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I think we should share warnings against the places that refuse to ship to California or charge such exorbitant shipping costs that they might as well be refusing. It's positively heartbreaking to find wonderful plants on a Website and then learn at the last minute that you can't have them.
On the other hand, there are nurseries (notably in Canada) that I have always avoided because I assumed the shipping costs would be too high. Recently, however, I shopped online at Beaver Creek Greenhouses and Alpines Mont Echo (both Canadian) and found to my surprise that they charge less for deliveries to California than many U.S. nurseries do.
I ordered from about ten online nurseries this year and most of their shipping charges were not too bad. This is a great time to order, actually earlier, as it is too early for the eastern gardeners but most stuff is available. Digging Dog, Yucca Do, Joy Creek, Heronswood, Forest Farm, TransPacific and a couple of others orders have all come in and the plants were in great shape. The rest should be here shortly. The nice thing about mail order is the plants come in small containers so they are easier to plant.
I found the same thing w/berry bushes and some trees. I thought boysenberries were originally developed here in So. Cal. and then I tried to order some from Raintree Nurseries in Wa. and they said not to Cal. I also had been looking at a Snow Fountain Flowering Cherry tree(Prunus x 'Snofozam") and found it in several catalogs for the past couple years but they would not ship it to Cal. Then this spring I found it here at Lowes! Boy I bought that up quick and it looks lovely. I hope it makes it through the hot summer here though.
You have to check regularly with the local nurseries. They get a great variety of plants in over the season. Some are only available for a few weeks. The three wholesalers that supply plants in this area, San Marcos, Native Sons, and Monterey Bay have huge lists of plants they grow, but when you check the availability, the list is fairly short. It changes dramatically during the year. So, often times you order something by mail and then there it is at the local nursery at half the price. Botanical Garden sales are partially used as a testing ground for new plants by growers. Some plants I have bought have shown up a few months later in the nurseries.
Ollalie berries are pretty much a bare-root item, just the leftovers are potted up.
I think some of the refusals are due to state laws. I was on one site recently (have to try and relocate it) that said they could ship to CA only before a certain date. Makes me think there might be some pest problem after that, though it didn't say so. This thread is a great idea, ZuZu.
California is very restrictive about plant importation. From what I understand, the limitations vary depending on the state that the plants are coming from and the individual plants in question. Some states are known to have certain plant diseases or pests that California does not want to import (especially given the states agricultural industry).
In some cases, the nursery can get approval to send plants, but only if they get a phytosanitary certificate first. I have heard that this is very expensive, which probably makes shipping to California unattractive to some nurseries.
Washing the plants is probably a precaution against soil-born diseases.
Chuck 1260, every nursery you mention is on my permanent list of suppliers, so you probably would enjoy doing business with Edelweiss, Big Dipper Farms, and Parkdale Gardens too. They are my favorites. Parkdale doesn't have online ordering, but the selection and the prices are worth the trouble of sending in an order form and a check, just as we all used to do before computers.
Kaperc, the date probably was 3/16. Our laws are very strict about pests and diseases and they got even stricter on that date. Unless a nursery is inspected regularly, it can't send any soil to California. That usually doesn't matter in the case of succulents or alpines, which can be shipped in a soil-less mixture. The big nurseries (some good ones and some bad ones) already have regular inspections and don't have to charge an extra fee for the phytosanitary certificates. They must be fairly cheap though, because I have paid the extra charge to several nurseries this year and the price of the certificate has never exceeded $5.
It's mostly a problem of changeable laws. Some nurseries probably get sick of keeping track of the changes and just decide to cut out the West Coast entirely. Washington seems to be getting shut out on more Websites than California this year. They must have passed some draconian laws recently.
Evermay Nursery and Munchkin Nursery will not ship anything to California. Roslyn Nursery will, but the shipping charge is 50% of the total plant cost and it will not guarantee the survival of the plants. Mellinger's, which apparently has been taken over by Harris Seeds, will send only seeds to California. It will not send plants.
Eastern Plant Specialties did not exclude California in the shipping information on its Website, but after I sent an e-mail inquiring about the availability of some plants, they replied that they can't ship to California.
One of the costs of living in an agriculturally based state gang. But I know what you mean. I've called nurseries all excited and have been told either they won't use the chemicals they need to use to send plants to California or the hassle. Strange since so many chemicals aren't allowed into California.
I am grateful to the places that will take the trouble. I did want to order some Iris from Australia and they told me that it would cost $75 AUS to send them because of the certificates they would have to get, that it would only work if I bought less than 12, and that I would have to arrange certificates into California by myself. They specialize in Pacific Coast Iris. Isn't that ironic?
I have bought seeds from a number of places overseas, some talk about certificates and some don't. No one seems to be too worried about shipping seeds to California. But perhaps seeds are different. I have run across several nurseries in Florida that say they will not ship to California and then many nurseries will not ship specific items to California. Certain grapes, certain noxious weeds, and so on. The cost for certificates is all over the map. Some as much or more than the seeds. I am not at all sure whether I even need a certificate for seeds.