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Through My Garden Gate: Heart-shaped leaves for Valentine's Day

Roger Boddaert


It's the season of romance, and St. Valentine's Day is a chance to give a long-lasting heart-shaped plant with a long eternal value from the green world to someone you care about.

This holiday has become a world of assorted chocolates, roses and greeting cards. With a living plant, you'll extend that feeling and give the one you care about a lasting thought every time they pass by it in the home or out in the garden.

Here are a few heart-shaped plants to consider and show the planet some green love for the oxygen plants give us daily:

· Heart-shaped philodendrons: this family is vast, comes from tropical jungles worldwide, and makes an ideal interior plant with minimum care. Philodendron cordatum has been around for ages and, in time, grows long strands with leaves and is excellent in a hanging basket or cascading from a shelf. It is easy to grow and a great starter plant in building your collection of house plants.

· Monstera deliciosa; It is also in the philodendron family but has the most giant leaves in the clan. A most striking and dramatic plant to behold and one of my favorites. It produces a large flower along the thick stem which will flower and fruit. This fruit is a culinary delight, and in fine eateries can be cooked in a cognac sauce and served as a dessert for those wanting a unique philodendron eating experience.

· Ceropegia woodii, known as the strings of hearts, is a small and delicate little plant, but the heart-shaped leaves make it intriguing and you will enjoy this house plant to add to your plant collection.

· Flowering cyclamen; if ever there was a plant with multiple values, it's this winter flowering bulb from Persia. The true heart-shaped leaves have an intriguing mottled-vein pattern, a charming plant that will flower from autumn until springtime, and a winner in my portfolio of plants. The flowers erupt from the center of the foliage like ballerinas on their tiptoes. The colors range from pink, white, red, and lilac and last for some time, high above the leaves. A botanical novelty is that the flower stems will curl and bend downwards to plant seeds into the ground when the flower cycle is complete.

· Anthuriums: if you want a twofer, here's a flowering plant with heart-shaped leaves and flowers and a fabulous indoor plant. The flower colors range from red, pink, white, purple, and multi colors. Anthuriums have been developed to become a great house plant to enjoy when in bloom and even as a green foliage plant. You can find these gems at florist shops and nurseries, which are becoming more popular at local grocery stores.

· Hoya vine: this twining plant has been a standard house plant for years. Due to their waxy succulent leaves, hoya plants are best in indirect light, don't require much watering and have a unique waxy flower cluster. I have a friend in northern Sweden who has grown a vining hoya in her apartment for decades. She has it in a pot near the window and, as it grows, has trained it along the walls securing it with pins from room to room, and it has become a lifelong plant friend and living botanical art.

· Begonia: this large family of plants has a wide selection of heart-shaped leaves with colorful foliage and various leaf patterns. They can make excellent interior plants in a bright sunny window.

· Ivy is grown outside in the landscape as a ground cover, with many types. But there is one type with perfect heart-shaped leaves that cascade and is excellent planted in a ceramic container sitting on a shelf in your library.

· Redbud tree: Cercis trees have beautiful heart shaped leaves that I call the love tree for its leaves. A dramatic spring-blooming tree, and it's drought-tolerant as well. We have a native Redbud in California and many cultivars, and it is a beautiful little flowering tree to consider for the right garden setting.

· Calla lily: This flowering plant out in the landscape enjoys dappled light to full sun. Its tall arrow shape to heart-shaped leaves are bold, and flowers are usually in springtime and easter.

· Bleeding Hearts is a bulbous plant with delicate foliage, and the flower stems are lined with tiny red and white hearts cascading downwards. A real charmer and its available in spring.

I hope this little collection of heart-shaped plants has given you alternative gift-giving ideas for Valentine's Day on Feb. 14.

Love and caring come in many forms and fashions in life, but giving living plants has long-lasting value and karma to enjoy over the years. Plants inside our homes are all about what they can provide us with through horticultural therapy for our body and soul.

Perhaps giving and planting a tree for someone might be the right thing to do to help cool the planet.

Roger Boddaert, landscape designer and certified arborist, can be reached at 760-728-4297 or [email protected].


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