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In The Bloom with Maria: Educate customers on flowers and plants that can be toxic to pets

In The Bloom with MarinaWhen it comes to our inventory, we can gush for hours about our flowers’ beauty, aroma, growing season, and ideal settings. Our knowledge as business owners is one of our best assets, and a true selling point for our customers.

With that knowledge also comes the obligation to share any risks that could occur with our products. Yes, the risks are limited when dealing with flora, but there are a few notable exceptions.

One of them is the possible danger certain plant species pose to pets. The most common flower/pet pairing that should not interact are Easter lilies and cats. However, there are other types of plants that shouldn’t be exposed to pets.

With Easter behind us, we don’t need to worry about Easter lilies for the time being, but consider the holiday flowers and plants that will be ordered in the coming months, such as:

  • Amaryllis
  • Holly
  • Mistletoe
  • Poinsettia
  • Pine

These holiday flowers and plants can be toxic to both dogs and cats. For reference, the ASPCA features a list of poisonous substances for pets.

Alerting customers

When getting orders for Easter Lilies and the other plants listed above, ask your customers if they have pets or, if the plants are being offered to someone else, if the recipients of the plants have pets. If so, explain the potential risks. But don’t just offer a warning that might result in a lost sale. Be prepared to offer alternative purchase options.

You should also make these risks aware to your in-store customers or online shoppers. The Society of American Florists (SAF) suggests verbiage along these lines (this example is for lilies):

The National Animal Poison Control Center says certain types of lilies can
cause renal failure in cats that have ingested any part of the lily. We recommend keeping lilies out of the reach of cats. It is important to note that lilies do not pose a problem for other pets or humans.

Another possibility would be to include this information with each accompanying order of plants or flowers that could be of concern, as referenced by the ASPCA, Humane Society, or others.

Helping to educate your customers helps them keep their pets safe and helps you practice due diligence.

If you have further questions regarding communicating potential hazards to your customers, contact your Hortica agent.

Related links:

For more information on safety preparation for your business, check out the Hortica Resources section.