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Ask the florist: common questions we get from customers

This shows a florist reviewing notes while standing at a table adorned with roses, tulips and ribbon.
If you have a question about flowers, don’t hesitate to contact your local store.

Besides providing the freshest, most beautiful product we can, Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts prides itself on delivering top-notch customer service before and after a sale.

We’re always happy to discuss a specific situation, but here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive from customers.

Q: I’ve heard of homemade flower foods, including mixing Sprite with aspirin or placing a penny in the bottom of a vase. Do these options work as well as your flower packets do in prolonging flower freshness?

A: No, our flower food is formulated with ingredients to help lower the pH levels, antimicrobials to help prevent stem rot, and sugar to provide energy for buds to open. Home remedies won’t achieve those ends.  

Q: Is this item appropriate for this occasion?

A: We answer this question with questions of our own. For instance, will a recipient be home enough or attentive enough to care for a plant, or would fresh flowers be a better option requiring less of a commitment?

Funerals prompt many special requests, such as adding pictures or personal items to a funeral arrangement. We help families decide the best way to honor their loved one.

Q: What is wrong with my plant?

A:  Most of the time there is an issue with either too much or not enough water. Other times the cause is with bugs or disease. We usually can figure it out with the help of a picture.

Q: Do you carry blue or black roses?

A:  Unfortunately, neither grows naturally. Right now, we offer a blue rose that has been died and dried. We don’t recommend using floral spray to achieve those colors because the spray can shorten the vase life of the rose. We typically suggest complementing the rose with babies breath that has been sprayed blue or black or adding an accent ribbon in the desired color.

Q: What do the flowers (especially roses) mean?

A: A red rose symbolizes love; a yellow rose is for happiness/friendship; a pink rose is for admiration; a white rose represents peace, sympathy and hope. (You’ll find more on flower meanings here.)

Of course, if you have a concern not addressed here, please don’t hesitate to contact your local store. We’re always  here to help you. 

You’re going to fall in love with this year’s rose sale

This is a photo of red roses.

Roses are most associated with Valentine’s Day in February, but June is National Rose Month.

In June, roses are in bloom, popular at weddings and a symbol of beauty and passion as spring gives way to summer.

They’re also a great value as evidenced by Connells Maple Lee’s annual rose sale, which runs May 22 through June 15 in our stores and online.

Natural growing cycle

Roses are available year-round, but they’re a particularly good value in June thanks to their natural growing cycle.

A rose farm typically harvests its crop every six to eight weeks, or about the amount of time between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day in May. But while there’s another big crop of roses in late spring, there is not a corresponding holiday to absorb all of them.

The sale

That leaves a thorny situation in which supply outstrips demand, making roses more affordable for florists and, by extension, our customers.

Our sale comprises:

  • One-dozen rose bunch for $9.42 (in-store only)
  • A Rosie arrangement featuring one-dozen or two-dozen colored roses for $46.99 or $56.99, respectively
  • A Rose Delight arrangement with four-dozen colored roses for $99.99, or $15 off the regular price.
  • Three-dozen arranged long-stemmed red roses for $149.00, or $20 off.

Whether you’re giving them as a gift to someone else or showing yourself a little love, roses are ready and at an even better value through June 15.

Flowers have always been at the center of Memorial Day

What we call Memorial Day originally was known as Decoration Day, and it may have begun in Boalsburg, Pa., near Penn State University.

Boalsburg calls itself the birthplace of Memorial Day, claiming that the custom of decorating soldiers’ graves began there in October 1864.

While the New York Times noted that several places make similar claims, what’s not in dispute is the central role that flowers have played throughout the history of Memorial Day.

In Boalsburg, three women – Emma Hunter, Sophie Keller and Elizabeth Myers – were said to have placed flowers and wreaths on the graves of men who died while serving the Union during the Civil War.

“The holiday grew out of the Civil War,” the Times wrote in 2023, “as Americans – Northern, Southern, Black and white – struggled to honor the staggering number of dead soldiers, at least 2 percent of the U.S. population at the time.”

The war ended in spring 1865. Soon after, in Charleston, S.C., at a service to commemorate the lives of Union captives buried in a mass grave, 3,000 schoolchildren led the way carrying roses. In 1866 in Columbus, Miss., women placed flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers.

