Best flowers when someone is seriously ill?
September 14, 2009 12:24 PM   Subscribe

What types of flowers or arrangements are appropriate for the family of someone in the ICU?

My friend's father is in the ICU with sudden grave complications of another illness. The doctors have warned the family that they may lose him.

A group of us are pooling money to send flowers, and I am in charge of doing the flower selecting and sending. What colors and types of flowers would be good to have in the arrangement? E.g., white lillies aren't called for in this case, right?

Direct links to flower arrangements I can purchase on the internet would be fantastic. Also, recommendations/warnings about certain online florist companies would also be appreciated.
posted by GarotaDaCidade to Society & Culture (16 answers total)
Seasonal arrangements, to me, are the best bet. They don't hold any hidden meanings, and the florists generally tend to do a nice job with what's blooming at the time.
posted by xingcat at 12:27 PM on September 14, 2009

Call the nurse's station. There's a good chance that no flowers will be allowed in at all.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:27 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

What small_ruminant said, and talk to a florist in person. They'll be able to recommend something long-lasting, with no inappropriate colors, and a mild odor (strongly scented flowers can be overpowering in a hospital room).
You might want to opt for a small potted plant - an ivy or somesuch. That way you won't have to worry about withering and the potentially distressing effect of such on his visitors.
A local florist will likely handle any order you arrange through the internet anyhow - just look up local florists with FTD affiliation. Or even one without - support local business!
posted by Billegible at 12:31 PM on September 14, 2009

If you know of a favorite color or favorite flower, that would be nice.

I avoid 1-800-Flowers after my attempts at sending something to my niece for her 16th birthday. They sent nothing, and there was no communication with me at all regarding availability, could I pick something else, etc. It was really incredible.

You could try this. I really wouldn't worry about lilies in an arrangement. Lilies alone might be another stoyr.

The best bet for me, after my 800 fiasco, is to go to a florist if you can and ask their advice and see arrangements.

Figure on spending about $100.
posted by jgirl at 12:35 PM on September 14, 2009

I should have mentioned before- we are sending to the home, not the hospital. The hospital definitely doesn't allow flowers, we checked already.

Local florists can ship across states? Quickly?
posted by GarotaDaCidade at 12:44 PM on September 14, 2009

Local florists can ship across states? Quickly?

Can you find a florist local to the destination and call them?

I agree that seasonal arrangements are nice and fairly neutral, and a potted plant might be even better if you have concerns about the kinds of cut flowers to send. I've found calling and speaking to the florist at the shop can be particularly helpful - they often give very good advice.
posted by juliplease at 12:49 PM on September 14, 2009

I have had the best luck with calling a florist in the town the flowers are supposed to be delivered to, explaining the strictures (no heavy scents, $50 max, or whatever, I hate carnations, whatever) and then letting them pick out what flowers are in season. I have sent flowers in every way you can think of and this has always worked out the best.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:49 PM on September 14, 2009

Call a local floral shop directly.

Send a live plant since it will hopefully last longer than cut flowers. When my hubby was in ICU, I received a thanksgiving/xmas cactus - it was great since I didn't spend any time away from the hospital and it was there for me afterwards. Whenever it blooms, I'm reminded of how someone reached out when things were really bad.
posted by mightshould at 12:53 PM on September 14, 2009

Also, if you know of an Edible Arrangements in that area, that would be an AWESOME alternative. Much more useful than flowers, while still letting them know that you are thinking about them and hoping to brighten their day. Plus, the family could probably use some pre-made HEALTHY snacks while they're sitting around waiting or in between hospital runs. They are actually pretty nice-looking (even with some of the cheesy flower shapes), particularly because of their cheeriness, and the ones I've had have always been great quality fruit. We've enjoyed them immensely in my office.
posted by Madamina at 12:56 PM on September 14, 2009

Live plants are better than flowers. When someone sends you flowers because someone you love is dying, and then they die, and then the flowers die....I appreciated the flowers we received, but having to throw away a bunch of dead flowers was unpleasantly symbolic. I'll say no more for fear of beating a dead horse.

