Flower Grown in Space

A flower has bloomed in space for the first time ever, aboard the International Space Station. On Saturday, American astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted a photograph of a zinnia flower that had blossomed in the space laboratory. Kelly has been working there since March 2015 and has become the resident gardener on board.

This accomplishment brings space explorers a step closer to growing fresh produce in space during longer missions, which NASA hopes to do in 2018. In addition, the flowering experiment called “Veggie” will allow scientists to understand how plants grow in microgravity. Astronauts started experimenting with Veggie in 2014, when they attempted to grow red romaine lettuce in the same system in which the zinnia flower was grown.

Kelly, the space station’s commander, had good reason to crow. Just a few weeks earlier, the zinnias, which are part of the NASA plant growth experiment “Veggie,” had come close to dying due to a break out of mold. If it was not for a revised care plan by NASA botanists on the ground — and Kelly’s own “green thumb” on orbit — there may not have been any flowers to tweet about.
But in conveying his excitement, Kelly made a mistake. His newly-bloomed zinnias were not the first flowers grown in space.
Rooting through history
Four years ago, astronaut Don Pettit took it upon himself to grow a few different types of plants on board the station in what NASA labeled as a “personal biology experiment.” Lacking the sophisticated growth chamber that would later launch as part of the Veggie study, Pettit used plastic bags as his pots.
In addition to growing zucchini and broccoli sprouts, Pettit also successfully cultivated a sunflower to blossom — and beyond.
“Sunflower is going to seed!” Pettit wrote in his blog, “Diary of a Space Zucchini,” in June 2012. “His blossom is wilted-brown and has a few lopsided packed seeds. This is not quite normal, but then we are living on a frontier and things are different here.”
Ultimately NASA is hoping that astronauts can supplement their menus with freshly-grown greens, especially on future deep space missions to destinations beyond the Earth, like Mars. Growing plants also offer psychological benefits, and they can assist in atmosphere recycling.
“The farther and longer that humans go away from Earth, the greater the need to be able to grow plants,” said Gioia Massa, science lead for Veggie at NASA. “I think that plant systems will become important components of any long-duration exploration scenario.”
The zinnias, which are in fact edible (but were not eaten), were intended by NASA as a test run for growing tomato plants on the space station in 2017.By then, Kelly will be long back home on the Earth. He and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are set to complete a nearly yearlong stay on the station in March. As such, the zinnia flowers and previous lettuce offered more than sustenance for the stomach, but satisfaction for the mind.
This flowering crop experiment began on Nov. 16, 2015, when NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren activated the Veggie system and its rooting “pillows” containing zinnia seeds. The challenging process of growing the zinnias provided an exceptional opportunity for scientists back on Earth to better understand how plants grow in microgravity, and for astronauts to practice doing what they’ll be tasked with on a deep space mission: autonomous gardening. In late December, Kelly found that the plants “weren’t looking too good,” and told the ground team, “You know, I think if we’re going to Mars, and we were growing stuff, we would be responsible for deciding when the stuff needed water. Kind of like in my backyard, I look at it and say ‘Oh, maybe I should water the grass today.’ I think this is how this should be handled.”
Excess humidity in the flower garden soon led to mold growing on the leaves, and so a fan was brought in to help dry them out.
However, the fans worked a little too well and soon several of the plants showed signs of dehydration – and two of them eventually died off over the New Year.
The remaining plants continued to flourish, however, and by January 8 were showing signs of new growth and buds, which eventually turned into flowers.
The flowers appear very similar to those grown on earth, except for the curled edges of the petals, which could be down to the zero-gravity conditions.
Alexandra Whitmire, deputy element scientist for NASA’s Human Research Program, said: Plants can indeed enhance long duration missions in isolated, confined and extreme environments – environments that are artificial and deprived of nature.
Kelly, who took over garden duties after NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren returned to Earth on Dec. 18, cut away the affected, moldy plant tissue. The plant surfaces and plant pillow surfaces were sanitized with cleaning wipes, and the fans continued at a high speed in hopes of keeping the Veggie chamber dried out and mold growth abated.
By Christmas Eve, though, Kelly called down to say the high fan speed was drying out the crop too much. But the next scheduled watering was not until Dec. 27.
“I think that would be too late,” Kelly told the ground team. “You know, I think if we’re going to Mars, and we were growing stuff, we would be responsible for deciding when the stuff needed water. Kind of like in my backyard, I look at it and say ‘Oh, maybe I should water the grass today.’ I think this is how this should be handled.”
The team on the ground gave Kelly the green light to take on the role of autonomous gardener.
 “This is perfect – he has the helm,” Smith said. “We turned over care to Scott. He’s seen the lettuce, he’s got all the tools he needs, so we just provided him quick guidelines to understand the zinnias.”
Two of the plants that displayed stress died off but two remaining plants have continued to thrive with petals in January even beginning to sprout buds.
“Some of my space flowers are on the rebound! No longer looking sad!” Kelly tweeted on Jan. 8.
The flowers weren’t expected to bloom for another seven to 10 days. But it seems they couldn’t wait to add a little color to the space station.

