from Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici by Antonio Franchi

Plant of the Month: Peony

Peony's effectiveness as an ancient cure translated into a tool of statecraft in the eighteenth century.
Source: . Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, DC

Plant of the Month: Stanhopea Orchids

How did some orchids transform from rare, all-but-inaccessible flowers into popular houseplants you can purchase at a supermarket?
A chrysanthemum overlaid with the chemical formula for pyrethrins

What Do Pesticides and Chrysanthemums Have in Common?

They both contain insecticides called pyrethrins, used in ancient Persia. Today we use them in lice-killing shampoos.
Oscar Wilde with a green carnation

Four Flowering Plants That Have Been Decidedly Queered

The queer history of the pansy and other flowers.
Geranium

Why Victorian Gardeners Loathed Magenta

For decades, British and American gardeners avoided magenta flowers. The color had associations with the unnatural and the poisonous.

An 18th-Century “Sapphist”’s Sexy Garden

The 18th-century "sapphist" gardens of Mary Granville Pendarves Delany were piquant places that expressed same-sex desires.
Anza Borrego Desert State Park Wildflowers,CA

When the Desert Blooms

Following a winter of exceptional rain, Southern California's desert wildflowers have bloomed en masse. The event is dubbed a “super bloom.”
Poinsettia

What Poinsettias Have to do with U.S.-Mexico Relations

Poinsettias were named for the first US diplomat to Mexico. The flower was more successful than he was. How it went from Aztec dye to Christmas decoration.
red peony

Seven Favorite Flower Poems

Our editors pick flower poems from Poetry magazine, American Poetry Review, and the Kenyon Review.