Floral in Senior Living Series – Fake vs. Real

Floral Arrangements

When it comes to florals, most of us probably prefer real to fake. But there are certain situations where real is not an option due to budget or maintenance concerns, and although faux florals have come a LONG way from what I remember pulling out of communities at the beginning of my career (hello, dusty English ivy!) There are still many factors to consider. Let’s dig a little deeper into each:

  • Expense
    • Faux: Realism in faux florals is definitely a ‘get what you pay for’ scenario. Less expensive faux components are often mass-produced overseas with little oversight of quality. In succulents, you can see the lines where the molds came apart. In florals, there may be fraying on the edges of the petals. But high-quality faux florals will have you doing a double-take as to whether they are real or not.
    • Real: Real florals need regular replacement, whether that is by someone in the community or a service who maintains them. The frequency will depend on the flower or plant type, along with environmental factors like humidity and temperature. Cost will depend on quantities, what types of florals you are purchasing, and if you are buying with seasonality or against. 
  • Maintenance
    • Faux: Faux florals are NOT maintenance free. The components need to be wiped clean of dust and debris monthly with a damp cloth. Larger arrangements should be checked for trash – you would not believe how many people put garbage in flowerpots! But on the upside, you need not worry about adequate light and humidity. This article shares great tips on how to clean artificial plants. 
    • Real: Plants need to be properly watered and fertilized, as well as kept in the recommended amount of sunlight for the species. For cut floral arrangements, that means changing the water out daily.
  • Effectiveness 
    • This is where real florals win hand over fist. Research has shown that fresh flowers lowered stress levels of the sympathetic nervous system (aka fight or flight) and left participants relaxed, comfortable, and natural when compared to the effects of artificial flowers.
  • Environmental considerations
    • Faux: The main component that makes up most faux plants and florals is that dirty word, plastic. Once an arrangement has lived its useful life, it may end up in a donation bin or in a landfill, where it will probably not break down for a LONG time. And plants that are shipped from overseas create a much larger carbon footprint.
    • Real: Natural plant material breaks down easily and turns right back into dirt. Some species also act as a filter and improve indoor air quality. However, if you are not purchasing your floral and plants from local growers, your carbon footprint is going to be larger.
  • Safety
    • Whether you use faux and real florals, make sure they do not have any components like sticks or rough pieces that could cause skin tears or other injuries (we lovingly call these ‘eye pokers’). In dementia care communities, we also need to stay away from anything that looks edible if it is not truly edible. So in faux plants, that means no berries or fake fruit. 
    • Real: Heavily fragrant florals, like gardenia, lily of the valley, and sweet pea, should be avoided. Heavy pollinators, such as chrysanthemums, daisies, baby’s breath, also should be avoided due to potential allergy issues – not to mention that pollen is not fun to clean up. Thebelow florals are toxic if eaten, and should be avoided in communities where this could be an issue:
  • Amaryllis
  • Anemone
  • Calla lily
  • Christmas holly
  • Daffodil
  • Delphinium
  • Foxglove
  • Holly berries
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangea
  • Iris
  • Ivy
  • Laurel
  • Lily of the valley
  • Mistletoe
  • Morning glory
  • Primrose
  • Rhododendron
  • Tulip
  • Wisteria

 

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