowers spoil quickly and should be picked. Lilac flowers may be used to flavor desserts, drinks, and other foods.
They may also be dried to produce lilac sugar, which is used for flavoring cakes and cookies.
Lilacs cut from their original stems will soon wilt and die. They should be placed in a container of water as soon as they are picked.
Picking only the opening flowers will keep the plant blooming for several weeks.
Some gardeners keep bees on their lilac plants to ensure heavy pollination.
The leaves can be brewed into a health tea that is said to help soothe coughs, colds, and bronchitis. The tea can also be used as an astringent lotion for minor skin irritations.
Recent medical studies have shown that a compound found in most species of lilac can delay the growth of certain kinds of cancer cells.
Lilac wood is often used in the crafting of fine furniture. The wood is also suitable for carving.
The name “lilac” comes from the word “lily” because the plant has long, narrow, scale-like leaves.
(Information taken from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilac)
The scented geranium (Pelargonium spp.) is a genus of about 400 species of flowering perennial plants. They are usually grown as annuals and common as potted plants, and they have a wide variety of uses. These plants are native to southern Africa.
They are also known as zonal or garden geraniums. They can also be known as cranesbills, pigmy geraniums, and stinking geraniums.
These plants grow from a tuberous rootstock and have long, erect stems that are angular and multibranched. Their flowers have five petals, are colored red, pink, white, or purple, and sometimes have a colorful “eye.” They often have a strong fragrance. The petals are arranged in a flared, umbrella-like fashion.
The flowers bloom in the late spring and throughout the summer.
The leaves are opposite, broadly wedge-shaped, and pointed at the tip. They also have distinctive reticulated veins. The leaves are usually hairy.
These plants are very common and can be propagated by seed (which often take a long time to germinate), by division, or by cuttings. The seeds should be soaked in water for 24 hours before planting. They can be grown indoors or out.
In many areas, these plants are considered invasive and are classified as noxious weeds. For example, in Western Australia they are considered to be among the top 17 most invasive plant species.
These plants contain a compound called pelargonic acid, which is chemically similar to psychedelic phenethylamines such as 2C-B and 2C-I. Because of this, these plants have been used as herbal substitutes for illegal drugs.
(Information taken from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelargonium)
Tuberoses (Polianthes spp.) are a genus of 15 species of flowers belonging to the amaryllis family. They are also known as spider flowers, and their scent is often compared to that of the white flower called the narcissus.
These plants originated in South America and are now common in East Africa, Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, and the Mediterranean region. They have also become naturalized in other places around the world. They are most commonly grown as ornamental plants for their flowers.
These plants prefer dry soil and bright sunlight. They are not fussy about soil type, but they do need good drainage.
These plants are vulnerable to a fungal disease called Anthracnose, which turns the leaves black and causes the formation of fluffy spores on their surface. The spores then spread and infect other nearby plants. It can also infect many other kinds of plants, including tomatoes, peppers, roses, and potatoes.
The bulb of these plants is used in traditional medicines as a cure for ulcers. It is also used to treat conditions of the skin and eyes.
In Chinese, the word for these plants, maiya, sounds like “remain chaste,” and the flowers are considered a symbol of purity because their scent is so powerful that it renders people temporarily sterile. In the past, they were carried by brides and worn in hair to ensure their chastity on their wedding nights.
In Chinese culture, these flowers have also traditionally been used in funeral ceremonies.
The bulbs and flowers of these plants are edible. They have a taste that is mildly sweet, slightly bitter, and has a soapy texture. The bulbs can be boiled, baked, and fried. They can also be made into wine.
The flowers can be eaten raw, boiled, fried, or added to salads. In Korea, these flowers and bulbs are stuffed with meat and rice to make a spicy dish called ssanghwa muchim.
The juice of these flowers can be used as a fabric dye, and in tanning. It produces a light brown color.
These plants have been cultivated since ancient times for their ornamental value. They were first grown in the Mediterranean region, where they are still grown today, primarily in Sardinia.
In the past, the bulbs of these plants were ground up and used it to make a flour substitute.
Sources & references used in this article:
Germination of Nonstratified Japanese Tree Lilac Seeds as Influenced by Seed Capsule Maturity and Moisture Content by TP West, SL DeMarais, CW Lee – HortTechnology, 2014 – journals.ashs.org
Seed source and quality influence germination in purple coneflower [Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench.] by N Wartidiningsih, RL Geneve – HortScience, 1994 – journals.ashs.org
Purple seed stain of soybeans by KW Roy, TS Abney – Phytopathology, 1976 – apsnet.org
Ethephon can overcome seed dormancy and improve seed germination in purple coneflower species Echinacea angustifolia and E. pallida by AO Sari, MR Morales, JE Simon – HortTechnology, 2001 – journals.ashs.org
Purple moonflower: emergence, growth, reproduction by JM Chandler, RL Munson, CE Vaughan – Weed Science, 1977 – JSTOR
Osmotic priming or chilling stratification improves seed germination of purple coneflower by N Wartidiningsih, RL Geneve, ST Kester – HortScience, 1994 – journals.ashs.org