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Mother's Day flower success: Order this, not that

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Mother's Day gifts for less

Buying a Mother's Day bouquet can be a dicey proposition: Will what Mom gets look anything like what you ordered?

Aside from greeting cards, flowers remain the most popular Mother's Day gift. A little more than two-thirds of shoppers plan to buy them this year, according to the National Retail Federation, shelling out $2.4 billion in all. The average shopper expects to spend $29 for a bouquet, but online, it's not unusual to spend two or three times that. (Check out the video above for tips to cut your bill.)

And for what? "Most of the time when you're sending a bouquet, you never know what it looks like," said Kamie Kennedy, chief marketing officer of Flowers.iQ, a site and app that compares web florists' promotional photos against customers' social media snaps of what they received. (See some of their "fails" below.) There's no one site that wins out, she said; smart shopping is more about which blooms you pick.

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The easiest way to avoid a problem is to pick up the phone and call a florist near Mom, said Cheryl Reed, a spokeswoman for Angie's List. "Historically, your best bet is to buy local," she said. A good florist will be happy to work with your budget and desires, if it's important to include say, sunflowers. "Ask, do you have these available?" Reed said. "Don't just trust that 'spring bouquet' will be what you think it is."

(Above photo courtesy of Flowers.iQ.)

For online orders, based on Flowers.iQ's 5,000-plus deliveries gauged, here's how to limit your odds of a Mother's Day fail:

Steer clear of mixed bouquets. "Flowers of a single type of bloom often most consistently deliver," said Kennedy. (Think roses, lilies, ranunculus.) Mixed bouquets are more at risk of substitutions at a florist's discretion.

Ditch droopy blooms. "There are just some flowers, and unfortunately, they're the flowers that we love for Mother's day, that are just more delicate," said Kennedy. In particular, be careful when ordering bouquets of tulips, sunflowers and daisies, she said. Their heavier heads can mean they look droopy in a vase, especially if it's a shipped bouquet rather than one that's florist-arranged.

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Opt for early delivery. Arranging to have Mom's flowers delivered a few days before Mother's Day gets you ahead of the ordering curve, said Kennedy. By Sunday, she said, "what they have left are often the dregs," increasing the risk of substitutions and so-so quality.

(Above photo courtesy of Flowers.iQ.)