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Annual plants add beauty: 3 tips for taking care of them

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Colorful flowering annual baskets and pots provide an easy and inexpensive way to increase the beauty and enjoyment of outside living areas.

Annual plants are available in a wide range of colors and varieties, offering something for everyone.

Care is simple. Just keep these things in mind:

• Choose plants suited to the light levels they’re growing in:

  • Sunny spots require plants that thrive in the sun, such as geraniums, petunias, marigolds, salvia, ageratum, alyssum and portulaca.
  • Plants that do better with partial shade are begonias, impatiens, fuchsia and coleus.

• Container plants drink lots of water. Check them daily.

• To keep the blooms coming all season, add a water-soluble fertilizer a couple of times each week when watering. Plants also can be encouraged to bloom and stay “bushy” by pinching off the spent blooms.

 

Don’t let ‘DOGs’ take a bite out of your Mother’s Day order

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Our Google search for “flowers hershey, pa” returned several sponsored links from what appear to be local florists.

On one website, there’s this message: “Hershey, Pennsylvania Flower Delivery by our local florist to Hershey TODAY!”

The owner of that website is in Michigan.

On the home page of another of the websites is this: “Best Hershey, PA Same Day Flower Delivery!” The page lists Hershey-area hotels, schools, funeral homes. It even includes a Hershey weather forecast.

The company behind that website is out of New Jersey.

‘Deceptive order gatherer’

Each of the companies is what is known in the floral industry as an “order gatherer,” or sometimes derided as a “deceptive order gatherer,” or DOG, as described in a recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

They take orders and then broker them to local florists or even ship the flowers (unarranged, of course) via UPS or FedEx. These DOGs, which operate year-round, are hunting for your Mother’s Day order. And if they get it, they’ll likely take a bite out of your wallet that will exceed what you would have paid by working with your local florist to place the order.

The order gatherer will entice you with deals that look great but, upon closer inspection, probably aren’t.

In almost all cases, the order gatherers present their flowers at discounted prices. A tulip bouquet valued at $81.99 is shown as marked down to $44.99, for instance. They also tend to upsell, so that when you select a standard or regular arrangement it defaults to a “deluxe” (read: more expensive) version.

Costly commissions and fees

On one order gather’s website, the home page featured a “best seller” arrangement of lilies, roses and alstroemeria valued at $34.99 but discounted to $27.99. When we clicked on it, our selection instead chose the deluxe version: valued at $44.99 but with a “Google discount” of $9 that put the total at $35.99.

At checkout, there was a $2.99 charge for same-day delivery – and a service/handling fee of $14.99. Our total was $53.97 even with the so-called Google discount.

Order gatherers typically deduct a 20 percent commission and other fees from orders, according to the Inquirer article. So if a flower order is valued at $44.99, that leaves less than $36 for the local florist, who then must deduct his delivery fee. Pretty soon, that $44.99 worth of flowers is maybe only a $28 value or less to the customer.

“It’s a no-win situation,” the Inquirer noted of this practice. The florist “can either fill the full order and lose money, or substitute a cheaper arrangement and risk consumer outrage.”

Let your local florist help

Either way, it might not be a risk worth taking when it comes to the impression you wish to make on the recipient. If you have a strong and trusting relationship with your local florist, then why not let them help you with an out-of-town flower delivery?

Reputable florists will make sure you get the value and quality that you deserve on your long-distance orders. After all, they want to be treated fairly when they are on the receiving end of orders.

The deceptive order gatherers, on the other hand, extract high service and delivery fees – only to hand off the order to someone else.

Another one of the order gatherers we examined offered same-day delivery of a gerbera arrangement valued at $49.99 but discounted to $29.99. Then another offer appeared, lowering the price to $9.99. But a service charge of $19.99 and a handling charge of $10.50 brought the total to $40.48.

The order gatherer won’t earn those fees, and you won’t get what you paid for.

When it comes to flowers, these DOGs aren’t man’s best friend.

 

 

Flowers help stem the morning blahs: Harvard study

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Maybe it’s the long winter or the still-cold mornings, or just too much work and not enough sleep. There are any number of reasons why it can be tough to get at ’em in the morning.

When it comes to a pick-me-up, caffeine isn’t for all tastes. But everyone can start their days with flowers — and with good reason.

People are happier and more energetic after looking at flowers first thing in the morning, according to a behavioral study conducted by researchers at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital.

