What gift is more traditional on Valentine's Day than a bouquet of red roses?
Red roses represent respect and a creative spirit. They symbolize romantic love and enduring passion. But as beautiful as they are, cut flowers have a short life. Within days, they begin to fade until the blooms eventually wilt on the stem and are tossed away.
If only there were a way to make the gift of red roses last forever…
There is. Plant a rosebush!
Of the many roses to choose from, one stands out. Rosa "Louis Philippe" has just about everything one would want in a rose. It is a prolific bearer of medium-sized deep-red blooms that have a wonderful fragrance. It naturally resists diseases and pest problems that bother many other more delicate cultivars, requires minimal care and no herbicides, and is a hardy specimen that has been around for a long time.
In Florida, where it has adorned landscapes since the late 1800s, Rosa "Louis Philippe" has many names. It is known as "Florida rose," "antique china rose," "Florida cracker rose" or simply "cracker rose." But no matter what name it goes by, this aromatic beauty is sure to supply an abundance of deep-red blooms throughout most of the year.
On our property, we have several Louis Philippe plants, and each one boasts a multitude of blooms. We have Louis Philippe roses abutting our parking area, near the entry and surrounding our compost pile, where the sweet scent of roses helps displace the less pleasant odor of decomposing food matter. All of our plants came from cuttings of the original rose purchased more than 20 years ago. Louis Philippe is easy to propagate by cuttings.
Although we established most of our young plants in areas that receive irrigation and soil enhancements, we have one plant that receives no such attention. When my son Tim stuck a rooted cutting across the lake under a pine tree, I was dubious. The only water that location receives comes from rainfall, the spot gets little sun because of the pine canopy, and it receives no attention from us because it is so far from our house.
However, not only did the young rose survive — it thrived! The plant is spectacular. Lush with foliage and flush with blooms, it's doing better there with less attention than the more carefully planted and irrigated specimens closer to our home. Across the lake where it is left alone, the rose can do what it does best — grow dozens of ruby-red, beautiful, fragrant roses.
Louis Philippe is a bush rose that likes to spread out, but it can also be pruned or shaped to fit a snug spot. No matter where it is planted or what form it ultimately takes, Louis Philippe will produce year-round supply of lovely flowers.
If you're searching for a Valentine's Day gift that speaks volumes, consider adding a Rosa "Louis Philippe" to your landscape. If a single red rose says "I love you," and a bouquet of blooms means "enduring passion," what could an entire bush filled with red flowering fragrance possibly say?
To me, it says you care enough to grow together. It symbolizes the desire to create beauty out of briars and to thrive even when times are tough. It's a message of commitment and long-lasting love.
Can one plant really do that much? Try it and see.
Sherry Boas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her columns can be found at OrlandoSentinel.com/lake.