I’m the owner of a notoriously black thumb. My apartment is where beautiful fresh-cut bouquets go to die a swift (hopefully painless) death. In what feels like less than 24 hours, they go from perky to pathetic and just end up in the trash. It all used to really bother me, how quickly colorful flowers—often sent by well-meaning loved ones—would wilt and shrivel in my care. Until I learned that they might not have been as fresh as I thought upon arrival.
Think about it: When East Coasters receive roses on Valentine’s Day (e.g. in the dead of winter) what gets delivered probably didn’t grow in a snow-covered field a few miles away—but instead in Colombia or Ecuador. The USDA estimates that 70 percent of all flowers sold in the U.S. are imported from either of these countries—two that don’t have strict regulatory guidelines on pesticide use. Now matter how you cut it, the entire process of picking, arranging, and getting flowers delivered leaves a pretty big carbon footprint.
As for pre-made grocery store bouquets, the odds are pretty good that the entire thing was gathered and shipped, right in the plastic wrap, from Central America. But even if you’re ordering from a small neighborhood florist, you’re probably getting quite a few imported blooms in with local ones.
So after all this time, those wilting flowers had nothing to do with my own ineptitude but instead the fact that they were entombed in plastic and shipped thousands of miles (at least that's what I'm telling myself). But that doesn’t mean that when a "send flowers" occasion like Mother's Day pops up, you’ve gotta find a new go-to gift. This year, instead of gifting mom a less-than-fresh arrangement, send her beautiful blooms you know are eco-friendly and ethically sourced. They’ll last longer and they’re better for the planet. With these five online florists, all you have to do is double-click to brighten Mom’s day.
Delivery: All 50 states
A single-source grower, the Bouqs’ crops are all grown on the side of a volcano in Ecuador—seriously—or on American farms under strict eco-friendly, sustainable practices. When you order, the flowers are cut that same day, on the spot, and shipped directly to the recipient (i.e. no stop at a middleman vendor along the way), so everything is fresh when it arrives. And shopping the site is a nice experience for a couple of reasons. One, there are no stuffed animals, candies, or other “upsell” items—it’s all about simple, beautiful flowers. Two, shipping is included in the list price, so you don’t need to worry about tacked-on or hidden “handle-with-care” fees. One note: these Earth-friendly flowers come wrapped in butcher paper, so Mom will have to supply her own vase.
Delivery: All 50 states
Organic Bouquet only carries products that are certified organic by the USDA, certified Fair Trade, or Rainforest Alliance–approved. You can find a wide variety of arrangements and small gifts on the site, all wrapped in biodegradable “green” packaging. The company also partners with more than 55 charitable organizations around the world, and its efforts have helped send 300 girls to school in India.
Delivery: All 50 states
One of the most well-known big floral delivery brands, FTD is clutch if you need next-day service. But like a lot of similar companies, it does outsource some bouquets from farms in Central America, which may not adhere to Fair Trade business practices. Good news, though: After some 10,000 people signed a petition in 2011, FTD now offers Fair Trade–certified bouquets and lists sourcing information on-site. While there are only a handful of options available for now, shopping this category sends a clear message to big flower corporations: We want pretty blooms, but we also care about where they come from.
Delivery: New York City only
New Yorkers, this one’s for you. This mother-daughter company sources only NY-grown flowers and delivers them via bike messenger. So green, right? We especially love the “Blooms on Tap” page, which shows you exactly what’s growing right now on local farms. The company relies on floral artists to curate bouquets, so you won’t be exactly sure what will show up on Mom’s doorstep—but you can check out Instagram to get an idea. They also offer same-day delivery as long as you place your order before noon, so get to it!
Delivery: Varies, depending on vendor
Not in NYC, but still want to support your local eco-friendly florist? Head over to this online directory to find florists, studio designers, supermarkets with flower stands, and farmers who are committed to using American-grown flowers. You can search locally, or find national delivery if you’re spending this Mother’s day apart.
And yes, blooming flowers are gorgeous, but they don’t last long. Want to give your mom a gift that will keep on giving year-round? Head to your local nursery and pick out your favorite flower bulbs or grab some herb seeds from Thrive Market.
Photo credit: Annie Spratt via Unsplash