Nursery Review Guide for the New Buyer

This is for the new buyers to kind of get a grasp on what could potentially be expected when ordering mail order fruits. This is all based on my experience and using my value system. I consider the condition of the root system to be the most important factor when receiving these. Value of the price is not part of these ratings. This is only product quality rating. Multiple orders from each.

THE FIVE STAR CATEGORY:
JF&E- Four gallon potted filled with roots. Larger tree cut to three foot.
Bob Wells-Three gallon potted filled with roots. Larger tree cut to 4-5 foot
(Bob Wells is repotted bareroot, but purchased late in season has done well for me)
Edible Landscaping-Three gallon potted filled with roots. Size and pots vary.
Isons- Not all products are potted, but I have yet to have a bad experience.

These guys can be counted on for perfect product every time. And my favorite feature is they are on demand year round (except Isons). You buy- it arrive less than two weeks later. Folks that’s what five stars looks like.
Now I also place Dax and Bamboo & Fruit from this forum in this category, but they are not on demand YET. I have about 10 from each of them alive and doing well.

THE THREE STAR CATEGORY: These are mixed bag. Got good, bad, and ok from them. Some orders were ok and some had me fuming saying never again.

Rolling River-Potted. Small plants. Some died.
Burnt Ridge- Bare root. Each order was a mixed bag of OK and bad. Some died.
Willis Orchard- Bare root. Each order was a mixed bag. Excellent to trash. Some died.
Scenic Hills- Potted. Plants are pretty small, but I would say they are four stars.
PlantMeGreen- One gallon potted filled with roots. 2-3 foot. Some product four stars.

Assumptions based on observation and reports of others, but I have never ordered from:

Stark Brothers-When a one foot tree is over $50 I have to say no. Their pricing is now radically high.
Fast Growing Trees- Another radically high priced company.
One Green World- Often spoken well of, but a little expensive.
Raintree- Others report mixed bag.
Bottoms- Potted with nice prices. Many report well of them.

Feel free to fill in any information on others or debate my ratings.

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I agree with what you have posted here. Good review.

I did notice the prices being much higher at Stark Bros this year. Last year they wanted a huge amount of money for an " organic" tree, about $75+. I have not bought from them in the last three years and probably will not since their prices have gotten so high. There are other better places than Stark Bros to buy fruit trees, like the ones you mentioned.

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Dave’s Garden has a Garden Watchdog section which has reviews of a large number of vendors for seeds, plants and trees.

https://davesgarden.com/products/gwd/advanced.php?search_text=&cat[158]=105&cat[157]=&state=xx&country=XX&sorter=company_name&submit=Search

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I have never looked at that, but most review places are either fraudulent or only pissed off people.

Well, I have placed reviews on the site and I am sure that others from the forum have as well. I know of no other review site that covers this kind of vendor. And to be fair supplying living plants is a hard business to be in. It’s not very profitable and has not either the high volumes nor the capital that allows it to have the automation that a vendors like Amazon, Walmart and Target have.

I understand your concerns about fraudulent reviews and angry (whether fair or unfair) customers. However, I think if you can keep these concerns in mind the Garden Watchdog site has useful information to offer.

If you go to the site and look at the reviews you will notice several trends. First, vendors that are specialists tend to do better. If they specialize in say daylilies or apple fruit trees they tend to do better in the reviews. Which is what would I expect. Second, I think people respond more negatively when they receive a dead living thing compared to say getting a faulty toaster and the reviews reflect this.

For myself on this site if half the reviews are negative I consider the vendor “fair” or better. If the negative review are less than a quarter then I consider the vendor good or better. On this site the reviews tend toward negative. And you of course have to skip the reviews that say nothing except “their great” or " they suck".

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I’d add Fedco to the top of the list. Good quality apple trees and scionwood. 100% survival, high take rate. I’ve received nice trees from Cummins, and generally good rootstocks, though I’ve had a few runty ones. 100% survival on trees, high take rate and survival on rootstocks. Singing tree has always been good for scionwood (and summer budwood). No online ordering though. The only bad experience I’ve had was with Gurney’s. I ordered two apple trees. The trees that arrived were the biggest I’ve received from anywhere, but the roots were wrapped poorly and the wood chips surrounding them were dry. I soaked them in water for a bit, placed in damp potting soil and let them hang out in the garage. I cut off about 50% of each tree thinking that if they weren’t dead the roots wouldn’t be sufficient to support all the leaves if they came. Fortunately they pulled through, but I was not impressed and won’t bother with them again with so many smaller outfits that offer better quality.

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Onegreenworld grafts their citrus trees to Flying dragon. This takes more care and longer to get a sellable size tree but the results are a better tree that produce better fruit. There fore their citrus tree prices are legitimately a little higher. I am grafting my own to Flying dragon rootstock with some make it to a viable tree. Fukushu on Flying dragon.

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Bay Laurel nursery has a 100% success rate for me. Bare root only and they only ship in January which is perfect only for those of us in hot climates.

@Robert is Jf&e that you mention “Just fruit and exotics”?

Yes.

My Fukushu on flying dragon now 14 months old.

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