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Living with flowers results in ‘significant decrease’ in stress levels and improved moods: study

Working, commuting, paying bills, tending to family demands.

How do I stress thee? Let me count the ways.

If there’s too much on your to-do list, you might want to scrap it altogether and start over with a single item: get flowers.

Recent research from the University of North Florida revealed that the presence of flowers can reduce stress, according to the Society of American Florists, of which Connells Maple Lee is a member.

“The findings show that people who lived with flowers in their homes for just a few days reported a significant decrease in their levels of stress and improvements in their moods.”

One-third of people are stressed every day; women are particularly affected, with one in four of them experiencing stress multiple times daily.

“Our findings are important from a public health perspective,” said lead researcher Erin Largo-Wight, associate professor in the university’s department of public health, “because adding flowers to reduce stress does not require tremendous effort to generate a meaningful effect.”

Helpful tips

The Society of American Florists offered these tips for using flowers “to help relax and rewind”:

Experience flowers: Walk into your local florist and take a look around. Just the sight and smell of the natural beauty of flowers will put you at ease. Ask your florist to show you what’s in the cooler so you can learn about new varieties, colors and design styles.

Find peace: If you are having a bad day when it seems like nothing is going right, try flowers in soothing, tranquil colors, such as blues, lavenders and pale greens. Place a small arrangement on your nightstand or in your bathroom, so you can experience the stress-relieving benefits of flowers right before you go to bed, and right when you get up to start your day.

Help others: Sometimes the best way to relieve stress and the pressures of the day, is to do something nice for someone else. Here’s an idea: Go to your florist and buy two bouquets. Keep one for yourself, then take the other bouquet and “petal it forward” to a stranger on the street. You’ll be amazed at the reaction to your random act of kindness.

Give yourself some joy: One great way to reconnect with joy and feel less stressed is to surround yourself with simple things that make you feel happy and loved, like a colorful bunch of flowers or a blooming plant. Flowers have the power to open hearts, and when your heart is open you are more likely to focus on the positive points in your day.

Be a friend: Do you have a friend or loved one who could use a boost? Have flowers delivered unexpectedly to their door, and watch their ordinary day become extraordinary. It will make you smile, too.

Color your world: Color therapists say colors really do affect our moods. The happiest color? Orange. It promotes optimism, enthusiasm, and a sense of uplift. Choose orange flowers — roses, gerberas, lilies, ranunculus, alstroemeria, tulips — to put on your kitchen counter or your work desk, and see your mood soar.

Pepper your house with small doses of calm: When bringing home flowers from your florist, have a couple of small vases and containers available so you can place a few flowers in different parts of your living space. You’ll be amazed how many small arrangements you can get out of a single bunch of flowers, and you’ll have constant reminders to “stop and smell the flowers.”

The 2018 research from the University of North Florida builds on other university studies suggesting that flowers can help make people happy, strengthen feelings of compassion, foster creativity and boost energy.

 

A Guy’s Guide to Flower Buying

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There’s a gender gap when it comes to buying flowers: Women buy 65 percent of fresh flowers, according to the Society of American Florists, while men buy 35 percent.

To the extent that men might be intimidated or uncomfortable buying flowers, we’d like to make the experience a more enjoyable one for them.

To do this, we tapped the expertise of our own Cheryl Brill, who shared these insights based her more than 20 years of experience in the flower business.

Roses are red – and lots of other colors

Too often, men think only of roses for their significant others, and then only in red. Cheryl encourages male customers to be more adventurous, whether it’s with other colors of roses, other flower varieties, or other looks such as a textured garden appearance.

Don’t stop at Valentine’s Day

Maybe the tendency to focus on red roses has a lot to do with Valentine’s Day which, let’s face it, is ruled by red roses. But the year has only just begun when Valentine’s Day rolls around, so why not mix it up for the 364 days that don’t fall on Feb. 14?

What’s more, 63 percent of flower purchases are for the buyer, compared with 37 percent as gifts. And 86 percent of purchases are for non-calendar occasions, 50 percent of which fall into the “no special occasion” category. The bottom line is that people like to receive flowers any day of the year.

Bouquets don’t have to break the bank

Flower prices tend to rise around Valentine’s Day, in concert with a spike in demand for what is the floral industry’s equivalent of football’s Super Bowl. If that’s the only time of year that you purchase flowers, you can get a warped sense of how much they cost on a day-to-day basis.

