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Plants By Mail FAQ


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Archive-name: plants-by-mail
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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
The Plants By Mail FAQ

by Peter Leppik
p-leppi@uiuc.edu

This document is intended to introduce readers to the world of buying plants
by mail order; and also to serve as a central clearinghouse for information
about contacting various mail order plant houses. I make no claims about
being more informed on this topic than your average Joe, but I saw the need,
and I'm willing to put forth the effort to compile and maintain this.

The version of this FAQ posted to USENET used to include a complete list of
catalogs, with addresses and comments. This is no longer done, because the
list was outgrowing the rest of the FAQ. Instead, the catalog list can be
accessed at http://seidel.ncsa.uiuc.edu/PBM-FAQ/Default.html. If you don't
have WWW access, you can send E-mail to p-leppi@uiuc.edu, telling me which
catalogs you want the full listing for, and I'll send you those entries.

History:

   * Updated: 4/11/95
        * Minor revisions. Some list entries added, oters expanded. With
          this revision, I've started noting the time when changes to list
          entries were made, to better track potentially obsolete comments.
   * Updated: 2/22/95
   * Updated: 1/22/95
   * Updated: 7/12/94
   * Updated: 4/30/94
   * Originally Created: 3/17/94 (late at night)

Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. But First, A Word From Our Lawyers
  3. How To Tell a Good Company from a Bad One
     (or: Things To Look For Before Taking the Plunge)
  4. What To Do When Your Order Arrives
     (or: OhMyGawd! There's No DIRT With These Plants!)
  5. Which Catalog To Order From
  6. Mail Order Houses, How to Contact Them, and My Opinions Thereof
  7. But Before We Go....

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Introduction

It seems that one of the most common article titles in rec.gardens is, "How
can I reach XYZZY?" or, "The Plugh company sent me a catalog. Are they any
good?" I hope to be able to answer some of these questions in a reasonably
definitive manner (the first is easy, the second harder), and provide the
neophyte with some introduction to buying plants by mail.

My experience in this area has been short, but intense. After finally moving
from a small condo into a real house (with a YARD and a GARDEN even!) in
1993, one of my first projects was to begin widespread replanting of the
yard (which is mostly boring grass, or very ugly hybrid poplars). To do
that, I began ordering large numbers of bulbs and plants from a number of
mail-order houses. Some were good, some were bad, and I learned a lot about
what to look for and what to avoid.

I welcome any and all comments. Send them to p-leppi@uiuc.edu. If there is
some catalog not covered here which you think should be, by all means let me
know. If you do send me comments, PLEASE please respect my poor, overworked
mailer. I've had people resend me the entire FAQ just for a few lines of
comments, and I even had one person send me a bunch of UUencoded binary
pictures! Needless to say, this doesn't help me much, and it wastes my disk
space. That said....do send comments, because they do help!

I assume that, if you send me comments, you don't mind if they find their
way into a future edition. I'll try to verify this, but sometimes I forget.
Thus, if you DON'T want you name in a future edition of the FAQ, be sure to
say so.

For the full version of the catalog list, you need to go to the WWW version
of this FAQ, at http://seidel.ncsa.uiuc.edu/PBM-FAQ.html. If you don't have
WWW access, send E-mail to me listing which companies you want more
information about, and I'll send you the full listings.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Disclaimer

All opinions in this document are the opinions of the author, unless
otherwise noted. The author is well-known for his arbitrary and capricious
judgments, and cannot be held liable for anything he says herein. Besides,
the author is a poor grad student, and suing him is like trying to squeeze
blood from a rock.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
How To Tell a Good Company from a Bad One

(or: Things To Look For Before Taking the Plunge)

If you are like me, you probably have a dozen or two catalogs from various
places, some fancy, others plain, and you're wondering who to order from and
how to tell the difference between a place that really cares, and a place
that is just trying to unload some poor, pathetic bits of green stuff on The
Gullible Majority. In this section, I will outline what I think a good mail
order company should do, and what you should consider before buying a plant
sight-unseen. Keep in mind that this is aimed at the relative neophyte, who
needs a little more service than the extremely experienced gardener....there
are plenty of companies which provide good plants, but don't offer the level
of service than many gardeners need.

