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We ordered eight bunches of flowers that will be available for Mother’s Day and had them delivered to be assessed by our expert: the editor of Which? Gardening, Ceri Thomas.
We focused on companies offering either British-grown flowers, Fairtrade flowers or ones that run schemes similar to Fairtrade. Find out more about sustainable flowers.
Our test included flowers from Marks & Spencer, Moonpig, Waitrose, Interflora and Bloom & Wild. However, it’s worth noting that when questioned, many of the companies we ordered from were unsure of where the flowers in each bouquet came from and those that did know gave vague answers.
The bouquets were delivered straight to Ceri, where they lived with her for a week.
On arrival she noted the amount and type of each flower in each bouquet and judged the flowers on the quality of packaging and their condition.
She then monitored them throughout the week to see which bouquet stayed fresh and perky for the longest. You can see the results in our pictures below.
We took the ‘after shots’ after five days for those companies which stated a five-day freshness guarantee (even though we continued to monitor the flowers for longer) and after seven days for those where a number of days freshness wasn’t stated.
Best of the bunch: our top picks
Hand-Tied Seasonal Garden Posy, £39, available from: The Great British Florist
Of those we tested, The Great British Florist bouquet was one of our two top picks.
The Hand-Tied Seasonal Garden Posy bouquet was marketed as ‘a mix of seasonal loveliness from our network of British Flower Farmers and from our own cutting patch’.
Great British Florist says it sources 95% of its flowers from the UK, and because it lets the seasonal produce lead the bouquet design, no two bouquets are the same.
Due to the nature of the flowers on offer, there isn’t loads of choice on the website. But when ordering, we found this a welcome change from the sometimes overwhelming choice on other websites.
At the checkout you can choose either next day or nominated day delivery, and you can even make an optional charity donation.
This bouquet impressed our expert with its spring-like feel. She felt the seasonality of this bunch was just right for Mother’s Day.
Packaging: Ceri was impressed by the use of lovely paper wrapping tied up with an attractive ribbon.
Condition of flowers upon arrival: The flowers looked perky on arrival minus one snapped tulip.
Longevity: As is usual with spring bulbs, most were ready for the compost heap by the end of the week, but the alstroemeria and eucalyptus were still going strong.
Fragrance: This bouquet produced a spring-like scent that filled our expert’s entire house. She described it as ‘wonderful’.
M&S – Fairtrade® Rose & Alstroemeria Bouquet, £35, available from: Marks and Spencer
The M&S Rose & Alstroemeria Bouquet, our second top pick, was marketed as: ‘An elegant mix of white and yellow alstroemeria paired with white and yellow roses.’ M&S advertises a range of what it calls Fairtrade rose bouquets on its site as well as a handful of British bunches.
The website was easy to navigate. You can opt for next-day or nominated-day delivery at the checkout.
It was made clear in the description that the Fairtrade roses in the bouquet we ordered are from a Fairtrade farm in Kenya. However, when we questioned M&S, the person we spoke to couldn’t confirm where the alstroemeria came from.
Overall Ceri was very impressed with this bouquet: ‘It looked lovely when it first arrived and still looks great now, with the roses and alstroemeria now fully open.’
Packaging: Ceri appreciated the detail that had gone into the packaging. The flowers came in a recyclable cardboard box encased in a sealed plastic bag for freshness.
Condition of flowers upon arrival: The flowers arrived in great condition, although Ceri felt the cream alstroemeria might have been picked a little early as they were still ‘green-looking’.
Longevity: If you want a bouquet that looks lovely and stands the test of time, then this is the bouquet for you. It was still going strong after seven days despite having a five-day freshness guarantee.
Fragrance: The only downside to these flowers was the lack of scent.
How the rest did
Below we’ve listed how the rest fared in alphabetical order.
The Friendship, £29.98, available from: Arena Flowers
The Friendship bouquet was marketed as a mixture of Fairtrade roses, lisianthus and germini topped off with an oriental lily, which Arena Flowers says adds ‘a touch of glamour’.
Arena Flowers has been named the most ethical florist in the UK according to the Ethical Company Index. The company says it works directly with Fairtrade farms, while also making an effort to minimise its environmental impact through reducing plastic in its packaging and the energy used in powering its facilities.
It also says that when you buy a bouquet a tree is planted in countries experiencing deforestation.
