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Here’s how to get a week or more out of your Valentine’s Day roses

Valentine’s Day often is described as the flower industry’s version of the Super Bowl.

It’s the No. 1 holiday for florists, similar in size to the Christmas season but playing out in a much shorter schedule.

In 2022, 22 percent of Americans bought fresh flowers or plants as gifts for Valentine’s Day, according to the Society of American Florists. Roses comprised 83 percent of those purchases, with red roses the top seller by far.

Just as the victorious football team’s most devoted fans will celebrate for days after the big game, the recipient of Valentine’s Day roses reasonably can expect to get a week or longer out of them by taking some simple steps.

KEEP ROSES COOL

Keep them away from a heat source, such as a vent or direct sunlight. While you are sleeping, you can place them in an unheated room or garage before putting them back on display in the morning.

KEEP ROSES WATERED

If roses arrive 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 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.

If roses arrive 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 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.

In one significant way, the Valentine’s Day/Super Bowl analogy falls short of the goal line.

Because unlike the football game, the best outcome for Valentine’s Day is when everyone – florist, giver and recipient alike – emerges a winner because those beautiful flowers lasted so long.

15 houseplants that will improve your indoor air quality

Spider plant
Spider plant

For all of its exploration of the galaxy, the space program has accrued many benefits right here on earth. Thanks to NASA, we know that houseplants can purify the air in our homes and workplaces.
NASA originally focused on finding ways to purify the air in orbiting space stations. A 1973 space mission identified 107 volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that were emitted by the synthetic materials inside the spacecraft. It was clear that tightly sealed buildings, whether orbiting in space or on the ground, could cause health problems.

Sick building syndrome

Back on earth, spurred by the energy crisis of the 1970s, the building industry focused on making old and new structures more energy efficient. Without intending to, they also paved the way for trapping pollutants – or what is often called “sick building syndrome.”
Three of the pollutants found in spacecraft – benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene – also are present in homes and offices, emitted by everything from building materials to furnishings to office equipment. Air-tight buildings conserve energy and reduce heating and cooling costs, but they also trap these pollutants.

NASA found that certain houseplants, because they are good at absorbing gases, could remove indoor pollutants. Researchers suggested using one potted plant per 100 square feet of home or office space to improve indoor air quality. One study found that philodendron, spider plant and golden pothos removed 80 percent of the formaldehyde that was introduced into a sealed chamber.

If you want to improve the air quality of your space, you might consider bringing home some of these commonly recommended plants:
1. Heartleaf philodendron
2. Elephant ear philodendron
3. Cornstalk dracaena
4. English ivy
5. Spider plant
6. Janet Craig dracaena
7.Warneckii dracaena
8.Weeping fig
9. Golden pothos
10. Peace lily
11. Selloum philodendron
12. Chinese evergreen
13. Bamboo or reed palm
14. Snake plant
15. Red-edged dracaena
Sources: sunsethillsfoliage.com, coopext.colostate.edu

To make your Christmas wreath last longer, hairspray is a perfect holiday hack

You can seal in the wreath’s moisture with hairspray.

For the holidays, the song says, you can’t beat home sweet home.

But while the sunshine of a friendly gaze can warm your heart, home also is where you can find practical solutions to Christmas complications.

Take hairspray, for instance.

You can spray it on nail polish to make it dry faster as you get ready for the office party, or on wrapped presents to make them glossy and stand out.

Our favorite holiday hack, however, is the power and punch hairspray can give to your Christmas wreath.

A wreath’s round shape and evergreen composition are why it is a symbol of eternal life. Evergreen trees have long been revered for their ability to survive winter.

Of course, even a fresh wreath will become dry over time. A cut Christmas tree will lose needles, but you can slow the process by giving it daily drinks of water.

That’s not possible with a wreath. Instead, you can seal in the wreath’s moisture with hairspray. It acts like glue and holds the needles on.

For best results and to avoid messes, spray the wreath outdoors before you hang it on a door, window or wall. Hang it on the outside of a door (it can get cooked if placed behind glass) and out of direct sunlight.

If you want to be happy in a million ways, the song says, for the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home.

Or hairspray.

Royer’s presents American Red Cross with 3,600 cards for area service members and veterans

Among the 450 coloring pages submitted were many downloaded from Royer’s Flowers & Gifts’ website and some created from scratch.

“Thank you for your service,” read one handwritten page adorned with hearts and flowers.

And then there were the printed holiday cards, numbering more than 3,600.

On Tuesday, Royer’s presented the cards and coloring pages to the American Red Cross for distribution to area service members and veterans.

Royer’s, which has participated in the Red Cross “Holidays for Heroes” program for a decade, collected the cards from the public in each of its stores throughout November.