What a Good Mail-Order Company Will Do

  1. Every perennial in the catalog should have a clearly indicated
     hardiness range. That is, for every perennial (anything you expect to
     last more than one year) should have indicated which USDA hardiness
     zones it will survive in. Simple adjectives like "hardy," or "tender,"
     are NOT sufficient. Perhaps I am biased, being a Minnesota native
     currently living in Illinois, but I have seen too many catalogs which
     do not include this crucial information. Without knowing this, it is
     too easy to buy plants that won't survive in your climate. This also
     includes those of you who live in places like Southern California,
     where it never gets cold, since some plants require a period of cold
     temperatures every year in order to survive/bloom/etc.
  2. Every plant should have its botanical (scientific) name listed. Of
     course, this doesn't count for things like roses or tomatoes, which
     everybody knows what that are. This may sound picky, but think about
     it: if you ever want to get information on this plant from some other
     source, and they use their own name, you might have a devil of a time
     figuring out how to get information. A plant's botanical name is
     unique. I have seen places that will take a standard variety of some
     plant, come up with a flashy (trademarked) name, and sell it as
     something special. Needless to say, this is dishonest.
  3. Information on the habitat requirements should be easy to find. By
     this, I mean answers to questions like, how much sun does it need, how
     much water, and so forth. Nearly every catalog has this, but if you see
     one that doesn't, stay away.
  4. A good company will be able to answer questions about their products.
     Really, this is basic. If you call them, and ask about something, they
     should be able to answer your question. If they can only take orders,
     this is a Bad Sign. (By the way, in many places, you can call your
     local County Extension office to get information about plants, too.)

     Finally, something that you should probably ignore:

  5. Every mail order catalog that I've seen offers some sort of guarantee.
     This should NOT be a factor in deciding where to buy from. After all,
     what good does it do if they replace a plant that died because you
     can't grow oranges in Alaska? The replacement will just die, too, and
     you'll spend twice as much time on a plant that was Never Meant To Be.
     Some people have even noted an inverse relation between the quality of
     the guarantee and the quality of the plants: the louder the company
     proclaims its "FOOLPROOF 100% MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE," the worse the
     plants are when they arrive.

What To Consider Before Taking the Plunge

Okay, so you've got your heart set on the beautiful Creeping Green Stuff.
Before plunking your money and time on it (usually more time than money),
you should stop and ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Will it grow in my area? If they don't make it CLEAR (i.e. by telling
     you the hardiness zone), then avoid that plant, or buy it from somebody
     who will tell you.
  2. Do I have a place to put it? It is very easy to get spring fever when
     all the catalogs start arriving midwinter, and wind up buying enough
     plants to cover every square inch of your yard two or three times over.
     Make sure you have a specific place for each and every plant you order,
     and make sure you will have the time to plant it when it arrives. Keep
     in mind that you will probably have to plant them soon after they
     arrive, and you might not be able to control the exact day they arrive.
     Thus, ordering 150 bushes for a new hedge from one place, all of which
     will arrive via UPS on the same day and need to be planted immediately,
     is probably not a good idea. Believe me. I've done it.
  3. Will it really look the way I want it to? Keep in mind that the
     pictures in the catalogs are designed to sell plants, and the plants in
     your garden will generally not look quite as nice. I have seen a lot of
     comments from people in rec.gardens about the rose Blue Girl as a
     particular offender in this respect. Also keep in mind that
     illustrations (and photographs) can be very deceptive.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
What To Do When Your Order Arrives

(or: OhMyGawd! There's No DIRT With These Plants!)

The most important thing to do when your order arrives is DON'T PANIC!

Good. Take a few deep breaths.

The reason your roses/trees/whatever arrived without any dirt is not because
the company sent you dead plants. Shipping woody plants without dirt
("bare-root") is standard. First, it does not harm the plants much, as long
as the company has taken steps to ensure that the roots don't dry out.
Usually, this involves dipping the roots in some sort of stuff that helps
retain moisture. Second, shipping plants bare-root helps keep shipping costs
down. Shipping with dirt could easily double or triple the weight of the
plant when shipped, and make it that much more expensive to buy. Finally,
shipping plants bare-root helps prevent the spread of pests that live in the
soil (like the Japanese beetle). Needless to say, unless you're buying small
seedlings, it would be expensive for a company to grow all their stock in
greenhouses.

There are a few places which ship plants in pots. Shipping a plant with the
dirt will be less traumatic to the plants, and, as a rule, you can expect
these plants to be healthier, but, because of shipping expenses, they will
often also be much smaller than bare-root plants--and more expensive. Given
the option, I will usually buy the plant shipped in a pot, since the quality
is often much higher. In addition, there are some plants which have to be
shipped in pots, simply because they're too fragile otherwise.

Generally, you will get a little booklet with your order explaining how to
plant your new plants. Usually, the first thing to do (with bare root
plants) is to stick them in a bucket of water for some time. You should do
this as soon as they arrive. Then, dig a hole according to the booklet
instructions, and plant those buggers.

It may take some time for your new plants to leaf out, especially if they're
dormant when shipped. Again, don't panic. If you planted in the spring,
don't call the company to complain that the plants are dead until midsummer.
They'll just tell you to wait, because sometimes the plants take a while to
adjust to their new surroundings.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Which Catalog To Order From

If you are buying roses, you should certainly order from a catalog which
specializes in roses. There are quite a few of these catalogs, and you will
generally get better selection, quality, and price than you would from
buying from a catalog which doesn't specialize in roses.

