A Complete Guide to Sending Mother's Day Flowers for Less

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FLOWERS FOR MOM

The tradition of gifting flowers goes back thousands of years. The ancient Greeks associated flowers with gods, and in modern times, studies have shown that flowers have a positive effect on people. Flowers can bring cheer to your day, improve productivity at work, and telegraph "I love you" or even "I'm sorry." As Mother's Day approaches, it's worth noting that it beats out Valentine's Day as the second most popular holiday for flower giving, according to the Society of American Florists. And this gives rise to two common questions: Where to order flowers, and which type of flowers?

WHERE TO BUY FLOWERS

In a comparison of major flower delivery services, Cheapism.com found that you're better off going directly to a florist rather than ordering through online delivery services. The number of complaints lodged against the ecommerce sites is significant. In posted reviews, frustrated consumers related a host of negative experiences with customer service call centers and wrote about representatives who more often seemed "on script" rather than helpful. The lack of sympathy or understanding when there was a problem with a delivery was another common gripe.

CALL A LOCAL FLORIST

During interviews with flower shop owners, Cheapism learned that the orders florists receive through services like FTD and 1800Flowers.com often get low priority. Because the shop owners must share a portion of the profits with the referring company and often must stock specific vases or decorations bought from the company, they admit to doing only as much as required. With orders placed by the consumer directly, they said, they may take a little extra time arranging the bouquet or include extra flowers; special service is not guaranteed, however.

TRY STARTUPS FOR ONLINE ORDERS

Several new players in the online flower delivery space may shake things up. The Bouqs, which made a splash on the TV show Shark Tank last year, and Bloom Nation are two contenders. Both have attracted strong reviews for customer service, although complaints still surface about receiving the wrong bouquet or flowers that wilt after a couple of days.

WHICH FLOWERS TO ORDER

Preferred flower types are always a personal call, but certain holidays and occasions seem to pair well with certain types of flowers. On a birthday send the recipient's favorite flowers; for funerals a white bouquet is recommended; and on Mother's Day pink or orange arrangements with several roses, or roses only, are popular. Demand for flowers spikes during holidays, sending prices skyrocketing, so you certainly want your money's worth. Take a peek at the following flowers, which are comparatively budget friendly and should continue to brighten the recipient's day for at least a couple of weeks.

ALSTROEMERIAS

More widely known as the Peruvian lily, alstroemerias symbolize good fortune and wealth, and are often associated with friendship. Commonly pink, orange, purple, or white, alstroemerias can live for up to three weeks.

CARNATIONS

The "Flowers of God," the five-petal carnation can be found in several varieties. There are large single-flower stems, mini carnations with many smaller flowers, and dwarf carnations with a few flowers per stem. Carnations are available in several colors, each with its own meaning, and can last up to three weeks with proper care.

CHRYSANTHEMUMS

With one of the longest vase lives of any flower, chrysanthemums keep going for up to 30 days. To achieve such longevity, you'll need to refresh the water and trim the stem a bit each day (start with a long stem).

ECHINACEA

A runner-up in a test conducted by the British seed company Johnsons, echinacea flowers lasted 22 days. The prickly-looking center of the flower is surrounded by outreaching petals, which come in a variety of colors. The flower, stem, and root are also used in many herbal remedies.

ORCHIDS

Although orchids can be pricy, a single bloom says a lot. You can choose to keep the stem on and add some "filler" plants to make a beautiful arrangement or float the flower in water for a simple display. The flowers usually last two to three weeks.

ZINNIAS

The bushy and lively zinnia performed best when seed firm Johnsons compared the vase life of 11 flowers. Researchers were surprised to find that after 17 days the flowers looked as good as new. Zinnias bloom in a variety of bright colors, including pink, yellow, purple, white, orange, blue, and red.

PROPER CARE

Although a florist or delivery service can sometimes be blamed for flowers that don't last, much of the responsibility lies with the recipient. Be sure to cut the stems, fill the vase with cool water and flower food, and place the flowers inside right away. Reader's Digest suggests a few other additives that promote flower longevity: sugar, apple cider vinegar, soda, aspirin, and vodka. Each either feeds the flowers or kills off unwanted bacteria. Changing the water every few days is also important to flower preservation.

Louis DeNicola

Louis DeNicola is a freelance personal finance writer who specializes in credit, debt, and practical money-saving tips. He loves stacking savings opportunities to get amazing deals, traveling for free using credit card rewards, and teaching others how to do the same. Connect with Louis by visiting louisdenicola.com.

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