“The morning blahs, it turns out, is a real phenomenon, with positive moods — happiness, friendliness and warmth, for example — manifesting much later in the day,” said lead researcher Dr. Nancy Etcoff. “Interestingly, when we placed a small bouquet of flowers into their morning routines, people perked up.”

The final study results demonstrated that flowers affect people emotionally at home, causing them to feel less anxious and more compassionate. They even reported a boost of energy that lasted all day.

“What I find interesting is that by starting the day in a more positive mood, you are likely to transfer those happier feelings to others — it’s what is called mood contagion,” Etcoff said. “And, the kitchen is the place where families tend to gather in the morning — imagine how big a difference a better morning mood can make.”

To learn more about this study and ways to incorporate flowers into your kitchen, click here.

 

6 easy ways to get a jump on spring

The days are getting longer, the sun is getting brighter, and everyone is looking to shake off cabin fever. Spring is almost here, but you can get a jump on the season by bringing bright color and natural beauty into your home.

Here are some easy and cost-effective ideas to get you started:

1. Blooms: Nothing says spring quite like flowering plants. Violets, begonia, kalanchoe, cyclamen and Phaleonopsis orchids are all easy care and just need a home near a bright window for cheerful blooms over an extended period.

Bulb plants such as hyacinths, daffodils and tulips offer an added bonus. In the fall, you can plant the bulbs outside so that they deliver a splash of color next spring.

2. Think green: Green foliage plants add oxygen and humidity back into the air that we breathe and remove some impurities. Rejuvenate and dust off your houseplants. Better yet, pick up a new plant to replace one or two that are tired or to fill a bare corner or tabletop. Add a new basket or ceramic pot cover to add color and enhance your décor.

3. Common scents: Candles aren’t just for the fall and winter holiday seasons any more. Vanilla and lavender are two of the most popular scents, but you’ll find plenty of fresh, clean fragrances and styles of candles that have increased in popularity and are perfect for year-round use. Try a fresh linen or spring floral scent.

4. Bring the outdoors in: Trees and shrubs are just starting to bud. Trim a few branches and bring the outdoors inside to force open the blooms in a vase. Some good choices are forsythia, pussy willow and flowering cherry or crabapple stems, each of which produces colorful blooms.

Becoming more popular are curly willow and red twig dogwood branches. Although these branches do not have visible flowers, they look great in a vase and give texture when you add a few fresh-cut flowers. When you’re at the florist, be sure to pick up floral preservative to add to the water.

5. Front and center: Don’t forget about the front door and porch. Hang branches or a nice door piece for instant spring. Bulb plants, pansies and primrose all do well on a porch or patio. You may have to cover them or bring them inside overnight in case of frost or low temperatures. A cheerful front door will put a smile on your face and on those of your neighbors.

6. Treat yourself: Studies show that flowers are a great weapon against the morning blahs, boost energy and workplace productivity, and improve emotional health. So pick up a mixed handful, a weekly special or even just a few loose stems of your favorites.

Summertime flower fun for kids

It’s summertime, which of course means that the kids are home from school and looking for things to do.

Barry Spengler of Royer’s Flowers stopped by Fox 43 Morning News to offer some crafty and fun ideas involving flowers that have the added benefit of not costing a lot to make:

Feed me, Seymour

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A little while back, a customer purchased cut hydrangeas from one of our stores. A brunch was being held in honor of her mother-in-law, and the customer was making hydrangea centerpieces for the occasion.

We placed a special order for the South America-grown flowers, so we knew they were as fresh as could be. Yet the customer was back in our store within 24 hours, her hydrangeas having wilted.

We replaced them so that her needs were met, but in the meantime we recut the original flowers and put them in water with cut-flower food. Within hours, they looked gorgeous again.

The moral to this story? If you’re going to work with cut hydrangeas – lots and lots of consumers are these days, and with good reasons – then don’t skimp on flower food.

Garden feel
Hydrangea flowers have big heads – a single one can be 4 to 8 inches wide – and make a bold statement with great ease. Just plop them in any kind of water-holding container (canning jars are popular) and they look terrific, bringing a garden feel indoors.

Clearly, hydrangeas are popular these days: You’ll find lots of evidence on Pinterest, the online bulletin board. In fact, we incorporated them into a number of our arrangements and deliver loose hydrangeas to our stores a couple of times each week.

Once you get the flowers home, make certain that they have plenty of water that has been mixed with flower food. You can purchase packets of food from your local florist; mix one packet per quart of water.