For some reason, this rule of thumb seems to be the other way around when
buying bulbs. I have had the best experiences buying bulbs from White Flower
Farms, which is generally an outstanding catalog, but they aren't even
remotely limited to bulbs. My worst experiences, on the other hand, were
with places that sell only, or mainly bulbs. Go figure.

Not everybody will agree with my judgments. After much consideration (and
several long discussions on the order of "Company X isn't really THAT
bad!"), I've decided that the main consideration has to be consistency. That
means that I can count on large plants, of a uniformly high quality, every
time I order. Note, too, that I haven't yet had anyone take issue with my
list of "Good" companies, just the "Bad" ones. Having said that, here is my
list of best and worst companies, based primarily on my personal
experiences:

Really Good Companies:

   * White Flower Farms
   * Nor'East Miniature Roses
   * Heirloom Old Garden Roses (but see below)
   * Gardener's Supply Company
   * Shepherd's Garden Seeds
   * Stark Brothers

Companies To Avoid:

   * Spring Hill
   * Michigan Bulb Co.
   * Breck's Bulbs

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
White Flower Farm

Litchfield, CT 06759-0050
Orders: (203) 496-9600

White Flower Farm sells just about every kind of ornamental plant that one
might reasonably want to grow in North America.

OPINION: I will state my bias right up front: White Flower Farm is far and
away my favorite catalog. They have a reputation for being "upscale," but
their prices are only slightly above average. Their catalog offers a wealth
of useful horticultural information, along with interesting commentary about
each and every plant. All the information you need to know (hardiness,
planting requirements, light requirements, etc.) is compiled in a single
useful index, as well as being stated with the description of each plant.
The catalog is organized alphabetically by genus name, so in addition to
being fun to read (and look at the pictures), it makes a very useful
reference. Of course, the catalog is only secondary to the merchandise.
Fortunately, their produce more than lives up to the high standards set by
the catalog: it is absolutely first rate. When I was buying daylillies,
crocuses, and daffodils from White Flower Farm and other catalogs, the bulbs
or roots from White Flower were often more than twice the size of the ones
from other vendors, and at a comparable price. Even if you never buy
anything from White Flower Farm, you should get their catalog as a
reference, since it is almost as good as buying a book on ornamental plants,
but a whole lot cheaper.

Sean A. O'Hara (saouc@uccmvsa.bitnet) disagrees with some of my tone:

Not really a flame, but please!  I have a few of White Flower Farm's
catalogues, and I do value them for their reference quality and nice
photographs.  But their plants and garden information is distinctively East
Coast in character.  I would very much enjoy growing a number of plants they
list, but no longer attempt such folly as they are definitely inappropriate
for my arid western climate (as would many of the plants I cherish in my
garden be inappropriate for yours).

Please, let us not forget those 'less fortunate' souls who garden elsewhere!
North America is a big place, and I do not expect my garden to look like
your any more that I expect your to look like mine.

This reminds me of the search for a "North American gardening style".  I can
think of nothing more ridiculous to search for - as if it could ever be
defined for a continent like ours - or that you'd want to try!  This has
always been a way to 'one up' the 'English style'.  Well, England is a
relatively small place, and even then it contains diversity more than we
imagine.

I must plead guilty here. Perhaps I should have said that they sell "just
about any ornamental plant one might reasonably want to grow East of the
Rockies...."

lori@phantom.com reports:

I ordered fuscia (vodoo and swarthy gem) which aren't
doing so well.  Tristar Strawberry plants satisfactory.  Begonia tubers
mediocre.  I also liked the catalog ;-)

Spring 1995: Marie Wilson (Marie.Wilson@atlantaga.attgis.com) reports:

As a newbie bulb grower and reader of rec.Gardens, I ordered my bulbs from White
Flower Farm. All the bulbs I planted (100%) have bloomed and a full rich and
lovely(hyacinths)(sp?) Angeligue Tulips and about 100 windflowers.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nor'East Miniature Roses, Inc.

P.O. Box 307
Rowley, MA 01969
Phone: (508) 948-7964
Orders: 1-800-426-6485

On the West Coast:
Nor'East Miniature Roses, Inc.
P.O. Box 473
Ontario, CA 91762
Phone: (909) 984-2223
Orders: 1-800-662-9669

A large selection of miniature roses, and some supplies for those who like
to grow them (like miniature vases)

OPINION: This company is also on my "Good-Guys" list. Their prices are quite
reasonable, and their stock is high quality. Their catalog has photos of
many of their offerings. If you are into miniature roses (or would like to
be), this is the catalog to get.

lori@phantom.com reports:

cheap cute lil'roses.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Heirloom Old Garden Roses

24062 NE Riverside Dr.
St. Paul, OR 91737
Orders: (503) 538-1576

This is a catalog of "old" roses: not a hybrid tea to be found. If you're
looking for english or unusual roses, this is the place to go.