Seconding the Edible Arrangements. It expresses your caring, supportive sentiment and the Vitamin C and health effects of the fresh fruit might be well appreciated.
posted by bunnycup at 1:04 PM on September 14, 2009

I have had the best luck calling a local florist and explaining to them what I need. I get a lot of compliments on my flower sending skill, and that's really the only secret. I would avoid Pro Flowers and 1-800-Flowers.

Edible Arrangements are nice, but when I have received them I have felt as though I have to hurry up and eat them, I feel guilty if I don't, and they're not so portable. And if you receive more than one...

A live plant is nice, but then you run the risk of it being a long-lasting reminder of a bad time. Flowers are more safe, I think.
posted by KAS at 1:24 PM on September 14, 2009

I'm going with the plants, too. When my father and father-in-law passed (within 2 years of each other), I received both plants and flowers. I still have plants from both of their services and every time I see them I'm reminded of a good way. It's going on 5 years and 3 years and I still have the plants. Dish gardens are nice - where there are multiple kinds of plants in one container. Inevitably something in the container will die, but the hardier plants will last. I enjoy indoor plants, but if you don't know how well they'll be cared for, just ask the florist for low maintenance plants. Good luck, I'm sure you'll get something nice!
posted by fresh-rn at 4:00 PM on September 14, 2009

I work for a florist.

Call a local florist directly. You will save routing fees. They will be able to take your order using your debit or credit card. This is also better than ordering online as you will want to make sure they have whatever you wish to buy in stock with no subs.

I'd recommend calling and asking about their dish gardens. Most florists carry these or can make them up. Our own shop, for ten bucks more, will add fresh flowers to them just to add color-when the flowers poop out they can be removed, leaving the green plants in the dish garden to live on. I've sold a lot of these for get wells and such.

If you'd rather send a plant, ask the florist what they have in stock and ask them to describe it.

If you want to send a bouquet, it's okay to troll the FTD and Teleflora sites to see if there's something you like. If the florist can see the picture, and has the flowers, they can reproduce what they see. It's also quite appropriate to ask for what we call Designer's Choice-here you give them a set amount and they fill to value using what they have on hand that looks good (you can always ask them about what they have that day.) In my experience you wind up with a more attractive arrangement that way.

Do NOT use an internet service unless they are Teleflora or FTD. But again, it's much better to call.

One thing-think about whether or not you are comfortable with them leaving this on a porch if no one is home. It may be preferable to ask them to leave a tag if no one is home, or send a phone number and ask them to call the recipient before delivering. Make sure you state your preference and have them make a note of it.

PM me if you have any questions.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:32 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

(Most florists connected with ftd or teleflora have internet sites you can order from connected to their stores. It's still better to talk to them but if you need to order tonight online those would be fine. Make sure they have a contact number for you if they have a question about the order.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:33 PM on September 14, 2009

Just wanted to chip in to say that if you send flowers, please send ones that are relatively fragrance free. I received many huge arrangements of gorgeous lillies and fresia and such when I was last in hostipal and they lasted about a half hour in my room before I (sadly) had to donate them. When people are feeling unwell, strong fragrances can be unbrearable.
posted by lottie at 5:45 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

We usually do what has been mentioned a few times already, call the local florist directly. If you phone the florist in your town, they'll do the same thing as you can and charge you for it. Tell them what its for ( occasion), who its for ( man, friend, etc.) and tell them you want fresh flowers. Something that will last ( if thats your preference). We try and stick to florists that have been around a while if we can. Sometimes you can find info about them on the net. Some of the florist sites have pictures of arrangements for suggestions. They might give you some ideas. most florists we have dealt with will phone ahead of the delivery. You can ask them to do that.

My aunt used to say white lillies are associated with death.
posted by Taurid at 12:03 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

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