Brilliant blooms: 5 smart consumer tips for sending flowers

(BPT) – For Americans, sending flowers to show love, caring and concern is a longstanding tradition appreciated by both givers and receivers. It’s so popular, in fact, that last year we spent some $2.6 billion on flower gifts for the Mother’s Day holiday alone — $26.6 billion on floral products throughout the year.

Why our fascination with the fresh and colorful eye candy? Scientists believe we have such strong associations with the bountiful blooms that they can boost our sense of well-being.

“Flowers have immediate and long-term effects on emotional reactions, mood, social behaviors and even memory for both males and females,” notes research by Rutgers. “The simple presentation of flowers, even a single flower, will release a strong and immediate behavior reflecting positive affect. It’s possible that the flowers — either through their visual or odorous qualities — have effects on brain chemistry.”

Whatever the reason we enjoy flowers so much, there are several steps we can take to make the gifting experience more enjoyable for the giver and the receiver. Consider these tips next time you’re choosing fresh flowers for your loved one.

* Choose delivery. You may be tempted to pick up a few cheap cellophane-wrapped stems at your local grocery store, but understand that won’t have the same panache as a professionally designed, packaged and delivered bouquet. No matter the occasion, there’s a little thrill of surprise that comes from that knock on the door from a delivery person carrying a gorgeous display of blooms.

* Think ahead. Ordering online well ahead of time can not only offer you peace of mind, but may save you money by allowing the flower company to make the delivery a few days before or after a holiday. That timing may also allow your loved one to stop and appreciate your gift at a time that’s more convenient.

* Know her favorites. Delight your loved one by finding out ahead of time which kinds of flowers she prefers, then ordering ahead to ensure your florist can secure that variety. Different blooms can carry different associations based on personal experience; perhaps pink roses bring back happy memories of her mother’s rose garden but orchids remind her of her aunt’s funeral. She may also be partial to beautifully scented varieties such as lilies, freesia, lavender or hyacinth. The Rutgers research points out that women who receive flowers report positive moods as many as three days later.

* Inquire about details. It’s perfectly OK to ask how many stems of each flower will go into a given arrangement, or to find out whether it will be delivered in a plain glass vase or a beautifully designed keepsake planter. You may be able to request more flowers be substituted for an elegant container — or vice versa.

Check out for a comprehensive selection of floral designs and other meaningful gifts, no matter the occasion.

To Vase or Not to Vase

When it comes to flowers, there are lots of things to consider. Keep your options open by offering expertly designed arrangements from local florists that arrive in vases or opt for fresh-from-the-farm bouquets beautifully presented in gift boxes, with or without a vase. If they love DIY floral designing, skip the vase and save some money by ordering an arrangement labeled “Shipped in a Gift Box” and selecting the “Bouquet Only” option.