OPINION: If you are a rose grower, and you are still growing hybrid teas,
this catalog will convert you. Many of the old roses offered here are just
as good, if not better than, the more common modern roses. The catalog
offers a lot of information about a zillion different roses, including
hardiness, and (my favorite) lists of roses well-suited for particular uses
(i.e. roses for growing over trellises, roses for scent, etc.). Their stock
is first-rate, and all grown on its own roots, so there are no bud unions to
worry about. There is no separate phone number for questions, but I found
the people answering the phone to be knowledgeable and helpful. Two thumbs
up. Note that they charge $5 for the catalog, but once you're on their
mailing list (i.e. after you buy something), they'll send it free.

Kristin Bruneau reports a different story:

About a month or so ago on rec.gardens.rose people started to discuss
their experiences with the company.  Over all it was very negative.
Some of the major complaints were that the plants were too young (9
months or less), you never knew when they would get around to
shipping your plant (some waited over a year), and the owners were
very nasty when you had a problem (and basically said that's too
bad).  The only reason I am passing this along is that the responses
were consistently bad and many people's stories were extreme (no
roots on the rose, horribly nasty experiences with the staff).

I too had a bad experience with them.  I ordered from them last year
for the first time.  Even though the rose was in stock when I called
in May, I had still not received it in July.  I had to call up and
raise a fuss before they finally agreed to send it out.  Gosh only
knows when I would have received it if I left it up to them.  When it
arrived it only had two canes, one completely stripped off and
dangling from the plant.  It only had two leaves on it and came with
the worlds biggest slug that was the size of a nickle and covered in
yellow fringe (Yuck!).  I called them to complain and their response
was basically "Oh".  They only guarantee for the plants to arrive in
good condition so I called.  I did not want it replaced at that time
because it would be too late in the season to plant another one (if
they finally got around to sending it to me).  I told them that I
expected them to replace it if it died.  They finally agreed.  Well,
at first it dropped the only two leaves that it had and I thought it
would die.  After a while it did come back though.  It is doing ok,
not great.  The rose was Rosa Rugosa, basically a weed.  Maybe that
explains why I was so lucky it made it.

Anyway, since Heirloom Old Garden Roses was on the highly recommended
list I thought I'd pass these experiences along.  I know that
different people have different experiences and that we must weigh
that in our minds when we order.  Just my 2 cents worth.

I don't know if this is due to temporary management problems, or something
deeper. I'm going to keep this company on my "good guys" list for the time
being, because of my good experiences, but I would appreciate any comments.

From the Rose FAQ, maintained by klbaldwi@ren.edaco.ingr.com (Karen
Baldwin):

Catalog:  $5 (a beautiful catalog -- well worth it as a reference guide)
Service:  One of two companies licensed as U.S. agents by Austin.
          "courageous enough to invest marketing $$$ in
          what was really sort of arisky project [Austin roses]"
          apparently no satisfaction guarantee;
          reports of many ignored complaints by phone and letter
Plants:   most complete offering of Austin roses of U.S. suppliers.
          own-root old roses and Austins
Maturity: plants are extremely small and young, "very tiny plants,"
          but most often they will survive if coddled
          (they say their plants are 6-9 mo old., which
          is arguably too young, yet recipients guess
          the roses they got were much younger than that.
          Many references to "twigs without roots")
          This problem may be due in part to availability issue
          (below), and HOGR attempt to make them available sooner.
Delivery: Does NOT ship to Canada (would not say why).
          Availability of newly released Austins will lag
          behind Canada because of U.S. quarantine period.
          Many reports of broken canes.
          Unasked-for switching of plants from what was ordered,
            when ordered plant is unavailable ... or else up to
            year-long delays in shipment!  to avoid, confirm
            during telephone order that plant is *in stock* and
            *ready to ship immediately* and specify *no substitutes*!
          However: will ship at any time of year (except when
          it is too cold for the plants to survive shipment.)

James Roush (ROUSHJK@vet.ksu.edu) reports:

Read with interest your FAQ on rec.gardens.roses today, especially
the stuff about problems with Heirloom Roses.  I started orders with
Heirloom 2 or 3 years ago, and although I think their catalogue is
great, after 2 years of ordering from them I'm going to try to avoid
it in the future.  I love old garden roses, but.....

I haven't had the problems you mentioned with grouchy consumer
relations, but I, like you, had to beg to get my plants (came one
year two months after they were promised), and I found the quality to
be less than great.  In fact, the second year I was doing some of my
own cuttings and I found that my cuttings started in late April were
bigger and better rooted than the plants I received from Heirloom in
June.  So much for 1 year old plants!  The first year their excuse
for being late was a computer crash, but the second year they had
only the excuse of being too busy.  Also, I used to belong to
Compuserve and the garden group there ran a long string of responses
2 years ago with people who had bad experiences with them.  Even
people who supported them (on the basis that they are the only source
for many roses) had had bad plants and experiences with them.

On the plus side, most of the plants they sent (except a "Hunter"
rugosa) survived with a little coddling--they're just a little behind.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gardener's Supply Co.