The first national commemoration was in 1868, when Gen. John Logan, the commander in chief of an organization of Union veterans, called for May 30 to be “designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country.”

National Poppy Day

Red poppies became associated with Memorial Day by way of World War I, specifically the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written by Canadian physician, writer and soldier John McCrae. He noticed poppies growing among the graves of soldiers buried in Belgium.

“In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,” he wrote, “Between the crosses row on row.”

The American Legion adopted the poppy as its official flower in 1920 and began distributing fabric poppies nationally in 1924. At the American Legion’s urging, Congress designated the Friday before Memorial Day as National Poppy Day.

After World War II, the holiday became better known as Memorial Day and officially in 1967. Memorial Day was observed on May 30 until 1971, when it was enshrined as the last Monday of May to ensure a three-day weekend.

While officially meant to honor the service and sacrifice of America’s fallen soldiers, Memorial Day has assumed broader meaning for some, who use the occasion to pay tribute to family and friends who have died.

One constant remains: flowers.

Flowers of Remembrance Day

Perhaps no greater example exists than Arlington National Cemetery, where the nonprofit Memorial Day Flowers Foundation has placed flowers on graves since 2011. That first year, the organization had enough money to buy flowers for 10,000 of some 300,000 headstones.

In 2023, the foundation announced that it could afford flowers for only half of the graves. But last-minute donations and help from the floral industry, according to Stars and Stripes, likely ensuring a flower for each grave.

“We are so grateful to the American public and the generosity of our floral importers, who are literally donating thousands of flowers by the pallet, to ensure our fallen military heroes are honored this year,” said Ramiro Penaherrera, executive director of the foundation.

Thousands of volunteers place the flowers on the Arlington graves on Flowers of Remembrance Day, the Sunday before Memorial Day.

We celebrate ‘Mom’ every day at Connells Maple Lee

Hannah “Mom” Royer and husband, Lester, the founders of Connells Maple Lee’s sister company in Pennsylvania.

Her friends called her “Hanny” or “Beckie” back in 1922 when Hannah Sherman of Myerstown, Lebanon County, was a senior at Elizabethtown College near Lancaster, Pa.

Born in 1901, Hannah was a member of the college’s Homerian Literary Society, participated in chorus and glee club, played tennis and baseball.

“What can be more pleasing than a young lady who is virtuous and adorned with womanly graces?” read the text beneath her senior photo in the Etonian yearbook. “She is always pleasant and scatters sunshine wherever she goes.”

Hannah was pursuing a two-year “pedagogical course” to become a teacher at a time when mandatory school attendance laws were driving demand for educators and providing a new career opportunity for women.

‘She will bring joy’

“We predict for her a successful future, for we know that her whole heart will be in her work, whatever it may be,” the yearbook concluded, “and she will bring joy into the lives of the friends she meets.”

Hannah would become a first-grade teacher, marry classmate Lester Royer of Black Rock, Md., and raise a family. She would assume a new nickname, “Mom,” and prove the Etonian remarkably prescient.

But teaching wasn’t her true calling. Hannah, whose remarkable life would see her to age 96, would put her whole heart into the floral business. Her enduring legacy is Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts and sister company Royer’s Flowers & Gifts in Pennsylvania, which together constitute one of the most successful flower shops in American history.

Hannah and Lester, a high school biology teacher, married in 1925 and had their first child in 1929, the year of the stock market crash and the start of the Great Depression. By 1937, they had three children and were living on Lester’s salary alone.

Both Hannah and Lester, known as “Pop,” had grown up on farms. At their Lebanon home, they grew enough produce to help feed their family and sell some to neighbors for additional income.

Their son Ken, in his book “Retailing Flowers Profitably,” said Hannah “expanded our crop selection to include African violets, which she grew on her windowsills.

“The violets were sold at first by our next-door neighbor, who worked in a garment factory in Lebanon … . The addition of violets made our business a year-round enterprise rather than a summer-only produce business.”

Patient and persistent

Ken, who would follow his parents into the family floral business, noted that his mother started selling flowers at local farmers markets, refusing to let the initially tepid response wilt her will. Hannah, whom Ken described as patient and persistent, kept going back until business picked up.

“I have often reflected on this sequence and decided that my mother’s decision to go back after that first dismal experience was probably the most important event in the development of the business we now enjoy,” Ken wrote.

