by Yvonne Hanson
Cut flowers make a beautiful centrepiece, but a terrible metaphor for romantic love. For many couples, Valentines Day is an opportunity to celebrate the success and endurance of a romantic relationship. Cut flowers may be classic, but if you’re aiming to give your partner symbol of your affection for them, there are better choices than something that will wither and die before the month is out. A strong relationship starts strong and stays strong with just a little love and care, unlike cut flowers which boast an unsustainable beauty that quickly fades regardless of how well-cared-for they may be.
To symbolize the ease and endurance of your relationship, forget flowers and give your partner the gift of succulents. These tiny, cactus-like plants are natural desert dwellers. They store moisture in their thick, fleshy stems and leaves, allowing them to go weeks - and even months - without water. These are the perfect plants for people who have no time to spend caring for plants.
Succulents can be planted together in densely-packed, brightly coloured arrangements. They look great in terrariums, dish gardens, mason jars, and terra-cotta pots. They won’t drop leaves or petals all over your kitchen table like cut flowers would, they won’t poison your pets like lilies or chocolate, and they won’t trigger allergic reactions for your seasonally-sensitive house guests.
Succulents have been getting trendier and trendier in recent years, which has created a market for the dozens of new styles and varieties being crafted by the avid community of succulent hybridizers. You can get varieties of the traditionally-green aloe vera (which is great for treating burns) in pink, red, white, and with a variety of different stripes, spikes, and growth habits.
Echeveria, which boast symmetrical rosettes of colourful leaves, can be found in literally every colour of the rainbow and a variety of different hues.
Add some texture-interest to a succulent arrangement by planting a few strands of ‘string of pearls’ or ‘string of bananas’ which are long, green, vine-like succulents that grow little ball-shaped leaves and trail beautifully over the side of a hanging pot or over a windowsill.
Another great texture-booster is “burro’s tail” sedum, which grows like a short vine covered in thick, juicy green leaves.
For serial plant-murderers, try a small collection of ‘Lithops’. These little succulents look like brightly coloured stones (aptly named ‘living stones’) and die if they are watered more than once every few months.
Brightly coloured and diverse, succulents easy to find in any plant store or garden centre, require minimal attention, and will live indefinitely with proper care. Multiple species and varieties can grow harmoniously together in the same small dish, making them the perfect plant for a little mix-and-match arrangement.
For a unique, long-lasting gesture this Valentine’s Day, forget flowers and give your partner the gift of succulents.