What’s a Vase Life Guarantee?

Flowers Someone posted a comment asking me what I meant by "vase life guarantee."  Good question!  Over the years I spent researching Flower Confidential, I watched this issue become more and more important to florists.  When people buy flowers, they want to know that they’re getting their money’s worth, and often that means knowing that the flowers will last.  So many florists are responding by offering a "vase life guarantee," often of five or seven days.  If the flowers die before then, you get your money back.

(And believe it or not, people do bring their flowers back for a refund or a replacement.  But before you go rushing off to the florist with a vase of dead flowers, read on.)

I saw vase life guarantees at Field of Flowers, a floral superstore in Miami that I fell in love with.   They sell every kind of flower imaginable in an almost "wholesale" environment and they even have a "make your own bouquet" station where you can arrange and wrap up the flowers you’ve selected.

I’ve also seen guarantees at Organic Bouquet,  where some roses get a 7-day vase life guarantee and others, such as the scented roses they sometimes offer, are only expected to last 3 or 4 days.  (The more scent, the shorter the vase life.  That’s why so many commercially-grown flowers don’t have a scent.)

Most important, though, is the conversation I saw florists having with their customers that went something like this:  If you keep your flowers out of sun and away from heat, and if you change the water and use some flower food, and maybe re-cut the stems, your flowers will probably last a week.  If you don’t, they might be dead within a few days.

Once people understand that, they seem to have more realistic expectations.  I have friends who have brought flowers home from the supermarket, unwrapped them from the plastic,  shoved them in a vase, and set them in a windowsill.  In a couple of days, they’re dead.  Suddenly flowers don’t seem like such a good value anymore.

There’s lots more to talk about here, including how vase life is affected by the way flowers are shipped and stored, and why flowers are a pretty good value even if they only last a couple of days, but I’ll save that for another day.

Meanwhile–have any of you ever returned flowers to the florist?  Would you?