Flowers are one of nature’s greatest gifts. They excite our senses with beautiful, colorful blooms and sweet fragrant smells. We love to grow them in our gardens, use them to accent our homes and windows next to our bottom up blinds, or just enjoy them in their natural habitats. Flowers speak a universal language and add beauty to our lives in many ways.
Beautiful flowers bloom around the world, but some have historic roots in specific countries that have helped to preserve and protect their beauty. Here are five spectacular blooms with world-wide appeal.
History: The tulip, native to Central and Western Asia, was transported to Turkey by nomadic tribes in the 16th century where it was first commercially cultivated. It became a prestigious symbol of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. It was later transported to the Netherlands by a famous Austrian biologist CarolusClusius. Today, Holland is the largest producer of tulips and exports more than three billion tulip bulbs each year.
- 120 species of wild tulips and 2,300 registered named tulip varieties
- Perennial plants grown from bulbs
- Prefer full sun or partial shade in warm climates with well-drained soil
- Plant in the fall for early or late spring blooms
History: The rose is believed to have originated in China over 5,000 years ago. During the Roman Empire, rose gardens were established by nobility in Rome. Roses later transitioned to England during the 15th century. In the 18th century, cultivated roses were imported to Europe, then to the United States. Although most people associate the rose with England and English rose gardens, the Netherlands is the largest importer.
- Over 100 species, including erect, climbing and trailing varieties
- Perennial plants grown from seeds or cuttings
- Prefer sun and well-drained soil
- Plant November through February for seasonal spring blooms
History: The sunflower is believed to have originated in the Southeastern United States, however there is scientific evidence that it originated in Mexico. The Aztecs used the symbol of the sunflower as their sun god. The Aztecs and Native Americans grew sunflowers for food. The botanical name, Helianthos, is a Greek word. Helios means sun and anthos means flower. In 1903, Kansas claimed the sunflower as its official state flower.
- Over 67 different species of cultivated sunflowers
- Perennial plants grown from seeds
- Prefer a sunny location with slightly moist soil but will tolerate dry infertile soil
- Plant in late spring for summer or early fall blooms
History: The primrose is native to southern and western Europe and cool areas within the northern hemisphere such as the Alps, Himalayas and China. It grows wild in many mountainous and wooded areas with shaded landscapes. Japan produces the Japanese primrose, however England is most often associated as the country of origin due to the popularity of the English primrose. The UK Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 makes it illegal to pick wild primroses in England.
- Over 500 species exist around the world
- Perennial plants grown from seeds
- Prefer filtered sun or partial shade with moist, slightly acidic soil
- Plant small potted plants or seeds in early spring for spring and summer blooms
History: The iris originated in ancient Egypt and India where the flower became a symbol of life for these cultures. The Egyptians thought that the three petals of the iris stood for wisdom, faith and valor. The iris was laid upon many burial sites, altars and temples of the pharaohs who believed the flower would protect them and give them power and authority in the next life. Later in history, the iris (fleur-de-lis) became an emblem for French monarchs on military uniforms, armor, shields and flags. This emblem carried over to tapestries, textiles, rugs and family crests for millions of French people.
- Over 300 species, many are natural hybrids
- Perennial plants grown from rhizomes or bulbs
- Prefer full sun and well-drained soil
- Plant in the fall for spring blooms