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Dispel The Poinsettia Toxicity Myth

Posted by Rick Canale on Thu, Dec 03, 2020


From Our Colleagues at The Society of American Florists:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — December 2, 2020 — The poinsettia is the quintessential Christmas plant. However, many consumers (namely, pet owners and parents of young children) shy away from it because of the belief that it can endanger a loved one.
Set the record straight on this longstanding myth: The poinsettia is the most widely tested plant and has been proven to be non-toxic. Research trials at Ohio State University revealed that a pet or child would need to ingest more than 500 leaves to become seriously ill. (That said, poinsettias are a decoration and should be kept out of reach of children and animals prone to munching on foreign objects.)
About SAF
The Society of American Florists is the only national trade association that represents all segments of the U.S. floral industry. SAF provides government advocacy, education and marketing advice; and connects industry members who want to learn, share ideas and grow; helps the industry recruit and retain talent; and provides guidance to the industry to prepare for and navigate the future. The association was chartered by an act of Congress in 1884. To learn more about SAF or to join, visit

Tags: Poinsettia, SAF, Society of American Florists, Holiday Decor

Adding a Green Plant To Your Home Office Is Better for Your Health

Posted by Rick Canale on Tue, May 12, 2020

'Looking at green foliage can enhance creativity, increase calmness, lessen irritability, and restore mental energy. Researchers found that indoor plants prevent fatigue during demanding work.' Men's Health Magazine


Text below from Workplace Productivity Study:

Texas A&M: Flowers & Plants Promote Innovation, Ideas

In today’s economy, it is more important than ever for businesses to gain the competitive edge. Constant fluctuations in unemployment, productivity, consumer confidence and other major economic factors make it imperative for businesses to implement the right strategies to stay ahead of their competition.

According to business experts, the key to gaining the competitive edge in the modern economy is easy to understand – a happy, productive workforce. And, while sometimes the easiest notions can be the most difficult to achieve, a scientific study conducted at Texas A&M University finds that nature can hold the secret to business success. The research demonstrates that workers’ idea generation, creative performance and problem solving skills improve substantially in workplace environments that include flowers and plants.

“Our research shows that a change as simple as adding flowers and plants can be important in the most meaningful way to businesses in the modern economy,” said Dr. Roger Ulrich, lead researcher on the project. “People’s productivity, in the form of innovation and creative problem solving, improved – which in certain circumstances could mean the difference between mild and great business success.”

Research Findings: Overall and Men vs. Women

In an eight-month study, the Texas A&M University research team explored the link between flowers and plants and workplace productivity. Participants performed creative problem solving tasks in a variety of common office environments, or conditions. The conditions included a workplace with flowers and plants, a setting with sculpture and an environment with no decorative embellishments.

During the study, both women and men demonstrated more innovative thinking, generating more ideas and original solutions to problems in the office environment that included flowers and plants. In these surroundings, men who participated in the study generated 15% more ideas. And, while males generated a greater abundance of ideas, females generated more creative, flexible solutions to problems when flowers and plants were present.

“We know the importance of learning, for example, how natural surroundings affect drivers, school children, and hospital patients,” said Ulrich, who has conducted extensive research on the effects of environments on psychological well-being, stress and health. “To businesses, it should be equally as important to understand what features can improve performance at work and make employees more productive.”



Researchers at Texas A&M University recruited 101 participants to take part in The Impact of Flowers and Plants on Workplace Productivity study. During the eight-month scientific study, participants took part in emotional, creativity and attentional demand protocols, in conditions that were carefully controlled, yet were similar to those in many office workplaces. Subjects were asked to perform a series of tasks in one of three environmental office conditions, selected at random: with fresh flowers and plants; with abstract sculpture; or with no embellishments at all. Throughout each session, subjects self-rated their moods four times, executed two creativity tasks and completed one attentional demand test. Researchers measured the number of ideas participants generated, their ideas’ originality and flexibility, and other responses, using data extracted from the tests, which included Torrance Tests of the Creative Thinking and Profile of Mood States.

