Human Flower Project

HFQ #7:  The Floral Part of No


How should a person handle unwanted gifts of flowers?

Someone who for obvious reasons wants to remain anonymous has written to say s/he’s being deluged with flower deliveries. S/he recently broke off a dating relationship, and the other person has continued to try making contact via emails, text messages, and phone calls. When our correspondent blocked those sorts of communications, s/he began receiving flowers at work from the ex.

“What would be the best way to deal with this?,” our correspondent asks. “I am not even sure how to dispose of the flowers. I hate to throw them away as they are innocent and someone put lots of work into them, but I can not even look at them.”

imageImage: via sodahead

At HFP, we’ve written about predatory flowers before. In our view this is a form of stalking and should be handled as such, firmly. In other words, block all deliveries as one would unwanted phone calls. And if the deliveries continue, call the police.

Mark Knox, longtime florist of Odessa, Texas, told us: “Flowers are always about self-recognition.” Sending flowers is an intrusion of the self into the lives of others. Just because these intruders have leaves and petals, not hands and lips, they should be handled accordingly. Embraced or enjoyed or tolerated at a distance – or rejected.

We expect that unwanted flowers are not uncommon and hope to hear from florists and others with experience or opinions about this awkward floral situation.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/30 at 12:01 PM


Clever ex.  Flowers engage the senses and are so beautiful that ill feelings are overwhelmed.  But, I would block deliveries, too.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/30 at 12:41 PM

I think reporting the person to the police is a bit severe.  If the flowers are delivered by a courier, just refuse delivery and the courier will take them away and presumably report to the sender that they have been refused.  Or give them to someone who would appreciate them - the local hospice or old folks home, or even the local school. Just because your correspondent doesnt welcome them doesnt mean they stop being beautiful. 

On the other hand, I did hear of someone in a similar situation who would wait until the flowers were dead and then have them delivered back to the sender.  They soon got the message!

Posted by Russ Bowes on 04/30 at 04:26 PM

This is a situation that is frightening, and can escalate even further if she ignores him or refuses the flowers.
First Advice - contact the local police.  Supply them with all the details of deliveries, etc.  You need to have on official record that this person is stalking you—and this is a form of stalking in most states….and he is not done yet!!
Second Advice - if you don’t want the flowers, sign & asked that they be sent to a local senior home or nursing home, so that someone can enjoy them.
Flowers can be used in all kinds of ways to send many many messages.  So sorry that this guy has picked a thing of beauty to be a weapon!
Take care.

Posted by Cheryl Bakin on 04/30 at 07:24 PM

Ex-boyfriend: I want to send flowers to Susie

Florist: She has asked that we do not deliver to her, but I’d love to take your order and send them to a nursing home, there are some single sexy ladies down there waiting for a young strapping man like yourself to send them flowers. Can I get your information so we can get those out on our next delivery?

Ex-boyfriend Ummnn no. /hangs up

Ex-boyfriend never calls again.

/presses easy button

Posted by Brandon Kirkland on 04/30 at 07:33 PM

Just blocking deliveries or refusing them only means they have to seek another method of intruding/contacting the recipient. It is a form of stalking and should be handled as such and the best way is through a police report. A recipient who accepts them because she/he feels they are beautiful is sending a very mixed message. Even sending them to a nursing home or local hospice in it’s own way is a form of acceptance. As a safety precaution, a simple police report will often eliminate the problem, but just because they are pretty flowers does not make the message less lethal.

Posted by Sher Tannozzini on 04/30 at 08:18 PM

whoa whoa!  Can we all stop assuming that the sender is male and the recipient female?  It could be the other way round, or both parties may be of the same sex.  The responses throw up an interesting anthropological issue about the sending and receiving of flowers in our society.

Just informing the florist that deliveries will no longer be accepted may be a temporary solution, but then the sender only has to go to another florist and the whole thing starts again.  Far better to bite the bullet and contact the sender and say directly that their attentions are no longer welcome.

Posted by Russ Bowes on 05/01 at 04:10 AM

Russ -

You’re right. We are assuming the sender is male - yet in my more than 30 years as a florist, we’ve never once had a guy call about receiving unwelcome flowers.  Could happen, though.

Cheryl, Brando & Sher give good advice on dealing with unwanted overtures through flowers. Remember, the sender is waiting for recognition so acknowledging the gift leaves the door open for more.

We florists often get caught in the middle of these situations - with the purchaser repeatedly calling or emailing to confirm delivery.

At minimum, it will take a firm ‘no thank you’ message from the recipient - with further steps as outlined above if the sender refuses to stop.


Posted by Cathy Hillen-Rulloda on 05/01 at 03:16 PM

Many thanks to everyone for offering so much help on this thorny problem. I appreciate that folks have taken this person’s trouble seriously and offered realistic suggestions (and so does s/he).

Thanks especially to all the florists, who clearly have experience along these lines—and to Cathy, for urging pros to write in!


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/01 at 05:28 PM

I have long refused to take any anonymous orders from clients, even clients I know.  Time and again I have to explain how what seems like like a romantic gesture could be interpretted as unwanted advances, and that even though s/he “should know who they’re from”, they might seem like they were from the office creep.

All you need is a sherrif to show up once at your shop with mugshots because someone violated a restraining order by sending flowers, and you’ll make the same rule.

Posted by Sprout on 05/04 at 08:39 AM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.