Picking The Right Flowers

How to choose the right flowers for the right occasion

Picking out the right kind of flowers for different occasions can be quite a challenging task. What kind of flowers to get, or what color should they be or what form they should be in i.e. hand bunch or basket or vase etc. Many such factors must be taken into consideration before making a final choice of what bouquet to be sent. Some flowers and colors have different symbolisation and knowing these could be quite helpful in knowing what would be the right kind of bouquet to be sent.

Birthdays, being the most common occasion for sending flowers can have a wide variety of flowers to be sent. For a general birthday anything bright and cheerful in any form could be sent and would be well appreciated. For milestone birthdays such as 25 years or 50 years etc special colors like red and gold and silver can be added to the bouquets. Even number of flowers can signify the occasion for example a 60th birthday could have 60 roses of any color or maybe 59 of red color and 1 of white to symbolise the 60 years of life. Any flower goes for birthday. Be it roses, carnations, to lilies, orchids, calla lillies, hydrangea’s to name a few.

Anniversaries and Wedding bouquets are another occasion where flowers are sent and you can never go wrong with reds and pinks with a primary focus on roses which are a complete fail safe option. Avoid sending yellows or any such off beat color. Lilies can be a good option in this case as they have a very delicate feel and a very classy look that can enhance your bouquet.

New Borns are easy to send for. You can use pinks for girls and shades of whites and blues for a boy and can add balloons and stuffed toys of the said colors to give an additional celebration touch to the bouquet. Adding Chocolates to them could enhance the overall gift. Orchids, Roses, Carnations etc all go well with these. Adding some chrysanthemums to give a more fuller look can add more depth and beauty to your bouquet.

Funerals, Condolences whilst not a very celebratory occasion, one can send flowers to comfort the grieving ones and flowers such as pale yellows, whites etc are a good choice. Sending wreaths to a funeral home are one of the few options that many do opt for. Fragrant flowers are also an option such as tuberoses or oriental lilies which emit a soft fragrant that can fill up a room in no time.

Valentines Day or sending flowers to someone who you like, sends a strong message by sending red or pink flowers to the special someone. Gifts have their place but flowers speak a more direct language of love in this particular field. When you speak of love the only color that comes to mind is red and the only flower that comes to mind is rose. Red Roses adding with a touch of white gypsophila or white chrysanthemums can give a beautiful touch to the bouquet. Long Stemmed roses is a must in this matter.

Thank you flowers to thank someone for their help or assistance have to be a more personal touch. Knowing what the receiver would like helps convey a personal message and having a hand written card adds to character to the bouquet and passing on the message in a more personal tone. The bouquet need not be huge or exaggerated but something small but with classy flowers will certainly convey the message elegantly.

As such a few occasions have been highlighted and one can never go wrong with sending soothing and cheerful colors for any such occasion. Extreme contrasting colors are also a good choice but only for certain occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries or sending a congratulations message across.

Choosing the correct color combination is primary than to choosing the flower. Once you have a good color combination then the flower aspect becomes secondary and if you get both right then you have one beautiful bouquet that is sent across to your loved one.

I have highlighted some basic options for sending flowers and you can experiment with the bouquets and see for yourself what really defines your style and persona.

Do Dried Flowers Bring Bad Luck?

Do Dried Flowers bring Bad Luck?

Here we go…another silly myth incorrectly associated with Feng Shui…
Much has been written in Feng Shui literature associating dried plants with negative energy. Some of this information goes to the extreme by crediting dried plants as the potential source of all sorts of calamities. This of course is not true.
This myth is based on the concept that dried flowers and plants were once alive and are now dead. The thought is that if you display these “dead” items in your home they will attract negative energy.

Think about it…if this were true, you would have to get rid of all your wooden furniture or risk being surrounded by “dead” energy all the time.  Nonsense!

While dried flowers usually do not evoke the same feelings of vitality and energy that real plants do they are by no means the bearers of negative events and catastrophes. In fact, under certain circumstances dried plants can have very positive associations for people; for example when kept as mementos of weddings, proms, and other happy experiences. If you wish to display mementos of dried flowers, make sure to do so in such a way that they do not get too dusty or brittle as they may become an eyesore rather than reminders of a pleasant event.
If you are choosing dried flowers for décor purposes only, you may want to consider realistic silk alternatives.  Silk plants can be used to symbolize a healthy plant in an area that needs the look of foliage but for one reason or another cannot support a healthy living plant.
Silk plants are preferable to dried plants as they provide an image of vitality that the dried plants do not. In fact, some silk plants are so realistic looking that it is difficult to tell one apart from a living plant. This all being said, a silk plant is just a replica of a living plant and should only be used to improve the look and décor of a room. Silk plants cannot be used as a substitute for a real plant when an area needs to be activated by the Wood element.
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