The research lends weight to growing scientific evidence that flowers and plants, as well as other aspects of nature, have a beneficial impact on state of mind and emotions. The Society of American Florists worked in cooperation with the Texas A&M University research team, bringing an expertise of flowers and plants to the project.

About the Researcher

The Impact of Flowers and Plants on Workplace Productivity Study was conducted by Roger Ulrich, Ph.D., Behavioral Scientist, Director of the Center for Health Systems and Design, Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Dr. Ulrich is a professor of landscape architecture and is an internationally recognized expert on the influences of surroundings on human well-being and health. His interests concern applications of environment-behavior knowledge to healthcare buildings, landscape architecture and urban design.


Tags: Boston Greenhouse, SAF, Plants, Stress

Exotic Flowers Boston Joins Nationwide Effort to ‘Petal It Forward’

Posted by Rick Canale on Wed, Oct 24, 2018

Local Business Spreads Smiles and Stress Relief, Two Bouquets at a Time


Roslindale, MA, (October 24, 2018)– Today, Exotic Flowers is joining floral industry businesses in more than 400 cities nationwide to surprise unsuspecting passersby in Roslindale with two free flower bouquets each – one to keep and one to give to a friend, family member, colleague, or even a stranger. The random-acts-of-kindness effort -- called Petal It Forward and organized by the Society of American Florists (SAF), of which Exotic Flowers is a member -- is designed to help people start their day with more smiles and less stress. The effort illustrates new research from the University of North Florida (UNF) that shows living with flowers reduces stress.


“Petal It Forward is the floral industry’s way of giving back,” said Jennifer Sparks, SAF’s Vice President of Marketing, citing the nationwide effort was purposefully planned for a Wednesday to help the mid-week slump. Rick Canale of Exotic Flowers wanted to be a part of the nationwide mood-boosting effort, and make a difference in the community. “We have been in this location for 88 years and we want to help make someone's day in the community,” said Canale. “Through the positive effects of flowers, we hope to make someone’s day brighter, and provide a much-needed moment of calm amidst the hectic pace of life,” he added.


The research findings on flowers and stress relief, and the need for mood-boosting gestures, seem timely: A survey by Wakefield Research in July showed that 68 percent of Americans experience stress weekly, and 32 percent report feeling stressed daily. Women are even more affected, with 25 percent reporting feeling stress multiple times a day.


Canale says the original idea behind Petal It Forward’s ‘keep one, share one’ concept, which started in 2015, came after looking at statistics that showed while 80 percent of people reported receiving flowers makes them happy, even more (88 percent) said that giving flowers makes them happy. “We want to give people the chance to experience both,” said Canale. 


In addition to the new research on stress, previous behavioral studies conducted by Rutgers and Harvard scientifically demonstrate the positive impact flowers have on emotional well-being. For information on the effects of flowers on stress research, visit For research on all of the health benefits of flowers, visit

Tags: SAF, Society of American Florists, Flowers for Emotional Health, petal it forward

What Adding a Weekly Floral Account Can Do for Your Business

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Oct 04, 2017

If you’re a small business owner in the New England area, you already know it’s the personal touches conveyed through your goods and services that keeps a company in healthy territory.  Dependability, efficiency and cost effectiveness are all important factors management must keep constantly in mind to survive the dips and growth spurts of the US economy.  When there is a noticeable decrease in a business’s profits, it’s imperative to take a step back and come up with a plan for what could be done differently.  Many times, there are simple tweaks that can be implemented to increase the bottom line and just as importantly, raise the bar for clientele satisfaction.  While some proprietors decide to invest in expensive décor or pricey marketing materials that may not show the return as expected, others have chosen to lift their company’s presentation in a clever, less expensive way…


Data supports the fact that adding a weekly flower account to your store or office creates a significant difference in several impertinent areas.  For starters, as potential customers enter your shop to browse your selection, they are instantly greeted with a warm welcome that says, “I want your experience here to be one that you remember.”  A bloom’s natural features such as texture, scent and color all positively influence the mass majority of our population’s attitudes which can only bring greater chances for business prosperity.  Another truth to adding florals to your budget is that a pretty arrangement can also increase employee performance as well.  When you make the workplace a happier, more pleasant setting, those who work for you will also experience a better mindset that will likely affect their ability within sales and service responsibilities.  So, you see, it’s a win-win situation all the way around.    

