Buying flowers online: Same as advertisted?

Florists like Kevin Kegan say making Mother's Day arrangements keeps them busy.

"I would say it's a good 50 percent of all our business sales," said Kegan. "So it's quite huge."

But if you can't choose your own bouquet, you can shop online for arrangements that are bursting with color. Consumer Reports ordered from three national websites -- ProFlowers, 1-800-Flowers and FTD.

"We wanted to see if the arrangements they deliver look like the arrangements they picture online," said Bernie Deitrick of Consumer Reports.

Deitrick opened two dozen deliveries and arranged them in vases. They included roses, tulips and mixed flowers, as well as orchids that arrived in pots. The flowers cost $57 to $87, including delivery. Judges compared photos of the flowers to the pictures on the florist's website.

Some of the bouquets proved a good match, but other arrangement didn't measure up. On FTD's website, the mixed flowers looked lovely. But the flowers FTD sent looked a lot different. Overall, the mixed bouquets were the most disappointing.

"There were more substitutions of flowers, different colors, different sizes," said Deitrick.

1-800-Flowers was best at sending what was ordered, and their tulip bouquet was the best match of all.

Of course, if you really want to plant a smile, nothing beats delivering the flowers yourself. Once the flowers arrive, they will last longer if you keep them in a cool spot and out of direct sunlight. The Society of American Florists recommends using the little packet of flower food that comes with most bouquets.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2010. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

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