Do online flowers deliver?

Mother's Day arrives once a year, often with an armload of flowers. But when you order online, all you have to go by is a photo. Consumer Reports set out to find out whether what you see is what you'll get.

Testers ordered eight arrangements from two major florists, FTD and 1-800-Flowers.
The flowers-mixed bouquets and roses-were in the $50 to $60 range. Photographers took pictures, and more than one hundred staffers assessed the photos and rated how happy they'd be to receive the flowers.

Most of the appraisers were happy when shown only the photos of the delivered flowers. But when they compared the online photos with what came, they were disappointed. For example, the 1-800-Flowers site featured a bright mixed rose bouquet, but the roses that arrived were much different colors. An elegant bouquet sold on the FTD website came as a hodgepodge of different flowers and colors.

Consumer Reports says the online arrangements are shot under the best circumstances, professionally styled using the freshest flowers. And the flowers you'll get are subject to availability.

So ask before you place that order. Who Will Fill The Order? Will it be a local florist in the recipient's community or a central warehouse in another part of the country? Will the floral arranger see the same photo? And what's the recourse for flowers that are substandard?

Then- be sure to have the person who receives the flowers take a good picture as soon as they're delivered- so you can compare what they got, to what you ordered.

Consumer Reports has a few tips to keep any blossoms looking fresh: Tell mom to trim the stems with a sharp knife each day. Change the water often, and trim off any leaves that are submerged. Keep the flowers in a cool spot, and make use of those little packets of preservatives that come with the flowers. They really work.