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Growing Flowers in a Stormy Economy

A question from China about floriculture in the U.S. Transcript of radio broadcast:/

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

We have a question from a Chinese student who is interested in floriculture. Wang Yue wants to know what kinds of flowers Americans like to plant in their gardens.

Some of the most popular bedding flowers are chrysanthemums, impatiens and petunias. Bedding plants are usually started in greenhouses. People buy them in containers and replant them.

Roses are also popular in American gardens. So are tulips, a welcome sign of spring. At the Chicago Botanic Garden in Illinois, workers plant twenty-nine thousand tulip bulbs every fall. The workers move in a long line as they plant row after row of tulips.

Kris Jarantoski is the director of the Chicago Botanic Garden. He says a flowering plant called agastache is also popular in gardens. Hummingbirds love it. Salvia is another popular flower that attracts hummingbirds.

Kris Jarantoski says people also choose flowers such as the spiderflower for its ability to reseed. Another quality that people often look for is the ability to resist dry periods. Lantana is an example of a popular drought-resistant plant.

Where people live can limit the choices for their gardens. The United States is a huge country with all kinds of weather conditions, from desert heat to arctic cold. But something else can also limit people's choices: a stormy economy.

In a recession, people often "trade down." They buy a lower-priced version of a product to save money. Home gardeners are no different. Alberto Jerardo at the Agriculture Department says people still want flowers even if they do not have much to spend. To save money, they may buy small bedding plants instead of more costly plants or trees.

The Agriculture Department says growers in California led the nation in the value of floriculture products in two thousand seven, the latest year available. The wholesale value was one billion dollars. Florida was close behind. The leading states for bedding and garden plants are California, Michigan, Texas, North Carolina and Ohio.

But any American growers or home gardeners hoping for an early spring this year just got some bad news. Monday was Groundhog Day and it seems that the famous animal in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow. Tradition says that if a groundhog sees its shadow, that means people can expect six more weeks of winter weather.

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Faith Lapidus.