I had ordered trees from Stark. Upon opening the box, found all four were placed into an unsealed plastic bag, two without any material around the roots, one with moist paper around roots and one actually potted up. The two trees without any material around the root system appeared dead, but I planted them. No leaves, no buds. The other two that were properly shipped have leafed out. I tried contacting the company three times by email and have had no response. I would like a refund for the dead trees; I know dead when I see it. I have many, many years experience planting trees and transplanting trees. What I would like is some kind of a response from the company. I would never order from them again.
Posted on May 7, 2015, updated May 21, 2015
Outrageous customer service! I put in an order back in April, which arrived, and I quickly planted the trees. A week later I got an email from them telling me that my order was on its way! It turns out a second order had been entered into their system using my credit card. On the phone with the customer rep she made it seem as if it was my fault! Why would I make the same exact order twice within a couple weeks? The solution? I have to sit at home all day Saturday waiting for the FedEx truck to get here, refuse the delivery, then wait for Stark to figure things out and reverse the charge on my credit card. Absolutely insane! Will never do business with them again because (1) their credit card security measures are obviously inadequate, or their Web site has some major problems and (2) blame the customer for what was obviously a screw-up on their end, then ask me to fix it for them? Ludicrous.On May 21st, 2015, furrybill2000 added the following:
So as it turns out you can call FedEx to refuse a shipment and have it turned around from wherever it might be. No need to sit at home all day Saturday...Stark may want to update their customer service rep training to reflect this...
Once Stark knew the package had been refused they refunded my money, have to give them credit for that.
Then I got an email telling me I was getting a $25 certificate for my next order. Today a catalog arrived with the certificate. Knowing that I won't do business with them any more and knowing that they would continue to kill trees by sending me endless catalogs, I called to delete the account. I was told that this is not possible. Yes, they will stop sending catalogs [doubtful] but they REFUSE to delete my personal information from their database.
Plus ca change...Company representative comment on May 8, 2015: On May 8, 2015 10:07 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for leaving your feedback here regarding your recently shipped orders. We take all reviews to heart, as this is our opportunity to improve our service and your experience going forward.
Our customer support manager will reach out to you after she further assesses the situation and gets a clearer view of the issue. We look forward to hearing from you.
I ordered from Stark Bros. because of the generally positive reviews here on Dave's Garden. I have had many bad experiences with mail order garden suppliers and am very leery of ordering by mail.
So far, I'm impressed. When I got the plants, I had the same reaction as many others. I ordered 50 bare-root strawberry plants and 5 bare-root raspberry canes. The strawberries looked barely alive and the raspberries looked completely dead. I'm not new to this, so I was mildly concerned, but not alarmed. I know life can spring from dead-looking things.
The plants came well packaged, with good instructions on how to prepare and plant them. Unfortunately, life intervened and I was not able to plant them until nearly two week later. I was sure I would lose most if not all of them.
That's not what happened. Everyone single one of those plants has not just survived, but thrived. The strawberries were sending out leaves less than 48 hours after I put them in the ground! The raspberries, which were just little sticks with dry looking roots, are growing so vigorously, I may have a small crop of raspberries THIS season!
Moreover, I find their website to be one the best, most information resources on the internet. They are constantly updating it with useful information. I will definitely be ordering from this company again. Thanks to the other Dave's Garden readers that took the time to share their experiences.
I ordered from Stark last year and the trees came through wonderfully. However they didn't make it through the winter and I contacted them and they promptly sent replacements! I will continue to order from them and recommend them to anyone else who wants what they offer.
Have ordered from this company two years now, bare-root, as well as potted. When ordering from them, I have learned that a couple of plants won't make it, so I tend to order a couple more of each. When I have contacted customer service, they are pleasant to work with and will reimburse up to one time for any plants that don't make it.