Cheryl described how a $7.99 rose bunch made a positive impression on one male customer, who realized that he could afford to be a more frequent flower buyer.

Get the right vase

If she likes to arrange flowers, Cheryl said, then get her a vase that lends itself to arranging and one that fits the décor of the room where it will be used. Does she tend to put flowers on the kitchen counter or on the coffee table?

You don’t have to DIY

In this age of do-it-yourself, there’s a tendency to think that we must go it alone with everything. Rest assured, your trained florist is eager to help. It starts with the right container; she noted that it doesn’t have to be a plain, clear vase. Either bring one in, or your florist can help you select one.

Think about what you want to say

Before you visit or call your florist, Cheryl advised, think about the words you want to send along with the flowers. She said florists are a bit like bartenders: they’ve seen and heard everything, so don’t be embarrassed. Speak from the heart because the sentiment is just as important as the flowers that it goes with.

Valentine’s Day is an oasis amid the darkness of winter, Cheryl said, but it’s nice to see male customers the rest of the year, too.

Plants and pets: know the facts to keep dogs and cats healthy

No plant says Christmas quite like the poinsettia. But nary a holiday season goes by without poinsettias being negatively associated with pet health.

Yet the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says poinsettias “may be the most misrepresented plant when it comes to toxicity. Since 1919 poinsettias have been called lethal if ingested by pets. However, many animal studies have shown that it is just not true.”

Relatively few plant and flower species are dangerous to pets, and the effects can range widely.

As the ASPCA notes, poinsettias and other holiday plants are not good for pets to ingest, potentially irritating the mouth and stomach and sometimes causing vomiting, but generally are “over-rated in toxicity.”

The same can’t be said about lilies and cats. Eating just a couple of leaves or licking a few pollen grains off their fur can quickly cause kidney failure, according to CBS News.

“A cat that’s eaten part of a lily will vomit soon afterwards, but this may gradually lessen after two to four hours. Within 12 to 24 hours, the cat may start to urinate frequently. Urination may then stop if kidney failure occurs. If untreated, a cat will die within four to seven days after eating a lily.”

This is the case for any true lily — belonging to the plant genus Lilium — including Easter lily, tiger lily, rubrum lily, Japanese show lily and certain species of daylily.

In contrast, the calla lily, peace lily, lily of the valley and Peruvian lily (alstroemeria) are not true lilies and won’t cause kidney failure in cats although they have other toxic principles, according to the Pet Poison Helpline.

If you love plants and pets, then it’s a good idea to consider which ones are the best fit for your home. Here are several resources:

The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center offers an exhaustive, sortable list of plants that are toxic or non-toxic to dogs and cats. The list focuses on plants “that have been reported as having systemic effects on animals and/or intense effects on the gastrointestinal tract,” according to the ASPCA, which cautions that the list is not meant to be all-inclusive.

If you think your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, the ASPCA suggests contacting your veterinarian or its 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

The Humane Society offers an informative — and highly alliterative — list of “plants potentially poisonous to pets.”

The Pet Poison Helpline offers its Top 10 Plants Poisonous to Pets.

Of course, as the Pet Poison Helpline notes:

“While there are thousands of species of plants and flowers, only a small percentage of plants are truly dangerous and poisonous to your pet.”

Terrariums back on the job — and perfect for the office

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Entire TV shows these days are dedicated to tiny houses, so perhaps it should come as little surprise that mini-gardens are popular again.

Connells Maple Lee recently reintroduced terrariums to its product lineup. They are individually crafted and come in rope; dome (small, medium and large); and greenhouse versions.

Growing plants in transparent containers dates to Greece at least 2,500 years ago, according to University of Missouri Extension. The practice in the United States is traced to New England.

“The invention of the terrarium as we know it is credited to Dr. N.B. Ward, a 19th-century London physician. … While studying a sphinx moth emerging from a chrysalis he had buried in moist earth in a closed bottle, he was amazed to see a seedling fern and some grass growing inside. He watched them grow for four years, during which time not one drop of water was added nor was the cover removed.”