Hydrangeas represent a great value because you don’t need many of them to make a big impression and, with proper care, they last a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mums the word year-round

Many of us decorate porches and patios with hardy mums in the fall. But a little bit of loving and some attention to the calendar can help you get the most out of your mums and even keep them blooming in a garden for years to come.

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If you planted mums in the ground back in the fall, then the summer months are important in their growth cycle.

Pinching: By July 15, you should pinch the top growth back 1 to 2 inches. This will ensure that your mums bloom in the fall rather than during the summer.

Feeding: From spring through July, nourish your mums twice a month with an all-purpose garden fertilizer mixed in water. Stop feeding in August.

Controlling pests: Aphids are the most common pests that afflict garden mums. These are small soft-bodied insects about the size of a pinhead. They range in color from green to yellow to black. They make their livings by sucking the sap out of tender new growth. To control them, spray an all-purpose insecticide or insecticidal soap on the plants once a week for a couple of weeks. Take care not to spray plants in direct sun or when the temperature is above 90 degrees.

Now, if you are thinking about planting your potted mum for the first time, here are some steps to take:

• Be sure to water your potted mums daily as warm days will make them thirsty. At the same time, too much water can damage the roots; provide drainage in decorative pots or baskets.

• It’s best to plant the mums in October so their roots have time to grow before cold weather sets in.

• Once the mums are planted, water them thoroughly a couple of times each week through mid-November. This will encourage the roots to grow deeply. The deeper the roots, the stronger the plants will be.

• In late spring, cut the plants down 6 to 8 inches above the ground. This will give you bushy, compact plants with lots of flowers. As spring gives way to summer, follow the instructions above relative to feeding and pinching.

Here’s how to extend the life of your Easter blooms

Even after the Easter Bunny has visited and the last eggs are hunted, Easter plants will bring beauty and color into your home. In fact, you can make the flowers last a lot longer by following some easy steps.

What’s more, after your bulb plants – such as daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, crocus and narcissus – have finished blooming, you can transplant the bulbs into the ground and watch the flowers come up next year.

The key to making the flowers/blooms last longer – perhaps twice as long – is to keep the plants in a cool place, such as at night. This will stall the normal aging process, extending the life of the blooms.

While you’re sleeping, place the plants in your garage or out on your porch (but don’t let them freeze), and then bring them back inside your house in the morning. For smaller plants, such as a single-bloom hyacinth, you might even have room in your refrigerator.

Of course, it’s also important to keep the plants watered.

Once the blooms peak, let the plant die back into itself, nourishing the bulb. Keep the bulb in its pot and store in a cool, dark place. In early fall, separate the bulbs and plant them in your garden in anticipation of their blooming again next spring.

Getting the most out of your Valentine’s roses

Valentine’s season can last well beyond Feb. 14. In fact, by following some simple steps, your roses should provide you with a week or more of enjoyment.

All Royer’s arrangements arrive in vases that contain a mixture of water and flower food (FloraLife, in our case). You just need to make sure that there is enough water over time as roses are surprisingly thirsty.

Other tips for getting the most out of your roses:

13-V2For roses that arrive in a vase:

• If your roses don’t begin to open within a few days, remove them from the vase, re-cut their stems and return them to the vase. Although not necessary, cut the stems under water if possible.

• Keep the flowers cool: the cooler they are, the less water they will lose through their stems and petals.

• Add water in a sink so that any spillage will not damage a table or other furniture that the roses are sitting on.

For roses that arrive in a box or loose:

• Put water in the vase and add the packet of flower food that came with your delivery.

• Cut approximately one inch off the bottom of the rose to create a fresh pathway for water to work its way up the stem.

• Remove any foliage or thorns that may get stuck when the stems are placed in the vase.

• If you add any greens, make sure that any foliage is above the water. Foliage under water promotes unwanted bacterial growth.

By following those steps, you’re ready for the final, most important step of all: enjoy your roses!

 

Local florist bests big delivery sites in Yahoo! ‘Savvy Spender’ comparison

Yahoo!’s “Savvy Spender” set out to review four of the top floral delivery sites: 1800Flowers.com, ProFlowers.com, Teleflora and FTD.

But at the end of the day — or approximately 2:40 of this video clip — it was a local florist that outshone the big online retailers.

“To see how a local florist compares to the online experience, we ordered a dozen roses from our neighborhood florist,” said Savvy Spender host Vera Gibbons. “It was by far the most impressive arrangement with the longest stems, the most vibrant roses, and beautiful accents.

“Remember, roses travel all the way from South America, and it takes a professional florist to rehydrate them properly.”