Review: Bouqs vs Urbanstems- Updated for 2021
Which is better Bouqs or Urbanstems? Flower delivery can be pricey, and no one wants to send a lackluster bouquet. Both Bouqs and Urbanstems sell generally higher quality and more creative floral arrangements than the old-guard like FTD, but which one should you choose? I first published this post almost three years ago, and it it was definitely time for another review to see how each service measures up. This time around I ordered two bouquets from each, and one plant.
Read on to see all the details, but here’s the short version: go with Bouqs. During the first review in 2017, Bouqs and Urbanstems came out fairly close to even. This time around, there was a clear difference in quality, accuracy, and value for the price.
For the first round of bouquets, I didn’t set a price limit, and opted for a lush looking arrangement from each site. Comparison is a little difficult, as Urbanstems often doesn’t make clear how many stems are in an arrangement, while Bouqs offers standardized sizes, often with 3 options, from Regular to Grand.
I settled on Bouqs Grand size Summer Love bouquet ($79), and Urbanstems Regatta bouquet ($130, no size options). Despite the price difference, it seemed like the bouquets might be of similar size. I also added on a gift box of Sugarfina gummies to my Urbanstems order, an option that I wish Bouqs would offer!
Both bouquets were scheduled for delivery on the same day, and both arrived as scheduled. However, once I’d unpacked, trimmed and placed the bouquets in vases, something seemed…not right. The Urbanstems bouquet was markedly smaller than the Bouqs bouquet. I also thought I’d ordered a prettier arrangement in a different color palette.
I double checked my order info, and found that what they’d sent looked nothing like the bouquet I’d ordered. After some sleuthing on Urbanstems’ website, I found that they’d sent me the Firecracker bouquet, which sells for $60 less! When I contacted Urbanstems customer service about the mistake, they apologized and said that the Regatta wasn’t available (it’s not clear if someone just decided to make a substitution?), and gave me a store credit for the full amount of my order. Had I placed this order for someone else, I’m not sure this would have been entirely satisfactory, but for my purposes, it was a good-enough resolution.
And when comparing based only on price, I ended with two very similarly priced bouquets–the Urbanstems Firecracker, which sells for $70, and Bouqs Grand size Summer Love, which sells for $79.
The difference was striking: the Bouqs bouquet looked fresher and I struggled to fit all the stems in my vase. The Urbanstems bouquet was smaller, with shorter stems, and slightly older-looking. I noticed during my first review of the two that Urbanstems tends to ship flowers closer to fully bloomed, and while you might not notice the distinction at first, it absolutely shows up in the state of the bouquet after a week:
The Bouqs bouquet still looks pretty great after a week, with some flowers starting to brown around the edges. Unfortunately, the Urbanstems arrangement was done for, drooping, dropping pieces, and looking dry despite plenty of water.
For the second round of bouquets, I wanted to compare value priced options, and chose arrangements that came in under $50: the Sprinkles bouquet from Bouqs ($39), and the Godetia bouquet from Urbanstems ($45).
Once again, the Urbanstems bouquet was markedly smaller, and in this case, a little beat up. Several blooms fell off immediately, and one stem was bent. The Bouqs bouquet was less impressive at first, but quickly opened up and still looked amazing after a week. The Urbanstems bouquet continued to underwhelm, dropping blooms left and right.
While I did lean toward Bouqs during my first review, I was surprised to find such a clear winner this time around. Bouqs bouquets we fresher, larger, and a better value for the money.
Though shipping plants can be expensive, I’ve sometimes considered sending a pretty plant rather than short-lived flowers. I was also curious how well houseplants would hold up during shipping.
So I ordered some plants to find out! I bought an Orchid from Bouqs and a Jade Plant from Urbanstems. This doesn’t make for a completely even comparison, but I’m happy to report that both arrived in great shape and are still thriving after a month on my windowsill.
Urbanstems shipped my Jade Plant wrapped in a mesh gift bag to prevent potting soil leakage, then wrapped in bubble wrap, and held in place in the shipping box by a long stick inserted into the pot.
This packaging was fairly effective as the plant itself arrived in great shape. The mesh bag wasn’t enough to keep the plant and soil firmly in the pot, though. There was a good amount of soil in the bag, and along the top of the planter, so that I needed to take the plant out on my balcony to unpack and clean it up.
All of the textured rope detailing on the pot made this a bit of a pain! It’s not quite the experience I’d hope for if I were sending a plant as a gift, but I do understand that it’s difficult to ship a plant while keeping all the soil in place.
Bouqs shipping of the Orchid was similar, but it felt a tad more professionally packed:
The Orchid pot was wrapped in plastic, gently cinched with a rubber band and secured to the box with a zip tie. A little bit of the potting mix did escape, and the pot needed a quick wipe-down, but it was much less messy than the Jade Plant. However, the Orchid potting mix was a thicker, wood chip style mix, so it’s possible that I’d have ended up with more of a mess if I’d ordered a plant that came with standard soil.
Moral of the story, just send Orchids? Overall though, based on this experience, I’d feel comfortable ordering a plant from either site. However, I’d probably skip plants and stick with flowers if I felt like the recipient was likely to be finicky or just not up to the little bit of soil cleanup that might be necessary when unpacking.