There was a good amount of choice on the website, but we found it a little difficult to navigate at times. There was a full breakdown of the bouquet flower types and amounts though, which was useful.
It should also be noted that when you order from Arena Flowers, the flowers will be delivered by Yodel and the order updates pre-delivery have no mention of Arena Flowers on them, just ‘Flowers HQ’.
Arena Flowers was promptly able to tell us that the flowers in this bouquet were sourced from farms in Holland.
Overall, we weren’t too impressed by the lily selection in this bunch. There was only one good-quality lily stem, meaning that there won’t be much to look forward to when they eventually bloom.
Packaging: These flowers came packed vertically in a cardboard box. The packaging was almost plastic-free, minus a small sheet of cellophane.
Condition of flowers upon arrival: They were delivered in good condition with no damaged or bruised stems.
Longevity: By the end of the week the roses, eustoma and eucalyptus started to look tired and dried out, but the lilies were only just perking up, so there could be life in them yet.
Fragrance: The bouquet was scentless apart from the lilies which smelt pleasant once they’d bloomed.
The Abby, £35, Available from: Bloom & Wild
Bloom & Wild states that the mixture of roses, stocks, rosemary and limonium in The Abby will ‘make you feel at peace in no time.’
Bloom & Wild says it uses 100% recyclable packaging for its letterbox flowers, sends zero waste to landfill (and has done for the past five years) and has found ways to cut its carbon emissions right down.
Bloom & Wild also says it supports schemes in Kenya that help to improve lives and cut carbon.
The Bloom & Wild website was easy to navigate and looked very professional. A potential issue regarding late deliveries with Royal Mail next-day delivery, due to Covid, was made clear at the checkout. We were offered a number of more expensive alternatives in addition to the next-day and nominated-day delivery.
When we questioned where the flowers were from, we were simply told they are ‘responsibly sourced and come from Europe and Kenya mostly’.
Ceri wasn’t overly happy with of the look of this bouquet, feeling there was ‘too much dull greenery’ and also felt the online image of the flowers didn’t look much like what arrived at her door.
Packaging: Attention was paid to the presentation of the bouquet. The flowers came in a well-secured cardboard box with a green ribbon. The additional card had an attractive illustration on it.
Condition of flowers upon arrival: Overall the condition of the flowers was good but, according to our expert, there were more ‘sad-looking’ flowers than is usual for bouquets that travel dry.
Longevity: Although the roses and stock were starting to look tired by the end of the week, she felt flowers could last a few more days.
Fragrance: Ceri was disappointed by the lack of scent from the stocks, something which was promised by Bloom & Wild in the bouquet description.
A Spring Mixed Bunch, £35, available from: Cornish Blooms
The Spring Mixed Bunch was marketed as ‘freshly picked scented narcissi, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths, all lovingly grown in Cornwall or Lincolnshire’.
Cornish Blooms says it sources all of its flowers locally, meaning that the bouquets on offer change regularly.
The website doesn’t look great and some of the images weren’t as professional as those from the large companies we ordered from.
You’ll be able to do nominated-day delivery, but it’s advised, as we discovered via the small print, to order two days before just to be safe. We felt this could have been made clearer on the website.
Ceri described this bunch as a ‘beautiful spring bouquet’, which she felt reflects the season very well.
Packaging: The bouquet was wrapped securely. It was also without cellophane, unlike many of the other bouquets.
Condition of flowers upon arrival: They arrived in perfect condition; nothing looked wilted or damaged.
Longevity: By the end of the week the flowers were still colourful but the dead daffodils and ‘gone-over’ flowers needed removing.
Fragrance: Ceri loved the scent of this bouquet, describing it as a ‘pleasure to sniff’ as she walked past.
Spring Hand-tied Bouquet, £38, available from: Interflora
Each of Interflora’s bouquets are wrapped individually by florists all over the UK, so while Interflora didn’t give an exact description of the bouquet we ordered, it did promise that the bunch would contain ‘beautiful spring tones for a truly seasonal feel’.
Interflora says it uses Fairtrade flowers across its bouquets and minimises its environmental impact by using recyclable gift boxes, biodegradable cellophane and even recycled ribbon.
Although easy to navigate, the website did look and feel a bit old-fashioned compared to some of the other sites we shopped from. Once florists reopen you’ll be able to click and collect from your local one. For now you can choose same day, next day and nominated day delivery at the checkout.