Poinsettia Facts & Tips for this Christmas and Next

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.

Did You Know?

  • The colored parts of poinsettias aren’t flowers but bracts (leaves).
  • 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.

Poinsettia Care

Keeping your poinsettia looking great this Christmas takes two easy steps, but did you know with a few more steps you can have a wonderful poinsettia next Christmas as well?

This Christmas

  • When the surface of the soil is dry to the touch, water the plant.
  • Keep the poinsettia in a room with temperatures between 60 and 72 degrees. Keep the plant out of hot and cold drafts, such as those from a heating vent or open door.

Next Christmas

  • When leaves begin to drop, let dry slightly between watering.
  • In late spring (early May) cut back plant to 6 inches, shake free of soil and repot in new potting soil, then resume regular watering. Fertilize with a 30-10-10 fertilizer twice monthly. Stop fertilizing November 1st until December 30th.
  • Place outdoors in a warm sunny location when the temperatures are consistently over 60 degrees.
  • Pinch the tips of new shoots when they reach 6 to 8 inches long until late July. Continue to fertilize every two weeks.
  • Bring indoors before cold nights (early September) and place indoors in full sun. Three to six hours of sunlight is needed.
  • In order for poinsettias to bloom, they must have 14 hours of uninterrupted darkness each day for 40 days (late September through October). Place in a dark place such as a closet or cover with a bag from early evening and remove the next morning so that the plant is in total darkness.
  • When #6 is followed, your poinsettia will bloom at Christmas, but remember, it only takes 10 minutes of light per day during the time it was dark and your plant won’t bloom until January or February.

Royer’s Flowers donates $11,400 to six area women’s causes

Royer’s Flowers & Gifts has donated $11,400 to six organizations in support of women’s causes.

Family-owned Royer’s earmarks $10 from every sale of its Admiration arrangement for these donations.

This year’s recipients and the amount of their awards: Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, $2,500; YWCA York, $2,500; Water Street Mission, Lancaster, $2,500;

Women in Need Inc., Chambersburg, $1,500; Girls Who Code Central PA, $1,350; Girls Who Code Berks County, $1,050.

“This year, Royer’s is celebrating the 85th anniversary of our founding by my grandmother Hannah Royer,” said Tom Royer, president and CEO of Royer’s Flowers. “Mom Royer, as she was known, is our daily inspiration and a symbol of the importance and value of empowering girls and women.

“Our loyal customers make these contributions possible, for which we are grateful. Congratulations to this year’s recipients for the meaningful work they do.”

Royer’s Flowers thanking veterans Nov. 11 with free red, white and blue bouquets

Royer’s Flowers & Gifts will show its appreciation to military veterans by giving them free patriotic bouquets on Nov. 11.

The bouquets – featuring a red carnation, a white carnation and a blue bow – will be available in-store only at each of Royer’s 16 locations in Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.

“We’re grateful for the dedication and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces,” said Tom Royer, president and CEO of family-owned Royer’s. “It’s our honor to recognize veterans in this way.”

Non-veterans may purchase the bouquets for $2.20 each.

For more information about Royer’s, including store addresses and hours, visit royers.com.

Royer’s collecting cards and coloring pages for ‘Holidays for Heroes’ in November

Royer’s Flowers & Gifts will collect holiday cards and coloring pages for service members and veterans throughout November as the company continues its decade-long affiliation with the American Red Cross “Holidays for Heroes” program.

Items may be dropped off at any Royer’s store during normal business hours. Free coloring pages can be downloaded at royers.com.

The Red Cross offers these guidelines for preparing cards:

  • Use generic salutations: “Dear Service Member” or “Dear Veteran”
  • Be thoughtful with messages, expressing reasons why you are thankful for the service members/veterans; if you have a personal connection, such as a family member who served, consider adding that
  • Try not to be overtly religious, but messages such as “Merry Christmas” or “God Bless You” are acceptable
  • Do not include inserts such as glitter, photos, business cards
  • Do not include personal information such as telephone number, address or email
  • Sign your name

Royer’s at 85: Four generations

Profitability, efficiency, marketing, each would get its say in the 500 pages to come.

But Ken Royer was unequivocal from the opening sentence of his book, “Retailing Flowers Profitably,” as to its true focus.

“This is a story of a family business,” he wrote.

Ken, whose parents, Hannah and Lester, started Royer’s Flowers when it was called South Side Flower Shop, noted that his first experience with growing plants came soon after the family’s 1937 move from downtown Lebanon to what was then the edge of town. He was 6. His sister was two years older; his brother, six years younger.