128 Intervale Rd.
Burlington, VT 05401
Orders/Customer Service: (802) 863-1700
TDD: (802) 660-3530
Fax: (802) 660-4600
E-mail: gardener@cybermalls.com
WWW: http://www.cybermalls.com/cymont/gardener/index.htm

All kinds of gardening supplies, and a few plants.

OPINION: I have had good experiences with this company. Their products
appear to be of a uniformly high quality, and a lot of people in rec.gardens
swear by them. At least one of their employees reads this newsgroup, so you
may be able to get answers "from the horse's mouth," if you know who to ask.
If anybody can supply me with his E-mail address, I would appreciate it.

kolling@adobe.com reports:

The Gardener's Supply people are great folks.  I ordered a humongeous
light fixture from them and UPS apparently dropped it in shipping,
slightly denting inwards one end so I couldn't install the bulbs.  GS
took it back without a peep.  I have placed at least five orders for
various things over the past 2-3 years and been very pleased.  Their
order takers all seem to be gardeners.

Also, they credited my charge account twice for the return, (due to a
disk crash, as it turned out), and when I called to let them know, they
said thanks, and a few days later a freebie thank you package of maple syrup
from one of their employee's subbusinesses showed up.

Spring 1995: Gary Ross (bkoch@together.net), who seems to be connected to
Gardener's Supply (though he doesn't say how), passed this along:

Thanks for the listing for Gardener's Supply! We are not actually directly
on-line yet on the WWW - we are using a third party for our cybershop and a
shared connection here at the office. But, we should be on-line directly
within a few weeks and will send along our e-mail address and contact names
at that time. In the meantime, we can also be reached on Compuserve at
73324.1302@compuserve.com.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shepherd's Garden Seeds

30 Irene St.
Torrington, CT 06790
Orders: East (203) 482-3638, West (408) 335-6910
Customer Service: (203) 482-3638
Horticultural Help: (408) 335-6910

Shepherd's sells mostly seeds, but also a few plants, and some kitchen and
garden supplies.

OPINION: The stylish illustrations in this catalog give it a distinctly
yuppie feel, but this is a good catalog nevertheless. They have a number of
varieties that are hard to find elsewhere (a whole PAGE of ornamental
sunflowers!), and a wealth of useful horticultural information. My order
arrived promptly, in good order, and appears to be high quality (it is still
a little soon for things to be sprouting around here, though). Prices are a
little above average, but seeds are cheap no matter how you slice it.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Stark Brothers

P.O. Box 10
Louisiana, MO 63353-0010
Orders: 1-800-325-4180
Customer Service: 1-800-478-2759

Stark Brothers sells almost exclusively fruit trees, and a few ornamentals.

Eric Reed (ericr@corgi.sps.mot.com) reports:

Stark Brothers have been around
for a long time. Many of their fruit trees are their own hybrids. I have
order from them twice, both times the orders were very well packed and the
trees were healthy and in general good shape. I planted a local nursery apple
tree and a Stark tree the same weekend. The Stark tree has done much better.
It has grown faster and produce fruit earlier than the local nursery tree.
The catalog is well written and gives a lot of information on each tree.

Spring 1995: I ordered an apricot tree and a bunch of lilac bushes from Strk
Brothers this spring, and they all came at the right time for planting, in
excellent shape. Given the size and quality of the stock they sent me, and
the prices they charged, they are an excellent value. I'll know better in a
year or so how well the plants did (they are just breaking dormancy now),
but early signs are all good.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Spring Hill

Mail Order Reservation Center
6523 North Galena Rd.
P.O. Box 1758
Peoria, IL 61656-1758
Orders: (309) 689-3800
Customer Service: (309) 689-3849

Spring Hill sells just about any kind of plant that catches their fancy.

OPINION: Spring Hill is one of these places that is in the business of
dumping cheap, inappropriate merchandise on unsuspecting customers. The
quality of their merchandise is mediocre, even though the prices are about
average. The provide little or no hardiness information, which is especially
troublesome considering that they sell some plants (like carnations) for
outdoor planting, even though they will not survive the winter in large
portions of the U.S. Furthermore, if you ever buy anything from Spring Hill,
you will be on their mailing list but good. I have received no less than
four different catalogs from them in the last two months (not even counting
the large number of "special offers" which seem to arrive about once a week,
and at least one telemarketing call). Avoid this company like the plague.

Note that Spring Hill appears to be the same company, or closely associated
with, Breck's Bulbs, another company on my "Avoid" list.

Al Harrington [alh@hprnd.rose.hp.com] says:

I think you are being way to hard on Spring Hill.  I realize that
they do not supply hardiness information, and that some of their
plants are not in the best shape - their customer service is very
good.  I purchased the carnation collection (15 plants) and 2 of
them died.  I got credited for all 15 as it was a collection.

I ordered a lot of stuff from them (over 100 plants) and just about
all are doing just fine - what isn't I get credit for.