Now that I’ve got your attention and you’re ready to contact the local florist to help set up an account, you might be wondering what are some good options to choose from?  Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend a fortune to add a vase of buds to your business setting.  Adding flora and fauna can be as simple as purchasing a plant or a single stem of roses.  Whatever you budget allows for, there are numerous ways to go about this so don’t get flustered.  These are some top choices that create a beautiful look, plus they won’t break the bank in the process.

Peace Lilies are great plants to invest in, particularly if you do not desire a strong-smelling flower.  Just water once a week and they should stay healthy for a long period of time.  If you want a brighter impact, ask for a 6’’ bubble bowl filled with seasonal cut flowers or request an architecturally interesting design of calla lilies to really display an eye-catching piece.

Tags: SAF, Society of American Florists, Flowers for Emotional Health

A Look into Your Floral Personality

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Aug 14, 2017

People who buy flowers are after a multitude of different things…  One possible is that they love bright colors and another may be the aromatherapy they seek from the scent.  Customers buy flowers to add décor to their homes, to impress clientele when they enter an office and some will even order a bouquet to attract a suitor.  There are a zillion different scenarios to match this question, which is why Boston florists continue to brainstorm new ways to attract shoppers by implementing creative marketing techniques.


photo credit via

If you can believe it, numerous studies have taken place to match personality traits to floral taste, basing the equation on factors such as educational background, age, hobbies, financial brackets, geographical locations and even the propensity one has to use either the left or right side of the brain.  This last factor might make you stop and think about things for a moment but yes-it is true a person can have a floral preference that directly connects to their individual cranial activity.  Sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it?

In fact, those who use their left side more frequently are apt to be attracted to presentations, which satisfy a mathematical sequence or in floral terms, an architecturally driven piece.  What does this mean?  It means that this segment of the population relies on stimulation that is motivated by factors such as height, balance and symmetry.  Examples of this can be found in centerpieces created with orchids, branches and simple foliage.  Bamboo is a huge seller within this niche as well as pussy willow, oncidium and birds of paradise.  The goal for this type of design is “less is more” as well as a hidden underlying meaning, which is created by the artist.  If this style is right up your alley, take look at these arrangements that can be readily made available by your local city florist.

Tags: SAF, Floral Studies, Design, About Flowers

The Healing Power of Flowers for Winter Blues

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Nov 18, 2016

I’ll admit it.  This time of year is certainly not one of my favorites and there are several reasons why…

A).  I’m a warm-blooded soul who despises snow and ice.

B).  Traveling becomes tricky with bad road conditions forcing us to become  hermits for most of the season- another personality trait I’m missing.



This last one is enough to depress any blossom lover because the fact remains that there are no wild flowers looming outside in the gardens.  Everything is frozen, stuck to the ground with no life signs what so ever.  I miss the days of carrying bundles of stems with petals scented with pure sweetness and arranging them in vases throughout my home. Did they make my house look pretty and smell good?  Absolutely, but there’s more to this than mere home decorating…

 healing powers of flowers.jpg

It is a scientific fact that flowers have the power to elevate our moods, particularly when we are feeling at our lowest.  All of the senses play a part, including the way a flower smells, its texture, color and arrangement with other species.  Our minds are positively enhanced the moment we set eyes on a bouquet and eventually we learn to connect this sensation of happiness with flowers in general.  So when the weather turns chillier and we lose our stimulation from outdoor gardening and growing, we have to make a conscious effort to seek them out elsewhere.  Contacting your local florist is the best way to solve this problem or you can even begin with indoor seeds such as marigolds and nasturtiums.   They’ll be fun to watch sprout and you’ll have pretty blooms flowering through the coldest months of the year.


