ProFlowers in the News


Would you believe it – plants are hot news again, and so soon after Michigan trees had their moment in the sun. This time it's the red hot controversy over ProFlowers' sponsorship of Rush Limbaugh's radio show. (If you've been in the Outback for the last week or so, click here to re-enter the news cycle and find out why so many people are angry at Rush and want his sponsors to dump him.)

Several sponsors indeed dumped the show immediately, and pressure mounted against the rest who, like ProFlowers, who seemed to be standing by their man.

The company was getting lots of complaints via Twitter, and responding, sort of.  I notice in the screen shot below that the Blogging Nurseryman Trey Pitsenberger was speaking his mind.  (Go, Trey!)

ProFlowers Twitter

And on the website Pissed Consumers, a new section appeared – Proflowers Pissed Consumers.

One disgruntled customer, a blogger, wrote:

This past Valentines Day, I spent over $50 with to buy my wife two dozen multi-colored roses. It was our tenth Valentines Day together and I wanted to do Proflowers2something extra special for her.

He goes on to say he won't be doing that again.  Hey buddy, try your local florist.  Here's what you get from ProFlowers for 50 bucks, by the way. 

Speaking of Valentine's Day, imagine how panicked the company would have been if Rush had made his incindiary comments a month earlier, right before V Day?

No matter.  There was enough pressure on them to cause a rethinking of initial lame responses and on Sunday, they dumped Rush. On their Facebook page they criticized his comments as "beyond political discourse to a personal attack" and stressed that they "do not reflect our values as a company." 

Other sponsors, including AOL and Carbonite, also announced they're jumping ship, and now radio stations are, too. We're on a roll here! 

But back to ProFlowers, about which I learned a bit over the course of all this unwanted media attention. For instance, it was started by one Jared Polis, the first openly gay male freshman congressman from Colorado.  But then I found a reference to ProFlowers as a long-time contributor to Republican causes – presumably since it was sold by Polis, a Democrat.

From the ProFlowers Wiki page we learn about some troubles unrelated to shock radio – lawsuits involving false advertising and unfair competition.  And this: 

Florist advocacy groups continue to take umbrage at ProFlowers' marketing which disparages the role of the local florist, particularly since ProFlowers itself uses local florists to fulfill its same-day, late next-day and Sunday delivery orders.

Readers, are you using ProFlowers or their online competitors, or do you go local?  And is that a loaded question? 


  1. Kind of agree with Rochelle, above. …I used ProFlowers two or three times to send flowers to my mother in San Diego. They were a SD-based business I think, and I liked the idea of ordering online. Don’t use them any more because 1)each time I used them I would get spammed afterwards with email ads and they were very slow to respond to requests to stop, and 2)the tulips they sent didn’t last as long as they should have. Now more local florists have websites so you can look online and then call them.

  2. If we didn’t have the very occasional post about plant-related controversies, we wouldn’t be gardenrant, would we?
    Fortunately for people who want happy stories, 99 percent of what’s covered in the gardening media is just that.

  3. If you are sending flowers locally (or even buying them for yourself), it is worth finding a truly excellent local florist. There are not many of them but an excellent florist can produce a bouquet that will knock your socks off and astonish and amaze all who see it. If you routinely send flowers to someone (for instance, your mother) in another city, it is worth the effort in finding such a florist there, too. I happily order many things on the internet but not fresh flowers.

  4. When i want to send flowers to someone out of my local area, i call my favorite local florist–whose bouquets are always wonderful–and ask them to use their preferred professional affiliations/connections to make sure a lovely arrangement is delivered. i tell them how much i want to spend, what “feel” i want it to have, etc…and the results have always been very satisfactory.

  5. Thanks for the story. What is shocking is how long it takes some to do the right thing. (As in, only when their backs are to the wall.) We need to know what companies we are supporting even when it’s not happy news. There is plenty of fluff out there already.

  6. I use my local florists as much as possible. When I need to use someone from another city/town I tend to hunt down a small florist on the internet. I have never been disappointed.

    I do have a confession to make, I will buy some flowers for myself from the grocery store.