Closed terrariums are best at keeping humidity inside (followed by open terrariums and dish gardens), so they only have to be watered once per week. Terrariums and plants are great for offices as they are known to improve air quality, boost productivity and reduce stress.

 

To get the best value, buy from a local florist instead of a wire service

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There are lots of statistics out there about the economic benefits of buying local. When you buy from locally owned stores, the money stays in your community and puts your neighbors to work.

It’s true whether you spend your money at a local restaurant, hardware store or florist.

Speaking of flowers, buying directly from a local florist rather than through a national wire service such as FTD (which last year bought ProFlowers) or Teleflora can put money back in your pocket, too.

That’s because the wire services are middlemen, adding another layer of charges that consumers pay for without realizing any added value in return. The wire services are marketing companies that hand orders over to local florists, who make the arrangements and deliver them to your home or office.

CNN Money, in a story timed to Valentine’s Day 2013, noted how FTD had advertised a glass vase with roses and mini-carnations for $44.99. However, to send that arrangement to Reno, Nev., FTD’s service charge bumped to price to $65.

By comparison, that same arrangement ordered directly from a Reno florist: $53.

“If all orders came in this way, our business would not be sustainable,” the florist said.

Of course, this begs the question of why they stick with the wire services if florists have trouble making money on incoming orders.

Greg Royer, president and CEO of Connells Maple Lee, said that FTD and Teleflora are generally well regarded; they have been in business since 1910 and 1934, respectively.

“We also want to be able to send orders to other florists, so accepting orders via the wire services is only fair play,” he said.

However, he noted that from a consumer perspective, it’s a better deal to work with a local florist. You’ll be dealing with the same people who are going to arrange and deliver your flowers.

And you’ll avoid the added fees associated with the wire services.

Valentine’s Day survival guide: 5 tips

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A local florist will give you the best value for your money, according to NBC News.

 

Love is all around at Valentine’s Day, but you never want to take matters of the heart for granted.

Our survival guide is here to help, before, during and after the holiday. And it’ll help you whether you’re giving or receiving flowers — or both.

SHOP EARLY

One of the keys to a successful Valentine’s Day is not forgetting that it is Valentine’s Day. Order your flowers early and even have them delivered early. This way, you’ll be sure to stay ahead of any snowstorms, and the recipient will just have longer to enjoy the flowers.

What’s more, Connells Maple Lee offers a special incentive: Have your Valentine’s Day order delivered Feb. 12 or earlier, and the delivery will include a coupon for a free dozen-rose bunch redeemable in March.

SHOP LOCALLY

The big national retailers will spend a lot of time and money bombarding you with their offers, but you’ll get the most bang for your bouquet when you purchase it from a local florist. Don’t take our word for it, though. Just watch this story from NBC News.

DON’T LET THE ‘DOGS’ OUT

Be wary of “deceptive order gatherers,” or DOGs, that often make it look like they are local florists but aren’t. They might even be located out of state. And if they sink their teeth into your order, they’ll take an unnecessary bite out of your wallet. Click here for details on why you will want to avoid them.

PICK YOUR PRICE POINTS

It’s the thought that counts, so you don’t have to spend a lot to show that you care about someone. From a single rose or a stuffed bear to a mixed bunch or mixed-color roses, you can find many options for below $50.

HANDLE WITH CARE

Given proper amounts of water and cool-enough temperatures, high-quality roses from a local florist can last a week or longer. Just follow these easy steps.

With these tips, you’re not just going to survive Valentine’s Day, but you’re going to thrive.

And what’s not to love about that?

How to care for fresh-cut roses

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We’re on a mission to turn Valentine’s Day into Valentine’s Week.

No, we’re not talking about a loved one having to send you flowers for seven days in a row. Rather, we want to make sure that you get a week’s worth of enjoyment out of those beautiful fresh-cut roses you just received.

With just a little bit of effort on your part, high-quality roses from your local florist should open and last at least five days, and many times for seven days or more.

IF YOU RECEIVE ROSES IN A VASE

  • They will use more water than you think, so add water pretty much daily.
  • If after five days or so the water is getting pretty 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, it is best to leave it alone as it will have some preservative left in it.

IF YOU RECEIVE 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 YOUR ROSES DON’T BEGIN TO OPEN

  • Within a day or two, your roses should begin to open. If they don’t, remove them from the vase, re-cut the stems (at an angle), and return them to the vase.
  • If they still do not begin to open, re-cut the stems but this time also 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.