By 1945, having fielded requests for cut flowers, Mom Royer concluded that she needed training in floral arranging. Off she went to a two-week course in Gloucester, Mass.

Upon her return, the family converted the two-car garage behind its house into the South Side Flower Shop. The store operated from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, but after-hours customers could summon Hannah with a bell that rang in the family home.

Lester ultimately would join the business full-time, operating the greenhouses while Hannah ran the retail store.

Lester was a lay minister in their church, which Ken said was “always his first love. Business was not a source of inspiration or an emotional stimulation to him. Mom was the driving force behind the business.”

Hannah and Lester sold the business, renamed Royer’s Flowers, to their sons Ken and Glenn in the 1950s. With three stores in the Columbus area and 16 stores in south-central and eastern Pennsylvania, the business remains under family ownership.

Ken’s sons Greg, who is chairman, and Tom, president and CEO, represent the third generation. They were later joined by Greg’s sons Andrew and Geoff, who serve as vice presidents. More of the fourth generation is waiting in the wings as cousins Tommy Royer and Evan Royer are pursuing business degrees in college with plans of joining the family business.

To put that into perspective, according to the Conway Center for Family Business in Columbus, only 3 percent of family businesses operate at the fourth-generation level and beyond.

Mother’s Day comes but once a year, but every day that Connells Maple Lee and Royer’s operate is a celebration of the legacy of Hannah “Mom” Royer.

Prom prep: we’ll help with corsages, boutonnieres and hand-held bouquets for the spring formal

Every spring, hundreds of thousands of high school students take college admission exams.

Many of the juniors and seniors also will partake of another rite of passage, one that’s a lot more fun than hours of testing: prom.

But will selecting prom flowers be:

  1. Stressful
  2. Confusing
  3. Costly
  4. None of the above

You can color in the oval next to D if you work with Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts. We draw upon decades of helping high school students with prom prep. It’s quite possible that your parents or even your grandparents shopped for prom flowers with us when they were in school.

Whether you are attending prom with your significant other or with friends, flowers remain an integral part of the experience. We’re here to help you raise your flower-selection score. 

Prom primer

Prom is short for promenade, which describes a leisurely walk or a place for walking but also movements in ballet and ballroom dancing, according to USA Today.

Proms were modeled after debutante balls in high society, with the first ones traced to colleges and universities in the Northeast in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They were formal events meant to teach etiquette and manners and featured waltzes and other formal dances.

By the 1930s, according to history.com, proms had reached high schools and began to look more like the events we know today. Amy Best, in her book, “Prom Night: Youth, Schools and Popular Culture,” said they became “a democratized version of the debutante ball.” 

It gave anyone attending high school the sense that they, too, were making a formal entrance into society, “that they could transcend the boundaries of class,” Best wrote. “The message was that you did not have to be rich to wear a fancy frock, to be adorned with a corsage, or to waltz the night away.”

At Connells Maple Lee, we emphasize the specialness of prom and how flowers honor the people wearing them. We offer a wide selection of flowers, work with all budgets and are eager to discuss your specific needs.  

Meanwhile, here are some things to keep in mind:

Corsages and boutonnieres

These are the traditional prom favorites. Women typically wear a corsage, which is taken from the French “bouquet de corsage,” or flowers pinned to the upper part of the body. As spaghetti straps and strapless dresses become popular, the corsage moved to the wrist, to which it is tied.

Men often wear boutonnieres, also of French origin, meaning buttonhole. The boutonniere doesn’t go in the buttonhole but rather is pinned above it with the stem down.

Hand-held bouquets

Of late, the corsage’s popularity is being challenged by the hand-held bouquet, which has become a darling of TikTok. We’ve added more options to our lineup to capture what students are looking for. Something to consider is that while a hand-held bouquet can make a statement in photos, it may not be something a date wants to hold onto all night.

Complementary colors

Dresses come in an array of designer colors that aren’t always available in fresh-cut flowers. You can save yourself a lot of aggravation by picking complementary rather than aiming for an exact match.

Perhaps you don’t want the flowers to be as bold as the dress color. Consider tints or shades of the dress color: for instance, purple, lavender, magenta or orchid.

Contrasting colors

If you want a bold look, consider contrasting colors that also are complementary. These are opposites on the color wheel that provide a nice pop: for instance, red and green, yellow and purple, orange and blue. 

