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Connecticut Garden Journal: Grow these St. Patrick's Day plants and skip the green carnations

Bells of Ireland bask in late afternoon sun bathing garden.
Photo credit John Dreyer/Getty Images
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Bells of Ireland likes cool weather, self sows, is a great cut flower and would be appreciated all summer long.

With St. Patrick's Day coming up soon, many people will be touting green clothes, green hats and drinking green beer. Those traditions are fun but, as a horticulturist, the one tradition I don't enjoy are the green carnations. I generally love all flowers, but a white carnation dyed in green just doesn't cut it for me. If you want to give a flower for St. Patty's Day, I have some better options.

The shamrock is the symbolic flower of St Patrick's Day. The original Irish shamrock is thought to have been a clover. It's not the best gift plant. Luckily, florist shops and garden centers are filled with oxalis this time of year. Oxalis grows from a small bulb and has stems with three leaflet leaves and a dainty little flower. There are green varieties, purple varieties and even one called 'Iron Cross' with a red center edged in green. Oxalis can be grown as a houseplant now, and used later in your outdoor container or garden. If oxalis gets leggy or insect-infested simply cutback all the foliage to the soil and it will regrow.

Mini roses are a great gift, especially ones with yellow or white flowers. They contrast beautifully with all the green around. Select varieties that stay only 1- to 2-feet tall and grow them as houseplants now and outdoor plants for years.

Perhaps a true Irish gardener would love some seeds of Bells of Ireland. This annual flower grows stalks with green blooms in summer. Bells of Ireland likes cool weather, self sows, is a great cut flower and would be appreciated all summer long.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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