Shipping at Bouqs vs Urbanstems
Bouqs and Urbanstems ship their flowers in basically the same way: wrapped in plastic or paper and secured in a large cardboard box. They both include a note for the recipient if you’d like, flower food packets, and instructions for care of the flowers.
Urbanstems signature pink boxes are a little more attractive than Bouqs brown cardboard, but they’re both carefully and very similarly packaged.
When I had a delivery hiccup with Urbanstems during the first review, the service rep mentioned something about special packaging that was meant to keep the flowers hydrated, but my orders over that summer, and more recently in the spring, never included anything beyond the standard plastic cone wrap.
Bouqs tends to ship their flowers in bud form, or at least not quite fully bloomed, so that the recipient gets super fresh flowers that last longer. However, this means that their bouquets can sometimes be less impressive when you first open the box (this does vary though, my tropical Promenade bouquet was stunning from the start!).
Urbanstems, on the other hand, generally shipped their bouquets closer to fully bloomed, so that they were ready to display immediately. This can be nice, but it did also mean that some of my bouquets were less than fresh by the time they arrived…see the Quality section below for more details.
Quality at Bouqs vs Urbanstems
Quality-wise, I feel like they’re both sending high quality blooms, but I did have more frequent issues with the appearance of some of Urbanstems’ bouquets.
I think part of this issue comes down to the fact that Urbanstems seems to ship flowers that are closer to fully bloomed, as opposed to Bouqs practice of shipping flowers in bud form, or just shy of fully bloomed. Also, all of my orders for this review took place over the course of the summer, so it’s easy to see how the heat could affect delicate flowers in shipping.
What I found was that sometimes Urbanstems roses arrived a little brown around the edges, and even on one occasion, with a couple buds broken off and loose in the box. Probably because they were already slightly “older”, or too damaged from the heat, a couple of those bouquets didn’t perk up much as my Bouqs flowers tended to after being clipped and added to water, so the overall life span of those bouquets was much shorter, and they started dropping petals on my desk within a week. It was a very pretty mess, but I’d have liked the bouquet to last a little longer. I probably should have complained if only to see how they would have addressed it, but it wasn’t like the flowers looked terrible when they arrived, just a little dark around the edges.
Urbanstems also had more small quality control issues, like a gold vase that arrived with an obvious scratch to the gold coating, and my otherwise cute elephant air plant holder with a sloppy cut to the plastic on one side. (to be clear, it was meant to have a cut out to hold the air plant. someone just wasn’t careful when cutting one side).
Though they were packaged identically, I had fewer issues with my Bouqs bouquets. I did have one slightly disappointing incident with a Bouqs order, the Showstopper that features succulents and roses.
Obviously, succulents don’t have long stems, so they came mounted on a plastic pipette filled with water, and attached to a wooden rod to hold the succulents at the same height as the rest of the bouquet. From the moment the bouquet arrived, one succulent was dropping leaves left and right. It eventually stopped dropping leaves, and the second succulent seemed sturdy enough, but it wasn’t something I’d be excited to send to a loved one! Overall, the majority of my Bouqs flowers arrived in great condition (and they did credit me for the bouquet when I complained), so I’m chalking this up as a fluke.
It’s also worth noting that roses are fragile, and you may want to consider arrangements with hardier blooms when ordering flowers in very hot or very cold weather. Bouqs lush, leafy tropical bouquets are much less likely to arrive wilted in extreme weather.
Variety at Bouqs vs Urbanstems
Bouqs is the clear winner when it comes to sheer variety of bouquets and flower types available.
I really love that there’s always something new, beautiful, and seasonal to choose from. Whether you’re sending flowers for a special occasion or displaying them at home, there’s always something that will suit your tastes and the season.
There’s so much to choose from at Bouqs that it can actually be a little overwhelming at first, but they do help you to narrow it down by origin of the flowers, occasion, flower type, and delivery window. In addition to flowers, Bouqs offers a small selection of potted plants.
When it comes to extras, Bouqs allows you to add a “signature vase” (a tall metal farmhouse style vase with an oatmeal finish), or a large mason jar. I assume this is a conscious branding decision on their part, but–especially given the wide selection of flowers– it’s a shame that they don’t offer a more sophisticated vase option.
Bouqs also doesn’t offer any of the thoughtful add-ons like candy or small gifts that Urbanstems sometimes does.
On the other hand, Urbanstems (save $15 on your first order with this link) has a somewhat smaller variety of bouquets available, with some classic standbys that more or less stay the same, and others that rotate, including the Vogue Collection, which I really love, both in concept and execution. I do have to note that they’ve expanded their flower selection and plant collection quite a bit, so that they’ve actually surpassed Bouqs in plant selection.
Urbanstems works with Vogue editors to create limited edition floral arrangements with coordinated vases. These bouquets change seasonally, so there’s always something fresh and chic to choose from. I appreciate that they design the vase and bouquet as a whole package, which makes the bouquets feel extra special.
Where I think Urbanstems really sets themselves apart– if they could only be more consistent about it–is their selection of neat add-ons like small birthday gifts, chocolate, cards, an additional selection of vases, and other cute trinkets.
Bouqs vs Urbanstems: Which is Best?
Based on my most recent experiences, I’d recommend going with Bouqs. They have higher overall quality and offer better value for the price. But I do think Bouqs could learn from some of Urbanstems’ innovative add-on offerings, and Urbanstems can still be a good choice depending on your tastes and needs.