Scientific Facts Supporting the Psychological Benefits of Flowers


  1. Flowers arranged in areas such as entryways and foyers are symbolic of the meaning of sharing.  Guests who enter a building and are greeted by a fresh bouquet of flowers on the table react to this by feeling welcomed. 

  2. Flowers are a wonderful gift to a loved one because it actually works as an aphrodisiac.  The gesture can build strong emotions of intimacy and likely bring two people physically closer together.


Photo credit via

Flowers open windows to creativity and often encourage a person’s imagination when exposed to flowers on a regular basis.  Some of our greatest artists of all time like Van Gogh surrounded him self regularly with flowers in order to find inspiration for his work.


Tags: Rutgers Floral Study, SAF, Society of American Florists, Flowers for Emotional Health

Boston Shop Ditches 'Can I Help You?' for 'Go Pats!'

Posted by Rick Canale on Mon, Oct 31, 2016

The following article appeared in the SAF Sales Wake Up ! on Saturday, October 29th 2016.

By Mary Westbrook
In Boston, Rick Canale has found a new way to solve the ongoing challenge of helping staff members connect quickly with customers in an authentic way: sweatshirts.

Earlier this week Canale handed out hooded sweatshirts to his employees at Exotic Flowers. On the back, each shirt has the word "Flowers" and the number "98"— both a reference to New England Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers, whose name is too perfect for Canale to resist.

patriots flowers.jpg

At Exotic Flowers in Boston, employees don a sweatshirt featuring the name of a favorite New England Patriots player — who's last name happens to be flowers — as a way to create connection with customers.

"This visual statement sends a message to customers," Canale said. "It not only opens a dialogue with clients to show common interests, but it shows that we are not just the 'florist behind the counter.' We have similar likes and dislikes."

That personalization is no small thing. According to the research firm Gartner, 64 percent of people say customer experience is more important to their purchasing decisions than price.

In addition to keeping staff warm, the sweatshirts have injected an immediate dose of personality into customer interactions. (Imagine a big smile and shared "Go Pats!" compared to the far less memorable and often ineffective sales approach "can I help you?") 

"It is just another piece that personalizes our relationship with customers," said Canale.

Canale has also taken the flowers/flowers love beyond the physical store, interacting with the football player on social media.

"He has re-tweeted our support to his fan base, which is an added bonus," Canale said.

And Canale says that florists in other metro areas who want to copy the easy conversation-starter have options, too.

"There are many pro and college athletes with the last name Flowers," he said. "Tyler Flowers is a catcher for the Atlanta Braves. Brandon Flowers is on the San Diego Chargers and Marquis Flowers plays for the Cincinnati Bengals." 


Read more about why "can I help you" is ineffective and get 25 ideas for alternative phrasing. 

Tags: NFL, SAF, Society of American Florists, Patriots, Trey Flowers

Flower Inspired Facebook Posts

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Aug 12, 2016

Facebook is the number #1 leading social media site, propelling millions upon millions of account users to post updates, share links and upload photos that reflect their everyday life and interests.  If you’re reading this, your probably one of us and understands this as pretty much a truth pertaining to your daily routine.  Checking in, “liking” or even just casually scrolling down the feed, browsing our “friends” pages has become a way to keep in touch and pass along ideas and feelings that affect us and the world we live in.  This new form of communication efficiently links us together, forming one big network of information.  Plus- it’s a lot of fun, too!

So what does this have to do with a blog dedicated to flowers?


Recently I came across a post by a friend that featured a picture and a lovely saying, decorated with illustrated pink poppies.  The message simply read, “AND the DAY CAME when the risk to remain in a TIGHT BUD was more painful than the RISK it took to BLOSSOM.”  


Sweet, right?  The point of the quote is straight forward enough which conveys encouragement to the take leaps to grow because the fear of doing so becomes more hurtful to stay the same than the bravery do go ahead and try.  


I love it.  The post did exactly what it was meant to do and that was to give me the little extra boost I may have needed for the day.  So if you’re one of the many faithful Facebook users who are into this sort of thing, here are a few more inspiring thoughts thematic after flowers!


