Flowers say it all. Thank you, I love you, Deepest sympathy, Congratulations, and so on. You can't go wrong by sending a sumptuous bouquet to a special someone's doorstep. With Mother’s Day fast approaching, many of us will soon be dusting off our floral knowledge yet again. But unfortunately, ordering flowers over the phone and online can feel a little like taking a shot in the dark.

Without the opportunity to see the blooms firsthand and assess their quality, it can be nerve-racking to simply give the florist the green light to take your money and go to town. Having been on both sides of the transaction—as both professional florist and customer-who-wants-good-value—I've learned a few tricks that make it easier to order flowers that are always stop-and-stare gorgeous, as well as cost-effective.

1. Consider the beauty of a single variety of flower.

When presented in a uniform bunch, any flower—such as the ever-popular lily—has a chance to really shine, without any possibility of being overshadowed by surrounding blossoms. Also, florists often charge a premium to create complex arrangements using a blend of different blooms. They may charge less to throw together a big, exuberant display that uses only a single type. These simple yet striking bouquets that feature only one flower of choice can look way more expensive than they actually are.

2. Learn when fresh flowers arrive in the flower shop, and order in advance.

Where I work, there’s a regular delivery schedule. Our suppliers deliver fresh product to our shop a couple of times each week. The customers who time their orders to coincide with these weekly delivery days have the advantage of ultra-fresh product and also greater variety, as the stock inevitably depletes after the delivery days have passed. Also, ordering in advance allows you to specify exactly which flowers you want, as it gives the florist time to request any additions to their standard flower shipment. If you place a same-day order, you might be at the mercy of the selection the florist currently has in stock.

3. Consider what’s in season.

Flower crops bloom at the mercy of the seasons, so prices will vary depending on the time of year. At the height of spring, it’s possible where I live to order a massive tulip bouquet for astonishingly cheap. In summer and early autumn, there’s an abundance of low-cost sunflowers. Not all flowers vary in price, however, and different flower shops might have their own ways of pricing their stock, so it’s probably safest to ask your florist about seasonal specials.

4. When sending flowers out of town, find a florist that’s based in the area rather than sending through your local florist.

You’ll save money by ordering through a florist that operates in the area you’re sending flowers to. At the shop where I work, many customers come to us because we have a wire service that allows us to transmit their order anywhere in the world. But in addition to paying a few extra dollars for the use of our services, there are other potential downfalls with this approach.

For example, in rare cases an order might fail to transmit to out-of-town florists due to a computer glitch with our system. Also, I won’t be able to tell a customer what’s fresh and lovely beyond the shop I work in. It’s easy to look up florists in any city by searching online, and spare yourself any potential headaches by talking to them directly.

5. If in doubt, request flowers based on their size and longevity.

Sunflowers, Gerbera daisies, Chrysanthemums, and Oriental lilies are a few of my go-to favorites because they’re impactful, cost-effective, and long-lasting.

6. There’s no need for a vase.

If you want to send flowers in a container so the recipient doesn’t have to fuss with them, you might consider asking for an arrangement in floral foam. This style demands the florist to individually insert the stems of the flowers into a block of hydrated foam. The florist has total control over how far apart to space the flowers, so it’s possible to get a huge and tall arrangement for relatively little money. You can request a basket or any type of container you like. If you know that the recipient has vases, you also might consider sending a wrapped bouquet. There’s sometimes a higher markup charge attached to arrangements, so you can get more flowers for your money if you nix the vase.

Related article: Send Flowers for Cheap with These 4 Fantastic Florists

This is a guest post by Jessica from Victoria, B.C.