NASA astronaut Scott Kelly presented the first flower grown in space! Several zinnia plant seeds were planted by the ISS crew late last year but unfortunately the experiment almost wound up as a failure as issues with high humidity and limited air flow resulted in mold and several dead plants.
However, thanks to Kelly's good care at least one of the plants was able to reach flowering stage.
Kelly took charge of the zinnias after that -- he even told NASA he'd decide when to water them instead of following a schedule. "...if we're going to Mars, and we were growing stuff, we would be responsible for deciding when the stuff needed water," he said. On December 27th, he tweeted a photo of the ailing organisms, saying he'd have to "channel his inner Mark Watney" to ensure their survival. While some of the plants ended up dying anyway, he ultimately succeeded nurturing at least one until it flowered.
The plant samples will be returned to Earth to study how different it is to grow plants in outer space. Previously, ISS astronauts have grown lettuce, and consumed the produce, but growing flowering plants like zinnias could prove to be a significant stepping stone for growing more complicated plants like tomatoes.