Tags: Language of Flowers, SAF, Flowers, About Flowers, Facebook, Inspiration

World Cup Flower Flop? Not So Fast, Says Boston Florist

Posted by Rick Canale on Sat, Jun 21, 2014

This article was featured in the 6/18/14 The SAF Wednesday Ebrief

By Mary Westbrook

Exotic Flowers in Boston recently launched its “Cooperstown Collection”— a partnership with The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. Owner Rick Canale, who has also been the official florist for the Red Sox, said sports tie-ins, done well, have lots of marketing potential. 

Bloggers in the U.K. are giving a red card to a supermarket chain that tried to capitalize on World Cup fever with a special bouquet — but at least one sports-savvy florist in Boston said the idea has the potential to hit plenty of marketing goaaals. 

Calling the “Come On, England” bouquet concept “painful,” several bloggers put the red and white carnation design, sold at Morrisons grocery stores, at the top of their “worst” lists for World Cup tie-ins. 

“Suddenly, a [groveling] apology from the other half for their latest screw-up just isn’t as gratifying as it used to be,” according to EuroSport. “Alternatively, it’s a rather backhanded way for a guy to [apologize] in advance for spending the next month doing nothing but watching football marathons and angrily debating contentious decisions on social media.” 

The chain also rain afoul of customers in Scotland, who successfully petitioned the stores there to stop playing an endless loop of England-related soccer — er, football —songs. 

Good intentions, lousy promotion? Not so fast, said Rick Canale of Exotic Flowers in Boston, who suggested the bloggers and writers are probably overreacting, and misinterpreting the grocers’ intentions. “I bet [Morrisons] did not sell the bouquet as an apology theme,” he said. “That would be floral suicide.” (At press time, EBrief editors had not been able to obtain the original marketing materials.) 

Canale should know. Exotic Flowers was the official florist of the Boston Red Sox from 2007 to 2009 and won SAF’s Floral Management Marketer of the Year title in 2008. He recently partnered with The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., to launch his new “Cooperstown Collection,” which coincides with the museum’s 75th anniversary. 

Canale said hitching your shop to a sports team or event can be marketing gold, but “it’s all about the approach.” In other words, never market a sports-themed design as an apology, but instead, promote it as a party idea or team-spirited host and hostess gift. When you do that well, you turn a non-floral event into an opportunity for your shop. 

“Believe me, if I liked soccer, I would be pitching World Cup bouquets here, too,” Canale said. “You have to capitalize on the success of special events. [For example], every Election Day, we launch an Election Day category on our website and then rebrand the same category for Veteran’s Day.” 

Tags: Red Sox Florist, Boston Florist, SAF, Rick Canale, Red Sox

The Society of American Florists Acknowledges Exotic Flowers

Posted by Rick Canale on Sat, Nov 16, 2013

Christmas FlowersEvery Saturday, the Society of American Florists (SAF) offers sales tips to floral industry professionals. This week, Katie Hendrick shares some holiday sales tips from Exotic Flowers in Boston.

Inexpensive Perks Keep Customers Merry

by Katie Hendrick
At Exotic Flowers in Boston, convenience and customer appreciation define the company's holiday marketing philosophy. We reached out to Rick Canale, owner of the 2008 Marketer of the Year-winning shop, for some tactics to get customers in the door and spending money, amidst all their other shopping activity.

Here are just a few of them:

  • Sell Christmas trees and wreaths to generate in-store traffic
  • Provide snacks – popcorn and candy canes – to keep tired shoppers in good spirits
  • Offer complimentary containers of hand sanitizer (to keep cold and flu germs at bay). The Exotic Flowers version has "Red Sox World Series Champions" emblazoned on it.
  • Send letters reminding customers of the previous year's holiday order with a personal letter. ("This gets great feedback," Canale said. "People appreciate reminders and they really love the personalization of the letter.")
  • Hand deliver poinsettias to top 100 clients.
  • Hand sign cards to top 200 clients.

Tags: SAF, Society of American Florists, Marketing, Christmas Wreaths, Christmas Trees, Christmas, Christmas Flowers

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