Due to illness in the family, Seneca Hills Perennials is now closed. The editors of the Garden Watchdog wish them all the best.
Company Comment, posted on March 20, 2009:
We grow unusual US natives (asclepias and clematis in particular), hardy plants from South Africa's Drakensberg (kniphofia, eucomis and more), hardy cyclamen, species peonies, gorgeous selections of Arum italicum and Arisaema consanguineum, and a great deal more. Unlike most nurseries, we do not buy in mass-market plants from wholesale growers and grow them on for distribution: we propagate virtually everything we grow, obtaining seeds and other propagative material from collectors around the world.
frahnzone5 Bensenville, IL (Zone 5a) (16 reviews) May 6, 2010
I have ordered from Ellen's nursery for several years and have never been disappointed. Her selection is always unique. I like that she is located in a cold climate (upper state NY) so the plants are already acclimatized to my weather here in Chicago. Today I received my order and as usual her packing is impeccable so her plants, which are always a nice size and healthy, arrived in great shape.
dbarron Hindsville, AR (Zone 6b) (10 reviews) February 11, 2010
Posted on September 11, 2002, updated February 11, 2010
Ellen is a great person to deal with. You never know what new plants will appear in the list next time (as she puts it, "I grow what I like, and that changes from year to year" (db If I misquoted...I got close)). Among her specialties (recently) have been cyclamens, aroids, hellebores, and various south african plants (esp kniphofias).On February 11th, 2010, dbarron added the following:
I continue to give business to this nursery (I think it must be something close to 15 years now?) and will continue to do so. Ellen remains wonderful to deal with...(even when faced with persnickety customers (like me)) and some very unusual plants can be accquired there.
dlefferts Agawam, MA (Zone 6a) (26 reviews) October 31, 2009
Recommend. Order was filled exactly as requested. All aspects of order handled as anyone wish. Would order from again.
juanwillis Winchester, MA (Zone 6a) (28 reviews) September 7, 2009
I love, love, love Seneca Hill Perennials; they've become one of my favorite sources for hard-to-find gems. I've received four different orders from them, all of which had healthy, well-grown plants (and their dormant Arisaema tubers are sizable). When I've had questions, Ellen has been great to correspond with via e-mail. I also appreciate that their online catalog is unusually candid and accurate (rather than the overwrought exaggerations you often find in catalogs).
I *highly* recommend this nursery.
grrrlgeek Grayslake, IL (Zone 5a) (5 reviews) May 25, 2009
Nice selection and some unusual varieties of native plants, and everything I wanted in stock. They check your order when you send it and email you back with availability in case of outs, which is very nice (with many places you don't know until you get your order). Shipping actually not too bad for plants shipped in pots. Packed so well, still fresh looking when I got them. Some definitely larger than expected. Everything doing well even though I haven't had the time to baby them the way I'd like.
I ordered just one bulb from Seneca Hill Perennials, a company new to me, because I decided to start testing companies out before placing larger orders.
(Should have just checked out the Watchdog.)
Anyhow, I am very pleased with Seneca Hill. They shipped timely and the bulb they sent was very large and fresh-looking, and is even now sending up big healthy leaves. I try to buy as locally as possible, but for Seneca Hill I will make an exception and certainly order from them again.
My experience with Seneca Hills has been very good.
I ordered several Lathyrus vernus 'Flaccidus' from this site, and not only were they packed very well, but the plants were healthy, and much, much larger than I had anticipated! A very welcome surprise.
Also, Ellen was very helpful and accommodating about a delivery date change.
I ordered some really hard to find stuff from these folks ( Brunsvigia seedlings, Haemanthus ) last month. Shipping was far from cheap given the size of the plants, but they were packed extremely well ( bare rooted ) and all arrived in great condition. Some of the plants were larger than I had been led to expect, and all appeared healthy.
This nursery carries some unusual plants. Communication was great and although shipping is a bit high it was worth it for the unusual plants. My order came bareroot and well packed.
NativeSusan Decatur, GA (Zone 7b) (7 reviews) March 9, 2009
I was looking everywhere for white milkweeds (Asclepias variegata), and this company was one of the only places I could find them. They sell a lot of plants, but I was happy to see that they sold many kinds of native plants. They had excellent communication with me, and the plants came right on time. The specimens were very healthy and packaged very well. I will definitely be buying from them again.
the arum and tricyrtis i ordered from them were well rooted and healthy plants. great job !
ge1836 Pittsford, NY (Zone 6a) (24 reviews) May 7, 2008
This nursery does a great job.
Let me know when the plants would arrive, and they did.
Packing was great, all plants were fresh and moist.
I'll plant right away.
Definatly worth a second season with me.
