In this report
What you see vs. what you get

Beautiful blooms?

Last reviewed: May 2011

Thinking of thanking your favorite Mom with a Mother's Day bouquet? The results of our study show that the blooms she receives might bear little resemblance to the blooms you thought you bought.

Local flower shops vary across the nation, of course, so we ordered from three national florists that send at least some of their orders from central locations, which should let them control quality. Those three are,, and We chose roses, tulips, orchids, and mixed bouquets, for a total of 24 deliveries. We paid $57 to $87 for the flowers, optional vases, and assorted delivery charges.

When the flowers arrived at our headquarters, their first appointment was with our photography department, where they were arranged to resemble their website photo as closely as possible. (We had to eliminate a few deliveries that were delayed by a snowstorm.)

We then asked 16 people to compare the paired photos and judge how satisfied they'd be with the real bouquet, from thrilled to horrified. Judges were comparing the ad to reality, so what mattered was not how attractive a received arrangement was but how closely it matched what the buyer intended to send. We then crunched the judgments to determine the order of satisfaction.

Bottom line

In our small study, was best at sending what was ordered, followed by and The flowers most likely to look the way they did on websites were tulips, roses, and orchids. Mixed bouquets had more substitutions than the rest. If you want to make sure your flowers prompt a smile, pick a color scheme that matches your Mom's favorites, then steer away from mixed bouquets. If you're unhappy with what gets delivered, call customer service.