Fed up with sending (or receiving) stale, overpriced roses for Valentine’s Day? What other plant might convey the right sentiment but with more originality and commendable thrift?

The florist’s cyclamen is a potted plant that offers its own charm and message of love. The flowers are like dancing sprites above the mound of foliage. The leaves have attractive markings and are described by botanists as “cordate,” which means heart shaped. What better symbol for the day?

There are hundreds of varieties, some with outrageously large blooms. The daintier varieties are sweeter, to my eye. Even ill treated, the plant will last as long as a bouquet of roses, but given some care, the cyclamen can bloom for weeks. Place it in a bright and cool room and water it when it begins to dry out. This is best done by standing the pot in three inches of water for 10 minutes and then letting it drain. Snip off the fading leaves and flower stalks and give it a light feed every two weeks. Hard to grow year round, most people toss the plant after flowering (best done with the donor absent). Buy healthy looking plants from a store that knows how to handle its floral stock. We paid $7.99 for this little beauty at Johnson’s in Northwest Washington.


Low-key Valentine’s Day 

D.C.’s most romantic places

Ten awesome Valentine’s Day dates for under $20