Gerris2 Wilmington, DE (Zone 7a) (12 reviews) June 23, 2007
I bought an Incarvillea mairei plant and a couple bulbs. The plant was huge for a mail order plant and bulbs were firm. It was a great first impression and I will return in the fall. Highly recommend this fine nursery, they offer really rare plants!
kkirschbaum Yonkers, NY (Zone 6b) (26 reviews) June 5, 2007
I ordered a number of items earlier this spring all of which arrived in good condition. They were small, but they all seem to have taken. In fact, when they shipped the order, they sent an email explaining that they charged me less for the Fillipendula I ordered because they deemed it to be smaller than usual. That said, it's filled in very well. The only pity about Seneca Hill is that they are in my home state -- so they have to charge me sales tax. Nevertheless, I really like that they have such a selection of unusual plants.
I ordered 4 perennials from Seneca Hill. Shortly after I placed my I order I received an email letting me know that the plants had been reserved for me. The plants were shipped exactly when I requested and they all looked great when they arrived.
I ordered online from Seneca Hill March 20th, after doing a search for a particular plant. I received a personal order acknowledgement from the owner within minutes, verifying my preferred delivery week of April 30th. A few days later, I received a copy of the current Spring catalog, which I had not requested, but which I was glad to get.
I received my shipment yesterday, May 2nd. The box was in perfect condition and the plants were well-packed and still moist enough that the moss growing on the soil surfaces of each pot was actually blooming (or whatever that is that moss does)! The plants have about 4 inches of top growth, enough that I can see that these are indeed the ones I wanted; a very fair size for the price.
So: excellent online ordering, great follow-up, great delivery experience. I will be taking a closer look at the catalog/ website of Seneca Hill, and will be confident of a good experience when I place further orders.
Communication from the vendor was good and plants received were healthy and well packaged. They definitely cater to the collector and recognize you are paying a premium for certain plants due to their rarity. I would order again from this vendor.
SuzyMcQ New Cumberland, PA (1 review) February 20, 2007
It's been five years since my first "review" of Seneca Hills. Ellen's offerings, prices and size of plants continue to amaze and astonish me. Her perennials, trees, shrubs and bulbs are lovingly packaged and sent with care. Customer service is unequalled and personal. Every Spring's catalog is a wonder and an education. The newly designed website is well constructed and easily navigated. Getting my annual order from Seneca Hills continues to be the high point of my Spring plant ordering frenzy!!!
davidrt28 Columbia, MD (Zone 7a) (7 reviews) December 31, 2006
In over fifteen years of ordering mail order plants from more than 25 different companies, I'd place this nursery in the top 10th percentile, along with stalwarts such as Woodlanders. Exceptional positives: rarity of some items, reasonable prices for the rarity of some items, the best customer communication I've ever encountered. Positives: very good packaging and shipping, overall value of material offered, both horticulturally and economically...though not as extensive as some, you could still make almost an entire garden out of her offerings. Another positive is the apparent willingness to grow enough of a given plant to meet demand...you seldom have the disppointment of a rarity being sold out. Neutrals: the only one I've seen posted here that I might agree with is that a very few plants are sometimes grown in pots that are quite small. They demand more careful and prompt handling but I've only had one loss in many years of ordering. Given the more experienced background I suspect is possessed by her average customer, these small pots are a reasonable trade-off to obtain, for example, Cyclamen graecum for a price less than what any other nursery in the country was offering for blooming sized plants. But I've never received a listing that was frankly a seedling, as I have from some other nurseries.
Revnrose Clinton, NY (Zone 5a) (10 reviews) June 1, 2006
Easily the healthiest plants to arrive this spring. They have established well, despite the weird weather of central New York. Packed perfectly.
Penelopeann West Des Moines, IA (9 reviews) May 8, 2006
My plants arrived big and beautiful and healthy as always...I love this place and the people are fantastic with good communications.
Ellen at Senecca Hill is great. I ordered three Sanguinaria canadensis multiplex from her and she was great about e-mail confirmation and even moving the shipping date up a week. They arrived in good shape and nicely packaged and I was really happy with their size as well as the fact that they had just started blooming. I planted them two days ago and they are doing fine. They were by far the most reasonably priced of this hard to find variety so I was really happy with the whole process. I highly recommend Senecca Hill!
Placed order for the first time this year. Rec'd the order just when I wanted it, which is probably earlier than most people plant, but I would rather get a plant that is dormant. Packaged well and priced competetively. On September 7th, 2006, PlantsnobIN added the following:
I placed another order last Friday and rec'd it today. I really needed Dictamnus for some giant swallowtail caterpillars that were fast devouring the only plant I have. Ellen had them and due to her quick shipping the cats will have food. Thanks again.
gardadore Saylorsburg, PA (Zone 6a) (19 reviews) May 23, 2005
Because of all the positive comments I read about this nursery and the fantastic, unusual offerings, I placed an order. The nursery had a particular plant I have been looking everywhere for (berkheya purpurea). I was especially pleased with the superb packaging and size of the plants. I will definitely order from this nursery again. Ellen Hornig was very helpful in answering my questions and explaining about some of the unusual plants I was not familiar with. She is very good about responding to e-mail. A class act!