If nothing else seeing color pictures of *everything* they sell is
nice.  :-)

From the Rose FAQ, maintained by klbaldwi@ren.edaco.ingr.com (Karen
Baldwin):

Service:  superlative customer service w/satisfaction guarantee
Plants:   "Usually grown by the Weaks Farm"
Maturity: very good plants
          (some argument here:  some claim their SH bushes are equivalent
           to or even better/more mature than J&P;
           but two indicated lesser quality stock evidenced by
           taking longer to root, not flourishing as well, lower survival
           rate)
Delivery: Good packing in re-usable bedding material.
          "If rose unavailable, will be sent following year,"
          (so no "surprise" deliveries of roses not ordered).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Michigan Bulb Co.

1950 Waldorf NW
Grad Rapids, MI 49550-0500

Michigan Bulb Company sells bulbs, perennials, and other assorted plants.

OPINION: This catalog is filled with the kind of BREATHLESS PROSE and
AMAZING BARGAINS designed to stampede the gardener into making impulse
purchases. Their prices are cheap, but selection is limited, and quality was
very mediocre. In addition, I was unable to find a phone number anywhere in
the catalog--this could be a real problem, if you have problems with your
order. To their credit, they generally include hardiness information. On the
other hand, they also sell the "Blue Girl" rose, which is an automatic two
demerits in my book. Go elsewhere.

jsr@geneab.b23a.ingr.com (Jeff Reifsteck) reports:

I've had nothing but bad news from Michigan Bulb.  The plants were poor and
didn't survive.  They did replace them without question but my 40 creeping
myrtle (6" evergreen ground cover) became 40 crape myrtle (a big bush and
a lot more expensive).  I needed ground cover not bushes.  Except for the
replacement of a "Blue Girl" rose all the other replacements were not plantable.

apilote@wtcd.DaytonOH.NCR.COM (Angela Pilote) reports:

Last year I ordered some things from them -- NEVER AGAIN!
I even told my husband to remind me of the poor quality
of there plants and bulbs if he even SEES me *looking* at one
of their catalogs.
None of the plants survived and only about half (maybe less)
of the bulbs came up. The bulbs also seemed very small
and I think I read somewhere that this is a sign that the
bulbs have not matured enough to bloom.
The prices seem to be good, but if you factor in the survival
rate and time invested -- it's not a deal. I'm better off paying
premium prices at my nursery for good quality plants and bulbs.

Evelyn Walker reports:

I have ordered perinnals from Michigan Bulb company, the first year
the blooms are not so big, but usually the second year it is bigger,
If you plant them in a fertilized area the plants do a lot better.
I have shasta daisies, carnations, guardinalla or whatever. I was
really pleased with it. I plan on getting a few more for some bare spots
in my yard

Spring 1995: Lorraine Venner (lorraine@brt.com) reports:

Plants look really bad when you get them/.  Both my sister & I
have had good luck w/ them though.  They are really inexpensive
compared to other mail order places I have seen - so as long as they
grow well.. looks aren't as important.  They were hardy enough to
make it through the unexpected hail storm we had (First time we
had *any* hail/snow/ice in the last 8 years (before that I lived elsewhere).

You do get *lots* of mail from them.

Home depot can be cheaper for some plants

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Breck's Bulbs

U.S. Reservation Center
6523 North Galena Rd.
Peoria, IL 61632
Orders: (309) 689-3870

Breck's sells bulbs imported from Holland: tulips, crocuses, daffodils, etc.

OPINION: Overall, I am not terribly impressed with Breck's. Their
merchandise (contrary to the catalog hype) is not particularly premium, but
their prices are higher than most places, even some places which have
superior stock. They do not list hardiness for anything, though most of what
they sell should do fine most places in the U.S. (they don't sell any of the
really tender bulbs, like glads). You can do better elsewhere.

Note that Breck's Bulbs appears to be the same company, or closely
associated with, Spring Hill, another company on my "Avoid" list.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mail Order Catalogs
How to Contact Them
And Opinions Thereof

If you have had experience with any mail-order company, good or bad, I want
to hear about it! Your experiences will help other gardeners. Please, send
any comments you have to me, at the above E-mail address. I'll include them
in the on-line database, unless you don't want me to. Send comments,
corrections, and additions to p-leppi@uiuc.edu.

I know of only a few companies with E-mail addresses. If you know of others,
please let me know. It would be really nice to have a list of places to buy
plants via E-mail (or get information, for that matter).

In the USENET version of the FAQ, I'll give only names, to save space. You
can E-mail me for more information on any listed company.

For each company, I will list their name, mailing address, phone number, a
general description of what they sell, and my opinions. Opinions are
strictly mine, unless otherwise noted. I will not indicate an opinion unless
I have actually ordered something from a company, unless the opinion is
someone else's.  [Comments]  means that comments exist for this company,
 [+]  means that this company is recommended, based on my personal
experience,  [-]  means that this company is NOT recommended, based on my
personal experience, and  [Order]  means I have personally ordered from this
company.