“The move to the new home provided almost an acre of land that we could use for gardening; thus my involvement with plants and flowers,” Ken wrote.

As Royer’s marks 85 years in business in 2022, the company remains a family business. What’s more, it has achieved the remarkably rare feat of reaching a fourth generation of family involvement.

How rare? The average life span of a family-owned business is 24 years, according to the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University. Just getting to a second generation of family involvement is a significant achievement, as only 40 percent of businesses achieve that.

Then things get really tough. A third generation: only 13 percent of family-owned businesses get there, and only 3 percent of businesses reach a fourth generation or beyond.

Except for a three-year period (1998 to 2001) when Royer’s was part of the Gerald Stevens national chain, the Royer family has owned the company. Even during the Gerald Stevens era, Ken and son Greg were involved at the corporate level while son Tom oversaw Royer’s operations.

The silver lining – or Christmas present, given the time of year — to Gerald Stevens’ demise was the subject of a cover story in the Dec. 12, 2001 Lebanon Daily News. The headline heralded, “Royers buy back flower shops.” (The deal also included the opportunity to enter Ohio with Connells Maple Lee.)

Greg, Tom and brother Mike appeared in a photo surrounded by poinsettias at the Lebanon store.

“We’re obviously thrilled to have it back,” Greg Royer said at the time. “There’s a picture of growth in the future.”
Growth for the business, but also opportunity for more family members to arrive on the scene and help lead the company into the 21st century.

Greg’s sons Andrew and Geoff are active in day-to-day management; their brother Gregory was a store manager. Tom’s oldest daughter, Layla, worked for the company when she was in high school and college while his youngest children, Tommy, Sumer and Brooke, help out on weekends, holidays and summers.

That story about a family business that Ken described has more chapters to come.

Royer’s at 85: Giving back


This is part of a series of occasional blog posts about important events in Royer’s history as the company marks its 85th anniversary in 2022.
In fall 2021, Royer’s Flowers & Gifts donated $7,250 to six women’s charities in central and eastern Pennsylvania.
“My grandmother Hannah Royer started our company,” said Tom Royer, president and CEO of Royer’s. “Our family has a keen appreciation for the vital role that women play in our families and communities and for the importance of encouraging female empowerment.”
But Royer’s charitable giving has boosted many causes through the years, also supporting families and animals, honoring veterans and active-duty military, boosting child literacy and fighting hunger.
Here’s a closer look at some of those efforts in just the past two decades:

Women’s charities

It began with an arrangement called Power of Pink, now known as Admiration and available year-round. For each arrangement sold, Royer’s donates $10 to women’s charities, including organizations such as the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, YWCA, Dress for Success, Junior League and Girls Who Code. To date, total contributions surpass $25,000.

Bouquets for Books

After introducing the Royer’s Kid Club, Royer’s launched an annual children’s book drive to benefit public libraries in its market area. Donors received a free bouquet for the books they contributed. In its 13-year run, Bouquets for Books collected nearly 19,000 books.

Royer’s Stems Hunger

This food drive collected more than 1,100 pounds in each of its 10 years (2011-2020), for a total of nearly nine tons for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and local food banks in the Royer’s market area. Stems Hunger took place during the summer, which is a particularly vulnerable time for childhood hunger because school food programs are not available.

Puppy in a Basket/Kitten in a Basket

One of Royer’s newest charitable efforts centers on the year-round sale of two arrangements featuring a plush dog or cat. A portion of the proceeds benefits area animal shelters. To kick off the program in 2021, Royer’s sent $100 checks to 10 area animal organizations.

Veterans Day

Each year, Royer’s honors U.S. military veterans by giving them free red, white and blue bouquets at each of its stores.
“This is one of our favorite annual traditions,” Tom said in 2021. “These men and women, along with their families, make great sacrifices while serving our country. It’s our privilege to honor our veterans.”

Holidays for Heroes

Since 2013, Royer’s stores have collected tens of thousands of holiday cards and coloring pages for service members and veterans as part of the American Red Cross’ “Holidays for Heroes” program.

‘OUR PRIVILEGE TO GIVE BACK’

Like many businesses, Royer’s faced significant operating challenges at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. As Tom noted in a guest column for Pennlive, “We had a lot of family history and family future tied up in how we responded to COVID-19.”
But not only didn’t the pandemic cripple Royer’s, it has made it a more efficient and successful company than ever. That success contributed to some of Royer’s biggest charitable awards ever, including $15,000 to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in April 2021.
“We had to reinvent our company, and at times it was a painful process,” Tom said, alluding to the pandemic, “but our strong team’s dedication and hard work enabled us to come through this as a better company.
“It is our privilege to give back to our communities and help families that are struggling to put food on the table.”