I have never seen such careful meticulous wrapping! The plants were healthy and of good size, except for one unfortunate spigelia which hadn't broken the surface and seems to have opted out. But everything else is thriving and healthy and I will definitely order from them again.
Beautiful little plants and very carefully packed so they arrive in excellent condition. The cyclamens I planted last spring bloomed the first fall. And the hellebores that just arrived were far larger than I expected. Prices are very reasonable for the choice vaieties that are being sold and I'm certainly going to order again next year.
Audrey Hadley, PA (Zone 5a) (16 reviews) May 6, 2004
I am very pleased with the service I received from Seneca Hill Perennials. I found the company's web site while doing a Google search for sources of glaucidium palmatum. Since Seneca Hill had the most reasonable price I had found for that plant--and for a number of other unusual shade perennials--I e-mailed them on Monday to inquire whether those I wanted were still available. I received a very prompt response. The plants were mailed to me on Tuesday and I received them today (Thursday). Everything was in fine healthy condition, and very carefully packed. I can almost guarantee that I will be ordering from this company again!
Excellent plant material, packing, timely delivery of shipments, when removing packing it is very evident that each plant has been carefully checked for disease and rot. The prices are reasonable and catalog clearly states the size, requirement for healthy culture of plant. The catalog does not have fancy photos thus great savings in retail prices. They provide excellent information on their plants and if they do not, are't afraid to say so.
I deeply regret that I did not know of this nursery earlier. Over a number of years, I have been completely satisfied with all plants and services of this nursery. I have never had any of their plants to die.
This nursery has some great, unusual plants and are nice to deal with. I ordered a number of things last year. They arrived in great condition but I did not plant right away (that is, I delayed just a few days) and several died when they got in the ground. I plan to order from them again, but I will take extra care with the plants.
I have ordered twice from this nursery. They now have a large catalog and prices seem to have gone up accordingly. The majority of plants received have been very small. Great care must be taken in order to get them to live and they cannot just be "planted out". I would rather pay more, than receive some of the very small plants received. In some instances they must realize that the plants will have difficulty in surviving and send two of the same tiny plants.I do have an interesting Bulgarian Rose that survived as it was bigger than some on arrival, but of two Dutchmen's Pipe vines received last year, one was very tiny and I doubt it will survive.Take great care with the plants from this nursery and you may have better success than I.
dave12122 East Haddam, CT (69 reviews) February 10, 2003
I think this is basically a good source of oddball species(not all of equal value) not offered elsewhere. The plants are well packed (in pots) and there is an effort to send orders the date the customer requests them. Ellen tends to get swept away by certain groups of plants (Kniphofias, Dieramas, Antique Iris and Corydalis are the latest "fads") and offer several species that don't differ a whole lot from each other. Because of the very deep local snowpack where her nursery is located, I would take her hardiness ratings with a grain of salt if you live in an area where there is not consistent snow cover. Most of the plants are small to extremely small and 2-3 years away from blooming. If you want "instant color" in your garden, this nursery is not a good choice for you. On the other hand, there are many species not offered elsewhere IN ANY SIZE, so I guess beggars can't be choosers. Definitely a nursery for the advanced collector...very upscale and preppy.
I've gotten plants from Ellen on several occasions and have always had a positive experience. She seems particularly honest, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic about plants (not all growers are out there!). I've always either gone out to her nursery or purchased from her at hort. events--always good plants, cool and more unusual than average.
blueschiz Landenberg, PA (Zone 6b) (15 reviews) February 20, 2002
I really enjoy this catalog. It is full of new treats for my garden. I often see things I've bought here turn up in higher priced catalogs a couple of years later! Service is friendly and plants are a good size for the price. Packaging is careful and shipping is timely. A treasure of a mail order nursery!
I've dealt with Ellen Hornig (the owner) for 2.5 years now and I've always been very pleased. If out of a smaller size, she has shifted me to the larger size (no increase in price). Her plants always do well (within reason my trying Oklahoma climate). Often you may find things that are relatively obscure for a very good price. I endorse this nursery.
Fantastic, unusual plants reasonably priced and lovingly tended and packed with the utmost of care. Ellen is a knowledgeable plantswoman who specializes in the rare and unusual. Her catalog is always changing, depending on her interests and it is available both online as well as via a paper catalog. One of the best - and I work for a mail-order nursery and know a bit about these things
I can't say enough about how great the plants from this nursery are! I received large, healthy plants packed extremely well. I also thought the prices were VERY reasonable. I think I've hit almost every mail order nursery and this one is by far the best!