For a more extensive list of catalogs, see Cyndi Johnson's catalog list.
Over 700 catalogs, but beware....not all browsers can load the whole list
(250K)....

   * Abby Rose Gardens
        o Roses
   * Aitken's Salmon Creek Garden
        o Irises
        o Orchids
   * Antique Rose Emporium  [Comments]
        o Old Garden Roses
   * Arena's Rose Company  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * The Aril Patch
        o Aril Irises
   * B & D Lilies  [Comments]
        o Lilies
   * The Banana Tree, Inc.  [Comments]
        o Rare Seeds
   * Bear Creek Nursery
   * John and Janet Benz  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Bluestone Perennials  [Comments]
        o Perennials
        o Shrubs
   * Breck's Bulbs  [Comments]   [-]   [Order]
        o Bulbs
   * Bridges Roses
        o Mini Roses
   * Burpee
        o Seeds
        o Plants
        o Supplies
   * Busse Gardens  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Caprice Farm Nursery
        o Peonies
        o Daylilies
        o Irises
   * Carlton Rose Nurseries
        o Roses
   * Cascade Forestry Nursery
   * Chamblee's Rose Nursery
        o Mini Roses
        o Old Garden Roses
   * Charlotte's Gardens  [Comments]
        o Heirloom Seeds
   * Clean Shaven Iris
        o Siberian Irises
   * Cook's Garden  [Comments]
        o Seeds
   * Cooley's
        o Tall Bearded Irises
   * Cordon Bleu Farms  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Corn Hill Nurseries  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * Corner Oaks Garden  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Country Bloomers Nursery  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * The Crownsville Nursery  [Comments]
   * C.W.S. Roses
        o Mini Roses
   * David Austin Roses Limited
        o Roses
   * Daylily Discounters  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Daylily World  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Georges Delbard
        o Roses
   * Draycott Gardens
        o Siberian Irises
   * Dutch Gardens, Inc.  [Comments]
        o Bulbs
   * Edmund's Roses  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * Ensata Gardens
        o Japanese Irises
   * Filaree Farm  [Comments]
   * The Flowery Branch  [Comments]
   * Flowers 'n Friends Miniature Roses
        o Mini Roses
   * Floyd Cove Nursery  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Forestfarm
   * Four Seasons Nursery
        o Nursery Stock
        o Supplies
   * Fungi Perfecti
        o Fungus
   * Gardens Alive
        o Organic Gardening Supplies
   * Gardener's Eden
        o Supplies
   * Gardener's Supply Co.  [Comments]   [+]   [Order]
        o Supplies
   * Gilbert H Wild and Son, Inc.  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
        o Peonies
   * Giles Ramblin' Roses
        o Roses
   * Girard Nurseries  [Comments]
        o Azaleas
   * Gurney's  [Comments]   [Order]
        o Seeds
        o Plants
        o Supplies
   * Hall's Flower Garden  [Comments]
        o Irises
   * Hardy Roses for the North  [Comments]
        o Own-Root Roses
   * Heirloom Old Garden Roses  [Comments]   [+]   [Order]
        o Old Roses
   * Henry Field's  [Comments]
        o Seeds
        o Plants
        o Bulbs
   * Heritage Rosarium  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * Heritage Rose Gardens  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * Hidden Garden Nursery
        o Mini Roses
   * Holland Bulb Farms
        o Bulbs
   * Hortico  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * J.L. Hudson, Seedsman  [Comments]
        o Seeds
   * Hydrofarm  [Comments]
        o Hydroponics
   * Clause Jardin
        o Roses
   * Jackson & Perkins  [Comments]
        o Roses
        o Plants
   * Johnny's Selected Seeds
   * J. W. Jung Seed & Nursery [Comments]
        o Seeds
        o Nursery Stock
        o Supplies
   * Justice Miniature Roses
        o Mini Roses
   * Klehm Nursery
        o Peonies
   * Kordes  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * Ladybug Beautiful  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Langenbach
        o Tools
   * Lee Valley Tools Ltd.
        o Supplies
   * Lenington Gardens  [Comments]
        o Plants
   * Lilypons Water Gardens
        o Pond Supplies
   * Logee's Greenhouses  [Comments]
        o Plants
   * Louisiana Nursery
        o Louisiana Irises
   * Lowe's Own-Root Roses  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * Martha S. Davies Antique Roses  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * McDaniel's Miniature Roses
        o Mini Roses
   * Mendocino Heirloom Roses  [Comments]
        o Bulbs
   * Michigan Bulb Co.  [Comments]   [-]   [Order]
        o Bulbs
        o Perennials
   * Michigan Miniature Roses
        o Mini Roses
   * Milaeger's Gardens  [Comments]
        o Perennials
        o Daylilies
        o Grasses
   * J.E. Miller Nurseries, Inc  [Comments]
        o Fruit Trees
   * Miller's Manor Gardens
        o Irises
        o Daylilies
        o Hosta
