Picking the right flowers
October 10, 2009 6:41 PM   Subscribe

My recently widowed stepmother just returned home after a long hospital stay for cancer treatment; the prognosis looks good, thankfully. I want to send her flowers for her birthday, but I know more about quantum physics than I do about flowers, and I was a liberal arts major, if you follow my meaning. I don't know of any floral preferences on her behalf, and can't really ask now. So... are there any specific types that are more appropriate than others?
posted by John Smallberries to Shopping (20 answers total)
I think that sounds lovely, and that the sentiment far outweighs the type of flower chosen.

Anything would be appropriate, I would go with something cheery (sunflowers, etc) and maybe stay away from white or "mourning" type flowers.

Red roses are typically reserved for romance, but mixed colors are beautiful.

My MIL received a beautiful flowering plant after an illness, which she still has to this day, as another suggestion. It's a nice reminder of her recovery.
posted by mazienh at 6:48 PM on October 10, 2009

I agree that

a) the thought will be appreciated no matter what and

b) something like wildflowers-ish, with various colors, which seems symbolic of rebirth and optimism, would be very nice.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:49 PM on October 10, 2009

There's supposedly a whole language of flowers - I wouldn't put a whole lot of stock in it but if you're inclined, here's one lexicon.
posted by lakeroon at 6:59 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Bouquets of (only) roses or lilies are probably out. Otherwise, a general arrangement of assorted bright flowers should be okay. The florist may be able to help, if you're going to one in person.
posted by dilettante at 7:00 PM on October 10, 2009

I'd talk to her healthcare providers. If she has a lowered immune system they may be discouraged.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:19 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding ChurchHatesTucker. As a cancer patient myself, my doctor has advised I avoid:

1) Pets
2) Children
3) Anyone Sick
4) Flowers

Maybe a stuffed animal and balloons? Or just a visit. To me that would mean more than flowers.
posted by NeonBlueDecember at 7:44 PM on October 10, 2009

If she can't have real flowers, you could check and see if you can get fruitflowers where she is, and if those would be okay.
posted by dilettante at 8:04 PM on October 10, 2009

Many florist will also send gift baskets containing whatever the heck you want them to include, filled to value. Fruit, gourmet cheeses, nuts, chocolates, etc....heck, we made up a basket awhile ago for an elderly man consisting simply of different kinds of fruit juices. Call up your florist and ask them for some suggestions if you think flowers are not ok.

Many of them also sell balloon bouquets, stuffed animals and candy. Just call and ask!

(I work for a florist.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:11 PM on October 10, 2009

But if flowers ARE a go, why not ask for a mixed bouquet of flowers-this time of year lots of arrangements incorporate fall tones and use flowers like sunflowers, yellow or orange Asiatic lilies, and daisies in fall colors (yup, daisies come in more than the basic colors.) I'd stay away from Stargazer lilies or anything else your florist would consider fragrant for a get well bouquet, however. Most people I sell to seem to like bright colors for get well flowers-daisies go well in these types of bouquets and are relatively inexpensive.

One bouquet I typically show folks is Teleflora's Brighten Your Day Bouquet, for what it's worth.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:16 PM on October 10, 2009

Edible Arrangements make beautiful fruit "flower" arrangements.
posted by Linnee at 8:25 PM on October 10, 2009

fwiw, if you go with a company i cant suggest proflowers enough... the link adds a 25% off for your order

have used them multiple times for mother, gf, etc and had great luck with them

and no, im not affiliated with proflower, just have used them a ton before and suggest them at every chance i can get
posted by knockoutking at 8:59 PM on October 10, 2009

I love Proflowers, too, if you're set on flowers - but flowers are probably not a great idea for someone with a depressed immune system. What about a nice box of something fun from Harry and David, or a really lovely tea basket - we used this place to send one to an ill professor last year and were very pleased with the results.
posted by honeybee413 at 10:09 PM on October 10, 2009

Absolutely call the florist, or visit in person, and ask them for a cheerful 'get-well-soon' type arrangement for your stepmother, and if you know her favourite colour, tell them that too. Florists know what people generally like, they know what's in season/currently available, and they can work to your budget.
posted by harriet vane at 10:52 PM on October 10, 2009

I bought flowers recently for a relative who lives a few hundred miles away from me. I Googled 'florist' and the town, and visited the first hit. There were arrangements for different occasions, I went with 'fall' even though it was really a get well soon arrangement, I thought it was cheerier and more upbeat and lively. Everyone said they looked great and I'd do it again. I called them, btw, I didn't order online. I thought ordering online was probably a little much to expect them to do well. They had pictures, prices, categories, and a phone number. I thought, why push my luck?

If I'm flying blind with a retail business, I find 'are they competent enough to put up a website' a reasonable metric for vetting them.

I had the sense they'd have loved to put something original together for me, so my guess would be that if you'd rather call, tell them the circumstances, and give them a price range, a good florist would be happy to do that.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:00 PM on October 10, 2009

The edible arrangements look nice at first - but do not last long and can start looking old very fast - also hard to store if not eaten right away. (I know from experience.)

Why not just a fresh fruit basket if she has an appitete - or something from Larry & David.

I also liked the idea of a "fall" arrangement - appropriate for the changing season and it does not scream "I know you're sick".

Either way, it is a lovely gesture and I know she will appreciate your thoughtfullness.
posted by pamspanda at 3:17 AM on October 11, 2009

I don't think there are any rules. It really is the thought that counts (which is where the card comes in - bit of poetry goes a long way). I recently sent my ex these green orchids when he was in the hospital getting chemo. Something seasonal is always welcome and sends a message that there's (non-exotic) beauty right outside the door. Does she have a special interest or cause she cares deeply about? If she enjoys cooking a wreath of herbs might be a good choice. Organic Bouquet has lots to choose from, including these long-lasting ilies which smell amazing. No matter what you pick your stepmom will feel your love.
posted by pocket_of_droplets at 3:34 AM on October 11, 2009

If you order from some of these online places be advised that your flowers will come in a box and will have to be arranged by the recipient. Organic Bouquet has an amazing price for those stargazers but I'm betting they'll be shipped with most if not all the blooms not open yet. Just something to be aware of.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:41 AM on October 11, 2009

Also, I advise that you speak directly with a florist by phone. When you enter your credit card info online, that info is printed along with your order and comes to my shop-or whatever shop it's sent to-and hello, there's your card number AND your name AND your address right there in front of God and everybody. If you do it by phone it's entered into the computer and after that only authorized personnel (I.E. the office manager) is able to see it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:44 AM on October 11, 2009

Seconding the flowering plant. Those don't die and have to be thrown out. Consider an African violet, or another your local florist or garden center owner recommends.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 6:47 AM on October 11, 2009

Those fruit flowers look pretty but they are an insane amount of fruit-- far too much for one person. My mother received one for her birthday and most of it had to be thrown away. They need to be eaten pretty quickly and unless she has lots of visitors, even with the nurses' help it would be too much. Besides she might not have much appetite for food.

On the other hand, orchids can stay in bloom for a month or more so an orchid plant is actually good value for money.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:28 AM on October 11, 2009

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