  7. I haven’t used Proflowers, but I do order from the online retailer Organic Bouquet fairly regularly (I have to admit I discovered them via Amy Stewart). They have become my go to florist simply because they have great product and an easy to use website. It has made giving birthday, mother’s day and special occasions gifts to my Mom, Mother-in-Law, Sisters and Grandmother simple and something that they all say they look forward to. I hope so, since I refuse to get any them more “stuff”, I like that flowers is sort of a magical temporary gift and not another trinket to collect dust and eventually have to purged. I had started the flowers only gifts before finding Organic Bouquet, but with family members spread around the country it could be hit or miss on quality and cost, so I have shifted to online even though I do feel a bit guilty about it… but at least I am ordering from NorCal company so they are sort of local to me.

  8. Another great alternative if you’re ordering flowers, especially if you don’t live in the area where the flowers are going:

    They work with a very select list of florists who have very high design standards. No carnations and baby’s breath here.

  9. For what it’s worth, I enjoy the “Ministry of Controversy” posts on Gardenrant. Human interaction with plants in all forms is always interesting!

    I dislike the usually sterile quality of flowers from the big national outfits. The local guys (and gals) almost always do something unique and fun. But my favorite bouquets are always fresh out of someone’s garden.

  10. I like growing flowers for giving to people and putting on the table. At my wedding a couple of years ago we used stuff from the garden and wildflowers from the neighborhood.

    I wonder if all of this exposure will ultimately be good for crazy Limbaugh.

  11. If you want to parade your promiscuity in front of Congress and in reality say ” I will have sex whenever I want and you will pay for my lack of morals and lack of responsibility” then you are open to criticism whatever form it may take.

    Pro flower sucks anyway so I don’t know what the big deal is about
    The TROLL

  12. Sorry,Troll, there is a difference between disagreeing with a person’s views, and personally (and publicly) attacking them. And I don’t recall the woman in question saying anything at all about her sex life.

  13. If folks are seriously interested in what the woman he attacked had to say, then search “sandra fluke testimony”. You will find the transcript. She did not say what RL or the other commentator here attributed to her.

    Phil, the Smiling Gardener, in his comment above has it right — all of this will likely be good for RL (and is probably by design). I seem to recall many prior missteps and apologies, which have only lead to an even larger listening audience. Lets do our part and not ever again mention his name or anything he stands for. He is not one of us, no matter what your political persuasion. If you are reading this blog, then you are smarter and more self reflective and pensive than someone who enjoys his trash and over-inflated sense of importance to national conversations.

    Tulips are definitely more interesting.

  14. Troll : There are so many things wrong with your statement, I can’t even start. And since I think it’s also irrelevant to the discussion at hand, I won’t try.

  15. I rarely buy flowers from a traditional florist any longer. When I see a florist shop now, my brain flashes on an image of poor Colombian women bending over and breathing in various chemicals. Like a few others here, I will pick flowers from my own garden, if the season is right of course. And I’m not at all ashamed to say I buy flowers from the grocery store if there’s a ‘flower emergency.’

    [The next time one of the Ranters posts something that’s sure to bring out The Troll, let’s have a contest to see who can do the best job predicting his comment before he has a chance to chime in.]

  16. Good responses here. Re: ordering flowers: for a number of years now I have always located a local florist in the city I’m sending flowers to – usually on the ‘net – and give them a phone call. It gives me a chance to specify the qualities I most want in an arrangement and those I don’t want. Always they make something wonderful and different from the predictable tele-vase things…and sometimes they so overwhelmingly blow away the recipient that I hear about the flowers from shared friends for weeks afterward. Definitely worth the chat with a real florist.

  17. I like politics in the garden just fine. And to think the sinking of Limbaugh started as a GOP rider to a highway bill, a cynical ploy to keep their base riled this election season over national healthcare.

  18. I agree with Rochelle… This seems like a thinly plant-veiled anti-Republican jab. Granted, Limbaugh’s comments were tasteless at best, but this is just one of several recent only-tangentially plant related posts jabbing at Republicans in the past couple weeks. I guess that’s fine, but for those of us who are dedicated to civility in politics, and are really here for strong opinions about gardening and agriculture (not un-planty politics), etc., it’s a major turn-off.

    It’s your blog, and you’ll do what you like, but just input from a long-time reader.

  19. Plants are irrevocably tied to the economy, the media, and politics in general. I see no reason not to bring up such topics.