A nod to neutral

When in doubt, you can always stay neutral. The fact is that all-white continues to be our most popular corsage year after year, often accented with silver or gold to match jewelry instead of dress color.

Our staff is always available to assist with your prom needs. Of course, decisions about prom flowers come down to what you like and what your budget allows.

When you choose what’s appropriate for your prom experience, there are no wrong answers.

Self-care made simple: flowers

The image shows a rose bouquet with  multiple colors, including red, pink, yellow and orange.

Exercise, eat healthy, get plenty of sleep. These are among the most common means of practicing self-care, even if many of us struggle to achieve them daily.

Did you know that an even easier way to boost your physical and mental health is by including flowers in your everyday life? Academic researchers have linked flowers to happiness.

“Flowers aren’t just for making emotional statements at holidays or milestone moments,” said CEO Tom Royer. “Having them around on a regular basis improves our mental and emotional health.”

Researchers have noted that flowers can be a source of pleasure. Flowers are known to trigger the release of “happy” brain chemicals dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin.

While flowers won’t replace working out or eating well, they are beneficial to self-care.

Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey conducted a 10-month study of participants’ behavioral and emotional response to receiving flowers. Their report, “An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers,” found that flowers improve mood, help people make deep connections, and have an immediate positive effect on happiness.

On the heels of the Rutgers study, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital looked at the “Home Ecology of Flowers.”

The research found that people living with flowers reported increased feelings of compassion and kindness toward others. By placing flowers in high visibility areas of their home, participants reported feeling less anxiety and worry.

Happiness at home carried over to the workplace where the individuals were happier and felt more enthusiasm and energy.

Reawaken a sense of purpose and possibility with these spring flowers

Hyacinths of red, blue and yellow in a wicker basket are an example of popular spring flowers.

I

t seemed like New Year’s Eve fireworks had barely faded from view when suddenly it was the waning days of winter.

Maybe you lacked the time or the willpower to sustain the resolve with which you vowed to exercise more, eat better and generally become a better version of yourself.

Never fear. For a renewed sense of purpose, look no further than nature and Easter, those perennial symbols of rebirth and reawakening.

Spring means more sunlight, which allows plants to produce more food. The more food it has, the more that a plant grows. And as temperatures rise, plants grow more quickly.

Indoor inspiration

Of course, you can bring the sense of endless possibilities that spring flowers inspire by bringing them indoors. Here are four favorites that you will find in our stores:

Daffodils – These are one of the first plants to emerge each spring. They represent rebirth, new beginnings and hope. At Easter, we carry the bulb plant. Our customers love the bright yellow flower. Daffodils are a favorite of churches for decorating at Easter.

Hyacinth – The most fragrant of spring flowers, this is another one we carry in bulb form at Easter, in colors of white, pink or blue. They are available as a single bulb or pots of multiple bulbs. Bulb plants are a fun addition to a child’s Easter basket, allowing them to watch a plant’s life cycle.

Easter lily – The pure white flower symbolizes purity, rebirth and new beginnings and most often is associated with Christ’s resurrection. For those reasons, there’s a long tradition of giving Easter lilies as gifts and decorating churches with them. Although we don’t carry the Easter Lily plant year-round (and it typically isn’t used as a fresh-cut flower), we offer the white stargazer lily, which is similar in shape and sweet fragrance.

Tulips – This plant/flower symbolizes perfect and deep love. We carry the potted bulb during Easter, but we also offer fresh-cut tulips generally from January through April. Tulips are one of the few flowers that continue to grow after being cut and can stretch up to six inches or more.

If your New Year’s resolutions didn’t take hold, no worries. Spring and Easter can get you back on track, offering a sense of renewal.

Spring flowers offer convincing proof of that.

Valentine’s Day roses last longer when kept cool and watered

The temperature spikes at Valentine’s Day, fueled by romantic fires and the flames of love.

But the roses you received to celebrate the holiday will last longest – a week or more – if you keep them away from heat sources, such as a vent or direct sunlight.

Before you go to bed, place the roses in an unheated room or garage (but not below 32 degrees as flowers can freeze), then put them back on display in the morning.

Water daily

It’s also important to give the roses plenty to drink. Even cut flowers get thirsty, so add water pretty much every day.

For roses in a vase:

  • If after five days or so the water is getting dirty, pull the roses out, re-cut the stems and put them back in the vase with fresh water.
  • Add a packet of floral preservative, available from your florist.If the water is relatively clean, leave it alone as it will have some preservative left in it.

