Your safest bet for ordering Mother's Day flowers online are tulips, roses or orchids. And avoid the mixed bouquets.
That's the advice from Consumer Reports which sampled different arrangements from several online florists.
First tip: Beware of mixed bouquets for sale on Web sites. According to Consumer Reports mixed bouquets are worth avoiding if shopping for your mother or any other loved one.
"Avoid ordering a mixed bouquet based on what we saw. It's least likely to look like what's pictured on the site," said Consumer Reports spokeswoman Melissa Valentino.
But, there's a reason mixed bouquets may not fare well when ordered online. "A lot of times the flowers are out of season or there's some type of trauma with the grower," says Rick Scott, the head designer of Greenworks at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. "The way to combat that is to say if we don't have [the flowers on the Web site to] use your second choice."
In a small study Consumer Reports ordered and evaluated roses, tulips, orchids and mixed bouquets from 1800Flowers.com, ProFlowers.com, FTD.com to find the merchant that did the most impressive job delivering what consumers ordered.
The judges were asked to offer an opinion from thrilled to horrified on photos of the actual deliveries that were arranged to resemble the images presented on the Web site.
The result: 1800Flowers.com won the top spot for places to shop for flowers that closely resembled the orders purchased online.
"It's difficult to know if it looks just as well in person as on the web site. It's a hit or miss," says Scott. "Tulips and roses are pretty much a sure bet. [However], when you go into specific types, such as Dutch tulips, French tulips, and van-dyke tulips, that's when you run into problems."
Whether ordering flowers for Mother's Day or any other special occasion, Consumer Reports recommends ordering tulips, roses and orchids for flowers that closely resemble the Web site.
Here are some of the results from Consumer Reports National Florists Delivery Survey:
1800Flowers.com The tulips from were chosen by the judges for "most satisfied" based on the image presented on the Web site. "Hooray! Size, quantity and colors closely matched what we ordered," wrote the judges. The judges were "fairly satisfied" with the roses ordered from the online store because they were hard to arrange and the unexpected addition of white roses, which were not included in the Web display.
"The deliveries from Proflowers didn't fare in the judges' opinion as well as those from 1800flowers.com, but the deliveries we received looked closer to what was promised than those from FTD.com," said Valentino.
FTD.com The orchids ordered from the Web site came with a considerably less amount of blossoms and the hue appeared whiter than pink, earning the delivery a ranking of "fairly satisfied" from the judges.
The mixed bouquet received from the flower supplier was less full and colorful than the image on the Web site earning the merchant "least satisfied."
Advice on maintaining flowers: Clean the water every three days. "Flowers don't die because they're old. They die because of the bacteria built up in the stem or because of where you place them," says Scott.
If you're looking for unique but safe bets consider lilies, tulips, hyacinth and roses, says Scott. What's a good price range? "You know your mom, and all moms are special but your particular mom is the most special," says Scott. He says expect to pay any where $75 or up on a high end arrangement.
"Put the money into the flower instead of a nice vase," says Scott.