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Appropriate flower or plant birthday gift for friend
June 30, 2014 12:07 PM   Subscribe

A dear friend of mine is turning forty-mumble-something tomorrow. We are getting together to celebrate this weekend, but I would like to send flowers or a plant to her office on her actual birthday. Would it be awkward to receive flowers from someone who is not a significant other? (We really are just friends - no romantic undertones.) Are there only certain kinds of flowers that would work? I am leaning toward sending her a nice plant, but not sure if plants are reserved for condolences/sympathy. More details inside.

Here is a plant I thought might be nice. What do you think?

We are both in the SF Bay Area. She is in Berkeley. Delivery needs to be tomorrow (July 1). I would like to use a local florist if possible. Budget is $100, including delivery. She has significant diet restrictions, so cupcakes, Edible Arrangements, etc. aren't an option.
posted by Munching Langolier to Shopping (22 answers total)
 
Eeek, I hope they're not reserved for condolences... I regularly send plants to people in the hospital, because I figure that there's better symbolism in something that's alive, rather than something that's going to die in a couple of days.

I think a plant is a lovely gift, and devoid of the romantic symbolism of cut flowers, though I think flowers (other than red or white roses!) from a friend is also totally okay for a birthday.
posted by BrashTech at 12:11 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Is she the sort of person who's decent at caring for plants? I'm terrible with plants, and every time someone gives me one, while I appreciate the intent, I'm thinking, "Oh, great, another plant that I am totally going to fail at taking care of and feel guilty for killing."

On the other hand, my friend Katie loves plants. She still sends me pictures every time the orchid I gave her years ago blooms.
posted by mollymayhem at 12:15 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Plants make great gifts and are pleasant to have around in the office, and don't necessarily imply either romantic intent or death, but I do think that specific plant you link to is slightly funereal. I'd go with something more colorful or more offbeat, like a succulent.
posted by ostro at 12:16 PM on June 30


Meh. That plant doesn't scream Happy Birthday to me, it screams GET WELL or SORRY SOMEONE DIED. Something colorful and happy might be more appropriate. I'd call your local florist and describe what you are looking for and they can suggest options. (PS. I would be so happy for a big fistful of fat colorful peonies delivered to my office to display there or at home).
posted by HeyAllie at 12:16 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I'm horrible with plants. I view them as one more thing to hassle with.

I'm of the opinion that as pricey as it is, Podesta Baldocchi does the most beautiful arrangements in northern California.

I loved getting arrangements from there, even if they were from friends or my parents.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:17 PM on June 30


Since a few people asked: She is amazing with plants and has brought numerous neglected ones back to life. (I, on the other hand, have routinely killed cacti, so I understand where you're coming from.)
posted by Munching Langolier at 12:20 PM on June 30


I regularly get people an orchid plant for occasions like this. It doesn't scream romance like roses do, and they last a long time and do OK on desks.
posted by quince at 12:21 PM on June 30 [7 favorites]


Orchids are nice for people who like plants and are good with them. Unkillable bamboo is nice for people who are a little less great with them. I do think that plant you picked, while lovely, does have a condolence ring to it. Maybe call these people or these people and see if they have suggestions?
posted by jessamyn at 12:29 PM on June 30


Adding on to brashtech, if you go with cut flowers yellow roses traditionally represent friendship rather than romance.
posted by novelgazer at 12:35 PM on June 30


Here are a few nice delivery options I found: red anthurium, succulent garden, pink mini calla lily plant.
posted by ostro at 12:42 PM on June 30


I would love to get either a plant or cut flowers in this situation. Not weird at all.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:44 PM on June 30


Friends can send flowers to their friends without creating a romantic implication. HOWEVER, if you are trying to avoid any romantic misconception (even just by her coworkers) consider sending her balloons, also available via florist.
posted by samthemander at 12:47 PM on June 30


I'd get a potted orchid. This place is in Berkeley and has a few different sizes. Call them to discuss rather than placing the order online.
posted by barnone at 12:51 PM on June 30


I always prefer a plant to cut flowers. Cut flowers always seem so bittersweet because, while lovely at the start, they're already in the process of dying. One of my favorite, very cheery-looking plants is a cyclamen. The florist you linked, alas, does not have them available but a quick google of the area turned up several florists who do.
posted by DrGail at 12:56 PM on June 30


Personally, I think a Hydrangea like they have on the same site is nicer. They even already called it the Happy Hydrangea!
posted by travelwithcats at 1:00 PM on June 30


My friends gave me an orchid when I left my last job, it's a great gift and not at all couple-y. I'm good with plants but it's currently living with, and being somewhat neglected by, my husband and still thriving even with indifferent care. A plant in general is totally fine if you don't want to buy an orchid specifically, but I'd go with something colourful or fun to really avoid any kind of condolence or romance overtones.
posted by shelleycat at 1:06 PM on June 30


Peace lilies in specific are very commonly associated with condolences/sympathy plants. I think a plant would be fine, but I'd chose a different one. You will definitely cause your friend to be on the receiving end of "who died?" questions.

If you know she likes plants and has a green thumb, I'd suggest an assortment that contains some bloomers that with proper care can be kept alive and periodically blooming even in indoors conditions: African violets, cyclamen, orchids, kalanchoe, and begonias are good choices in that regard. Personally, I'd kind of rather get cut flowers that are meant to be tossed after a week or so, than a potted-up outdoor plant like a mini-rose or gerbera daisy that is just not going to make it long-term indoors unless you have a true greenhouse setup, because the inevitable decline and death seems a bit like a failure.

Specifics aside, whether you go with cut flowers or a plant, I think your instincts are great: it shows that you are aware of the things that she enjoys, and I wouldn't worry that it will be misconstrued as a romantic gesture.
posted by drlith at 1:10 PM on June 30


I think plants and flowers are a nice thing to send for someone's birthday and don't have to be only for condolences/sympathy.

I try to go for more cheerful colours though, if it's not intended to be a sympathy/condolences thing. I agree with the other posters encouraging you to get a different plant. I'd stay away from anything white or lily-ish--those have funereal connotations for me, and, looking at this florist's guide page, for others as well.

[Be aware chrysanthemums are a traditional Asian funeral flower. My family is very Westernized but I know some of my (Chinese-Canadian) family members still consider mums funeral flowers, especially white ones.]
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:28 PM on June 30


You all are amazing, as usual. Thank you for preventing me from sending funeral flowers - that's exactly the type of thing I was worried about. I went with this cute little orchid terrarium. I was also blown away by the gorgeous arrangements on the site Ruthless Bunny mentioned, and will definitely order from them at some point.
posted by Munching Langolier at 2:34 PM on June 30 [6 favorites]


That orchid terrarium is lovely. Good choice!
posted by Ostara at 6:23 PM on June 30


Good for you. I have sent flowers for a variety of reasons (they're my "thinking of you" go-to) and I think they're always appreciated.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 3:38 AM on July 1


Nice choice!

For the future, here are two other SF-area great floral delivery options:

Farmgirl Flowers in San Francisco - they only do SF-proper, I believe, and maybe Oakland/Berkeley sometimes? But they are GORGEOUS and very hip, and colorful and always appreciated.

Amos Orchids in San Mateo. Call them. He has an amazing greenhouse and delivers PHENOMENAL orchids for the price. Seriously, I thought I was going to get a dinky one-stem orchid plant for the amount I spent, and it ended up being a huge 2 or 3 stem plant full of flowers. Very nice guy, great prices, beautiful quality. I don't know if he would deliver to the East Bay but if your recipient is in the Peninsula or SF proper, it's a great options :-)
posted by barnone at 1:53 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


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