    I like it. We’ve had plenty of political posts, and some which were critical of liberals too (i.e. the Obama’s garden, if I remember correctly). It’s news, it’s political, and it’s interesting to have discussions about current events as they relate to us. You go, Gardenrant!

  20. I read some legitimate discussion that the estimate of Lush Dumbaugh’s audience is as over inflated as his ego. Still at the more realistic 1.4 million listeners, the demographic he draws is a tough one for ProFlowers to lose. These are the men who send flowers for all occasions because they lack imagination and may often need to send flowers to get themselves out of the dog house for the horrible things they say and do.

    Case in point:

    Leave it to the TROLL to spout the Party Lie without bothering to learn the true facts.

    You have to wonder will these people ever get tired of being used and lied to.

  21. I worked for them as a consultant way back when they were first starting — nice people then, great team, and the heavenly smell of the lilies when they were trying out new arrangements in the San Diego office… but I support local florists now and local growers, not shipping in flowers from Chile via FedEx leaving them in a box at your door to die.

    Gardening is a very political act — who you support, organic or chemical, what you grow, local nursery or big box, natives or huge grower. It is very appropriate to have political discussions. And, obviously, educating yourself about what is really happening in the gardening world as well as the rest of the world as opposed to simply spewing whatever some idiot told you.

  22. Usually it’s been to San Diego that I’ve sent flowers, and my sister gave me the florists she thought were best. I would call them directly.

    ProFlowers did seem to start in San Diego. At first, they were ok, but after a while they went downhill with quality of service and product.

    Then a year or two back, there was the matter of labor practices and abuse/discrimination against the women who were, in essence, their biggest resource. I wrote, and never having heard of any improvement from them, resolved never to use them, no matter what–and they seem to own a few lookalikes.

    We use local florists if we need delivery, and buy from a grocer (Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, mostly), if there are no flowers in my own garden to cut.

    I gave up $100K bars ages ago, and now Hershey products (Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups), because I am very uncomfortable with the idea of someone else suffering to make something I buy (yes, I did write to tell why I wasn’t buying their products any more). You might check out Ursula K. LeGuin’s story, The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.

    Politics in the garden? Better pesticide regs, safer food chains (although not as safe as we might like), statements of origin on our produce, Organic gardening, CSAs, Farmers Markets, and the like–without the politics made personal, would we have them?

  23. Christopher, you’re dead on. I have no trouble googling the city I’m sending flowers to, finding a great local florist and getting them to send flowers. Not a problem for this gal. I think places like ProFlowers are for lazy, uncreative types.

    Donna & Marina, I agree with you. Gardening can be a political act and how you choose to do it often *does* reflect your stance on many things. And government sometimes helps but most often, hinders. Depending on the type of government, that is. That is not thinly veiled at all. And I’m a proud Canadian!

    Oh and by the way, being a Troll is over-rated. He should get over himself.

  24. Being a TROLL is a wonderful life…….
    And sense when is birth control part of regular
    health care anyway…?? When they start paying for condoms then I will say OK.

    Until then if you don’t want to get knocked up out of wed lock keep your pants on.

    The TROLL

  25. I suppose no one has mentioned this yet because it’s so obvious–but married women also use birth control.

  26. @ Troll/Greg : Have you looked at all of the things that can go wrong with a “normal” pregnancy & the childbirth that it leads to? Never mind a pregnancy or birth with complications. I suggest you do. Before women had the option to control when & how many children they had, it was quite common for mothers to die during pregnancy or while giving birth. Even in this modern day, my sisters who have been through medical school tell me its amazing there are so many of us on earth, given all the possible issues that can arise. At least half of the point of healthcare is prevention. Birth control meds are all about prevention. If you want condoms covered as part of a health plan, fight for it instead of grousing about & begrudging what the opposite sex has fought for.

  27. Oh MG. Even here?

    Short version of facts for Dear Troll:

    1)Hormonal bc for women is, by law, prescribed – not over the counter (or, under it), unlike condoms.
    2) Hormonal bc for women is FAR more reliable even than careful condom use.
    3) Hormonal bc for women means that women do not have to ‘rely on’ a man’s use of a condom.
    4) Roughly 58% of women who use prescribed hormonal ‘bc’ are using it for medical conditions – not just bc.

    I’m so sorry to have soiled (ahem) this lovely site by responding to the troll.

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