Because Interflora arranges each bouquet individually via a florist, it couldn’t confirm where each individual flower was from but it did say that we could expect some seasonal favourites such as narcissi, tulips and hyacinths.
Overall Ceri wasn’t too pleased with this bunch: ‘It didn’t have much that brought me joy.’ She felt the colour combination, small bouquet size and lack of scent let this bunch down.
Packaging: Ceri wasn’t impressed with the excessive cellophane that leaked water when she moved the flowers around. They also came in an open top box which could leave the flowers vulnerable to damage, although ours weren’t.
Condition of flowers upon arrival: There were some brown edges to the anemone petals, but otherwise they were in good condition. She was surprised at how much smaller the bouquet looked overall compared to the others we ordered.
Longevity: The display needed to be dismantled after the seven days but some of the eucalyptus, ranunculus and the gerbera could be kept. Other flowers had turned brown or were losing petals.
Fragrance: No scent.
The Pink Blush, £31, Available from: Moonpig
Moonpig describes The Pink Blush’s mix of cerise germini, pink roses, white lisianthus and scented oriental lilies as ‘bright and cheery’ and ‘the epitome of elegance.’ On Moonpig’s website it states that it sources many of its blooms from British and Fairtrade farms.
There’s an exact breakdown of the number and type of flowers for all the bouquets which is useful. However, we found it annoying that there wasn’t the option to checkout as a guest as there was for the other sites.
When we asked about flower origin, Moonpig was able to tell us that the flowers originated from South Africa and are on the Fairtrade Policy.
Ceri liked the classic combination of flowers in ‘well-chosen shades’ and felt the stem count was very generous: ‘Few mums would turn their noses up at this one, whatever their age.’ This would have been one of our top picks had the packaging not been an issue.
Packaging: They were packed securely in a cardboard box, but there was quite a lot of cellophane that had to be binned.
Condition of flowers upon arrival: One gerbera was bent and a couple of lily leaves were broken, but they were otherwise fine.
Longevity: This bunch lasted just as long as one of our favourites, the M&S bouquet, with the lilies extending the lifespan of the display. This bunch had a five-day freshness guarantee but still looked good after seven days
Fragrance: The lilies provided a pleasant scent once they opened up.
Roses & Tulips Bouquet, £28, Available from: Waitrose & Partners
The Roses & Tulips Bouquet from Waitrose is described as ‘British-grown tulips and beautiful roses in complementary tones of pink and lilac.’
Waitrose says it set up the Waitrose & Partners Foundation 10 years ago, which has since improved the lives of Kenyan flower farm workers who grow and produce the flowers used by Waitrose – though not all of the flowers Waitrose uses are sourced from here. Waitrose also uses British flowers across multiple bouquets.
The site is straightforward to navigate and provides a handy breakdown of the bouquets. However, the add-ons on checkout were a little annoying.
When asked, Waitrose confirmed that the roses are from Kenya and the tulips are British grown.
Ceri felt the arrangement of this bunch didn’t really work: ‘It felt very much like four unrelated bunches of flowers, a bit like someone had grabbed their favourites at the supermarket and put them together without thinking about whether they worked well together.’
Packaging: The packaging was secured well but the flower food was taped to the flowers, meaning it ripped and went everywhere when she tried to open them.
Condition of flowers upon arrival: The tulips were in good condition but some of the roses were bent and bruised.
Longevity: By the end of the week the tulips looked like they had a day or so left in them, but some had started to drop their petals. Most of the pink roses had also started to droop.
Fragrance: No scent.
How best to care for a bunch of flowers
Here are Ceri’s tips on caring for your cut flowers:
- Remove any leaves that will be under the water in the vase or they’ll start to rot.
- Change the water every few days.
- If there’s flower food provided, use it.
- Cut the ends of the flowers every time you change the water.
- Avoid putting them next to a radiator or in direct sun.
What to do when it all goes wrong
If you’ve paid for flowers that weren’t up to scratch when they arrived, or haven’t lasted as long as you’d expected, you may have the right to a refund – particularly if they came with a freshness guarantee. You are protected by the Consumer Rights Act when you buy anything online, including flowers.
If flowers arrive in poor condition, are not as described or don’t arrive at all, you are entitled to a full refund. Visit our page on your rights when you buy flowers to find out more.
Prices correct as of March 2021.