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.
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?
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.
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 & 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 & 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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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.”
When she first learned how to use email through her local library, Karen Good said, she was told to select three words for her address that represented things she liked.
One of them was “rose,” which reflects her affinity for flowers.
Good, of Mount Joy, Lancaster County, now has good reason to be fond of carnations and daisy poms, too.
She won this year’s Royer’s Flowers & Gifts name-the-arrangement contest. Her entry, “Harvest Beauty,” was chosen from nearly 900 online submissions.
The all-around arrangement features a ceramic pumpkin, measures 12 inches high and 10 inches wide, and comprises carnations and daisy poms in fall colors.
Good said she sought divine inspiration for her entry.
“Now Lord,” she said, “what would you call that? It’s beautiful.”
Good and runner-up Janet Adams of Columbus, Ohio, will receive one of the arrangements as their prizes. Adams submitted “Blooming Pumpkin” through Royer’s sister company, Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts, which has three Columbus-area stores.
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.
The internet is so entrenched in our lives that it’s easy to forget that only a generation ago everything was new. Online access was mostly via dial-up service using phone lines. The term “blog” hadn’t yet been coined.
And you may not know that Royer’s Flowers pioneered online marketing within the floral industry and was among the first Internet providers in central Pennsylvania.
Kevin Laicha had joined Royer’s in 1984 to provide support in the areas of accounting and computers. In 1993, he hired Scott Curtin, a Lebanon native who was studying computers at Carnegie Mellon University.
Carnegie Mellon was an early player on the internet, which began as a Department of Defense project. Ostensibly hired to clean and maintain computers, Curtin steered Royer’s to acquire an Internet connection through the university.
Selling to the public
In 1994, Royer’s created a new company – Nothing But Net – to get a foothold in the burgeoning online world. To cover the cost of connecting each of its stores and leveraging its computer server capacity, in 1996 Royer’s, through NBN, began selling internet service to the public.
“So that was all we thought: we’ll just get 100 users to offset the cost,” said Laicha, who was president of NBN, which operated from Quentin Circle Shopping Center in Lebanon. Before long, NBN had 3,000 customers paying $19.99 per month for unlimited online access.
NBN built Royer’s first website around 1996; at the time, Laicha recalled, 1-800-Flowers was the only other florist online. NBN’s profits paid for Royer’s ads on Yahoo!, then itself a nascent search engine. Orders flowed in from all over the world.
Another offshoot of the NBN/Royer’s partnership was the development of Flowerlink, an internet-based flower-ordering service that grew to a membership of some 1,000 flower shops around the world.
Royer’s eventually sold NBN to a Lebanon County competitor, Lebanon MobileFone, to focus on its core floral business. But Royer’s maintained an internet division and a strong presence in the digital world while growing its brick-and-mortar stores.
Royer’s today attributes more than half of its annual revenue to online sales.
Candy corn is so popular that it seems to arrive in grocery stores earlier every year.
Royer’s Flowers & Gifts’ annual name-the-arrangement contest is getting a head start on fall, too.
The new all-around arrangement features a ceramic pumpkin, measures 12 inches high and 10 inches wide and comprises carnations and daisy poms in fall colors.
To enter the contest, visit royers.com/contest. Limit one entry daily per email address, through Aug. 12.
One winner and one runner-up will be selected from entries received by Connells Maple Lee and its sister company in Pennsylvania. Both the winner and runner-up will receive one of the arrangements (retail value $36.99) as their prize.