For roses loose or in a box:

  • If the roses came with tubes on the stems, remove the tubes and re-cut the stems about 1 inch from the bottom. It is best to cut at an angle, which creates more surface area for water intake.
  • Place the roses in a vase with water that is room temperature to a little warm.
  • Add floral preservative to the water; you should have received a packet with the delivery.
  • Only change the water if it becomes noticeably dirty.

If roses don’t open

Within a day or two, your roses should begin to open. If not, remove them from the vase, re-cut the stems at an angle, and return them to the vase.

If they still do not open, re-cut the stems and float the flowers in a bath of water for an hour or two to rehydrate them. Then return them to the vase.

Most times, this will bring the roses around.

Just taking these steps, which require only minutes each day, you will have Valentine’s Day roses that look beautiful for a week or longer.

Red roses remain No. 1, but flower and gift options abound for Valentine’s Day

Roses are red, my love, the old Bobby Vinton song begins.

But while red still rules for Valentine’s Day, roses come in a rainbow of colors. Rosier still is that when celebrating the holiday of love, flower, plant and gift options abound and at price points to satisfy any budget.

ROSES

Red roses signify love and admiration, so it’s no wonder that they are the quarterback in what is the floral industry’s version of football’s big game. Pink, white, mixed and yellow roses comprise the other most popular colors for Valentine’s Day, according to the Society of American Florists’ website aboutflowers.com.

Also note that roses can be purchased in varying quantities, sizes and presentations, offering customers a great deal of choice.

OTHER FLOWERS

Besides roses, popular Valentine’s Day flowers include tulips, carnations, alstroemeria, lilies. Connells Maple Lee offers a mixed bouquet comprising roses, mini hydrangea, daisy poms, carnations, mini carnations and caspia wrapped in a sleeve. Or consider garden mixes in shades of lavender, pink and white.

PLANTS

From reducing stress and anxiety to improving air quality and productivity, household plants are an easy, affordable way to bring natural beauty inside. Many plants are easy to care for, too, and can be placed in multiple spots around a home or office.

Succulents are drought resistant and fleshy for storing water, combining a striking appearance with minimal care. Dish gardens feature several different plants in a single container.  

CHOCOLATE

The ancient Aztecs believed chocolate was an aphrodisiac. The first heart-shaped box of chocolates debuted in 1861. Given that history, it’s easy to understand why chocolate is associated with love and romance and remains a popular Valentine’s Day option.

PLUSH AND BALLOONS

Soft and cuddly, classic and timeless, a symbol of love and affection, these are among the attributes that make a teddy bear or other stuffed animal a great Valentine’s Day gift for children and children at heart.

Another way to make hearts and spirits soar is with a colorful, fun and entertaining balloon. Some will even sing for you!

If you can’t pick just one option, Connells Maple Lee offers a combo featuring a plush white bear, heart-shaped mylar balloon and chocolate-covered pretzels.

FIGURINES

Another enduring expression of love, figurines are small carved or molded figures, collectible and a popular way to personalize a gift, often as an add-on to flowers.

Whatever your Valentine’s day needs, your florist will be happy to help. It’s always best to act early to ensure the most abundant selection.

Connells Maple Lee donates $1,830 to Mid-Ohio Food Collective

From left, Craig Truax, director of corporate partnerships, Mid-Ohio Food Collective, and Andrew Royer, vice president of Ohio operations, Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts.

Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts has donated $1,830 to the Mid-Ohio Food Collective, which operates the largest food bank in Ohio.

Family-owned Connells Maple Lee earmarks $10 from each sale of its Admiration arrangement for charitable donations.

The Food Collective, which is based at 3960 Brookham Drive, Grove City, serves 20 counties.

“Mid-Ohio Food Collective distributes enough food daily to provide more than 182,000 meals,” said Craig Truax, director of corporate partnerships. “We wouldn’t be able to do this critical work without the support of our community and amazing partners like Connells Maple Lee.”

Tom Royer, CEO of Connells Maple Lee, noted that his company has enjoyed a long-time relationship with the Food Collective.

“We have great respect for the Food Collective’s mission and creative solutions toward ending hunger and building healthier communities,” Royer said. “We all benefit from those efforts, which is why we are honored to be associated with them.”