   * Bryant Millikan  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Mini Rose Garden
        o Mini Roses
   * Monarch Daylily Garden  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * National Arbor Day Foundation  [Comments]   [Order]
        o Trees
   * Netherland Bulb Co.  [Comments]
        o Bulbs
   * New Holland Bulb Co.
        o Bulbs
        o Perennials
   * Nor'East Miniature Roses, Inc.  [Comments]   [+]   [Order]
        o Mini Roses
   * Northern Grown Perennials  [Comments]
        o Perennials
   * Northwoods Retail Nursery
        o Nursery Stock
   * Oakes Daylilies  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Ohio Gardens
        o Mini Tall Bearded Irises
   * Olallie Daylily Gardens  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Oregon Miniature Roses
        o Mini Roses
   * Paradise Water Gardens
        o Pond Supplies
   * Park Seed Co.  [Comments]
        o Seeds
        o Supplies
   * Pepinieres Louis Lens s.a.  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * Perpetual Perennials  [Comments]
   * Perry's Water Gardens
        o Pond Supplies
   * Peter Beales Roses
        o Roses
   * Pickering Nurseries, Inc.  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * Pinetree Garden Seeds
        o Books
        o Seeds
        o Supplies
   * Quality Dutch Bulbs
        o Bulbs
   * Raintree Nursery  [Comments]
        o Perennials
   * Rialto Gardens  [Comments]
        o Reblooming Irises
   * Richters  [Comments]
        o Herbs
   * Rock Bottom Farms  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Rosengaertnerei Kalbus  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * Roses Of Yesterday And Today  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * Roses Unlimited
        o Roses
   * The Rosseraie At Bayfields  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * Royall River Roses  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * Santa Barbara Water Gardens
        o Pond Supplies
   * John Scheepers, Inc  [Comments]
        o Bulbs
   * Schreiner's
        o Tall Bearded Irises
   * R. Seawright  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Seeds of Change  [Comments]
        o Seeds
   * Seed Savers Exchange  [Comments]
        o Seed Exchange
   * Sequoia Nursery/Moore Miniature Roses  [Comments]
        o Mini Roses
   * Shady Oaks Nursery  [Comments]
   * Shepherd's Garden Seeds  [Comments]   [+]   [Order]
        o Seeds
   * Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery
   * Slocum Water Gardens
        o Pond Supplies
   * Smith & Hawken
        o Supplies
   * Soules Gardens  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Spring Hill  [Comments]   [-]   [Order]
        o Plants
   * Stark Brothers  [Comments]   [+]   [Order]
        o Fruit Trees
   * Stephens Lane Gardens  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Sunshine Farm & Garden  [Comments]
        o 10,000 Hardy Plants
   * Taylor's Roses  [Comments]
        o Mini Roses
   * Territorial Seed Co.
        o Seeds
        o Supplies
   * Tetra Pond
        o Pond Supplies
   * Texas Mini Roses
        o Mini Roses
   * Tiny Petals Miniature Rose Nursery  [Comments]
        o Mini Roses
   * Trans-Pacific Nursery Collectors
   * Trophy Roses, LTD
        o Roses
   * Van Bourgondien Bros  [Comments]
        o Bulbs
   * Van Dyek's Flower Farm
        o Bulbs
   * Van Engelen  [Comments]
        o Wholesale Bulbs
   * Van Ness Water Gardens
        o Pond Supplies
   * The Vermont Wildflower Farm  [Comments]
        o Wildflowers
   * Vintage Gardens  [Comments]
        o Roses
   * Waterford Gardens
        o Pond Supplies
   * Wayside Gardens  [Comments]
   * Weiss Brothers Nursery  [Comments]
   * Whatley Gardens  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * White Flower Farm  [Comments]   [+]   [Order]
        o Ornamental Perennials
        o Bulbs
        o Supplies
   * Wildseed Farms, Inc.
        o Wildflower Seeds
   * Wimberlyway Gardens  [Comments]
        o Daylilies
   * Woodlanders, Inc.
        o Native Plants
   * Woodside - a private garden  [Comments]
        o Daylilies

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
But Before We Go....

I hope this FAQ has been useful. I also hope it has been accurate. If you
find any mistakes, or have any comments, please send me E-mail at the
address listed at the top of the file. Any suggestions for improving future
editions will be happily accepted, and possibly even acted upon.

Please send all suggestions, comments, corrections, and so forth to
p-leppi@uiuc.edu

For the full listing of catalogs, with comments, see the WWW version of this
FAQ at http://seidel.ncsa.uiuc.edu/PBM-FAQ/Default.html. If you don't have
WWW access, send E-mail to me listing which companies you want more
information on, and I'll send you the full listings.

-- 
	                                   Peter Leppik--  p-leppi@uiuc.edu
Lost in the Information Supercollider

http://seidel.ncsa.uiuc.edu/

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM