As Mother’s Day quickly approaches, you can make mom feel special in any number of ways: Some of your options include fixing her breakfast, taking her out for dinner and/or buying her flowers or a plant.
Mother’s Day is May 8, and flora make for some of the most popular gifts sons and daughters can give their moms, say University of Florida experts.
In addition, UF/IFAS scientists actually breed some of them, including highly sought ornamental plants. Indeed, Florida is the sole source of caladium bulbs for the entire world, satisfying the needs of growers and consumers – and a UF/IFAS plant breeder specializes in this variety.
“Plants, especially ornamentals, give mom a gift that she can enjoy year after year and can even contribute to a new hobby for the whole family,” said Joanna Courtemanche, a family and consumer sciences agent with UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County.
In fact, says Courtemanche, by giving mom a plant, something that was once a gift can turn in to a family ritual by allowing mothers to teach children about plants and how to care for them.
“Mothers can use gardening as a family bonding activity to form stronger attachments within human and child development,” she said. “Gardening and/or just having house plants can even contribute to a variety of emotional benefits such as improving moods, lowering blood pressure and even improving cognitive function. What mom doesn’t need some stress-relief activities?”
If you’re thinking of giving mom a plant, many varieties can give that windowsill the look you want, and many plants emit that effervescent aroma that gives your home a spring aura. You might consider a coleus, caladium or petunia. And if you choose any of those, you could wind up purchasing a variety developed by any of 27 University of Florida plant breeders.
UF/IFAS researchers in the environmental horticulture department are constantly seeking to improve the aesthetics, scent and maintenance of plants. Among the rock-star UF/IFAS scientists who grow and/or breed ornamental plants are:
- David Clark, a professor at the main UF campus in Gainesville, who’s known for his coleus cultivars.
- Zhanao Deng, a professor at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center. Deng is known to breed caladiums, gerbera and lantana.
“Coleus plants make good Mother’s Day gifts because they are available in a wide variety of colors, patterns and shapes at any garden center, they’re inexpensive and easy to grow,” Clark said. “This is the perfect time of year to plant it in the garden or in a pot on the patio.”
UF/IFAS coleus varieties have been selected to thrive under Florida’s tough (hot, humid) conditions to make sure gardeners around the world succeed whenever they plant one, he said.
“Florida has been the only source for caladium bulbs in the world, satisfying the needs of greenhouse growers, nurseries, landscapers and consumers in the Sunshine State, around the nation and globally,” Deng said. “Consumers are always looking for pretty plants that are easy to grow and care for and can do well and last long. Caladiums meet these requirements, and they thrive in Florida.”
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.
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