KEEP THEM COOL

  • Keep roses away from a heat source, such as a vent or direct sunlight.
  • When they aren’t on display, or while you’re sleeping, you can even place the roses in an unheated room or garage.

Here’s to a Happy Valentine’s Day or, better yet, Valentine’s Week.

Poinsettia primer: learning about and caring for the most popular holiday plant

Poinsettias

We typically think of the North Pole when it comes to Christmas, but the most popular holiday plant originates with our neighbor to the south.

Poinsettias are native to Mexico and were introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico.

In fact, Poinsett’s death in 1851 is commemorated every Dec. 12 as National Poinsettia Day.

Some other facts:

  • The colored parts of poinsettias aren’t flowers but bracts (leaves).
  • Poinsettias have been called the lobster flower and flame leaf flower.
  • Poinsettias are not poisonous, to humans or pets: An Ohio State study found that a 50-pound child who ate 500 bracts (leaves) might have a slight tummy ache.
  • Poinsettias are commercially grown in all 50 states. For instance, the 20,000 poinsettias that Royer’s receives each year are from Lancaster County.
  • Ninety percent of all poinsettias are exported from the United States.

Source: www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/poinsettia 

HOW TO CARE FOR POINSETTIAS:

  • Average room temperature is fine; they cannot tolerate cold.
  • Bright light is best, as they originate from the warm, bright southwest and Mexico. If given ample sunlight, they’ll last well into the new year.
  • Avoid keeping a plant too wet, they like moist but not wet. Frequency and amount of water will vary depending upon amount of sun, humidity in house and pot size.

7 ways to say you’re sorry – and many other free quotations and expressions

In the doghouse? Our website will help you find the words to say you’re sorry.
In the doghouse? Our website will help you find the words to say you’re sorry.

The Greek mathematician Archimedes said that with a long-enough lever and a fulcrum, he could move the world.

That’s a pretty lofty goal. What if you are just searching for the right words to accompany the flowers that you’re sending to a loved one?

Connells Maple Lee’s website offers more than 200 quotations and expressions to help you say what needs to be said. They cover everything from anniversaries and birthdays to love and marriage, business and education to sympathy and thank you.

For instance, here are seven ways to say you’re sorry:

1. “Accept these flowers in place of the words I said.”

2. “I wouldn`t have made a mistake with my mouth shut.”

3. “I’m wrong – you’re right.”

4. “I muffed it! I`m so sorry!”

5. “I’ll never forgive myself … but I’m hoping you will. I’m sorry.”

6. “I may not be perfect, but my apology is close.”

7. “Will these keys let me out of the doghouse? I’m sorry.”

Feel free to pick one or cobble together your own creation from these suggestions.

We can’t promise that your words will move the world, but they will be a really nice complement to the flowers you send.

5 things you should know about caring for annual plants

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So you bought annual plants in a container at your local florist, garden center or home-improvement store.

Annual plants – such as petunias, geraniums and begonias that complete their life cycles in one year – pose perennial challenges once you bring them home.

Here are five things you should know about caring for your annuals:

1. You have to add nutrients: Your plant didn’t come in nutrient-rich soil. Rather, it’s a potting mix that includes peat moss. This mixture is inert, meaning that it doesn’t contain the nutrients found in soil. So you have to add the nutrients by applying fertilizer on a regular basis.

2. Fertilizer is soluble, so you have to keep adding it: Regular watering of your annual plants will wash out the added nutrients if the container has drainage holes on the bottom.

3. Don’t add too much fertilizer: One of the ingredients in fertilizer is salt. Too much fertilizer – and with it, too much salt – can damage plant roots. The salt in the fertilizer will remove whatever moisture is left in the roots and burn them.

4. Cut the amount in half: Whatever dosage the fertilizer manufacturer recommends, consider cutting the amount in half and fertilizing every time you water. This way you have less of a chance of burning the roots, and your plant gets a continual supply of nutrients rather than peaks and valleys.

5. Give them a pinch: Remove the old blooms and pinch a plant’s tips, which will force out new growth. An occasional light trim will keep a plant bushy and blooming.

With proper care, your annual plants will bloom beautifully for you this summer.