I ordered plants from Exciting Gardens on April 11, and I ordered from Burpee and Stark on April 24th. Stark promptly shipped my order (within three days), and the plants arrived packed nicely, and looking quite healthy. Was able to get everything in the ground right away, just in time for warmer weather and a rainy week. Buds are developing on my trees, and strawberries are leafing out nicely, already. Quite pleased with both the shipping speed, and condition of the plants/trees. Have also ordered in the past from Stark, with no problems. (True that trees' branches are mostly removed; but they seem to branch out just fine afterward.) My orders from the other two companies still haven't shipped--I'm hoping they decide to before we start getting hot, dry weather. I will order from Stark again, in the future.
I've just planted them, so hopefully they grow it it turns out ok in the end. I like the varieties of fruit trees available, but the "professional pruning" is a horrible misnomer! The trees were not pruned! The branches were all cut off. I bought 8 bare root fruit trees, 3 of them have 3-4 branches about 3 inches long, the other trees were straight sticks. On the website they say something like: "don't worry about pruning during the first year, we've taken care of that." All they have done is make the trees branchless and easy to ship. 9 trees, 3 grape plants and 24 raspberry plants were jammed into two 9 x 9 inch boxes. No branches at all. I even ordered the "supreme" trees, wanting to get these things growing as quick as I can. This whole first year will be used to try to get a few branches on, which I will then need to prune to what it was supposed to be like upon arrival. Super lame. My suggestion: shop elsewhere.
bckkiller1 Lexington, VA (3 reviews) April 20, 2015
I have no problem with this company who ships appropriately sized bare root product and anyone who calls them a stick thinks that's Lowes root bound trees are a good product.
Stark ships timely and provides a good product and I have never had a problem with their one year gurantee. I have had great experience with customer service and good luck with their online question forum.
If I had to list one negative is that once I ordered a thornless boysenberry to get one with thorns and then have their customer support tell me they didn't sell a thornless one until I had them google it and there name was first in the product line. Other than that beautiful experience witll well packed and dampened trees. I have only ever ordered fruit trees from them and I have 41 standard fruit trees of which they make up about half as they have a decent selection
I've had nothing but great experiences with Stark Brothers. My great grandfather planted the old family orchard through them almost 100 years ago and today I'm proud to use them for the vast majority of my trees and plants.
I've had issues getting many things to take root and survive and without even an ounce of doubt, they quickly ship replacements for me. There have been times, while frustrating, that orders have been delayed due to weather or inventory issues, but they always have the best interests of the plant at heart. Sometimes I get impatient but they are delaying it to make certain I have the best chance of the plant surviving. As I write this I'm looking forward to receiving more plants form them this wekeend and planting those.
Stark Brothers is reliable and stand by their products. Every single time I've had them not survive within that first year, they are happy to send a replacement no questions asked. Their customer support and guidance is top notch as well.
Also check out their blog as it has lots of cool articles in it.
I ordered a dwarf meyer lemon tree toward the end of this winter. I was told it would ship on March 22. It did not ship. I called the company and was told it would ship on March 31, due to weather conditions in my area (I am located on Long Island in New York). I can understand that of course, as we had a harsh winter. But now it's a normal spring temperature and Stark continues to use temperature as an excuse. I emailed the company and was told it would ship early this week and I'd have an email confirmation informing me. Nothing. I called 2 days ago to check the order status and was told it would ship yesterday and I'd have an email confirmation yesterday to inform me, and the customer service person guaranteed it would be shipping yesterday. Obviously it did not. I have heard several times recently that this is how Stark has been conducting their business. 4 times they changed my delivery date? Not acceptable, and each time I speak with them, they act like I'm the one who is wrong. There are no excuses now - the temperatures are fine for shipping the plants, and I have already decided that whether the plant is in good condition or not upon arrival (if ever), I will never be placing another order with Stark again, nor will I recommend this company to anyone else. This is among the worst customer service I've experienced, and I have ordered trees/plants online before from other companies and have been satisfied.
PoorWolf Melody Hill, IN (2 reviews) April 8, 2015
After a physical condition limited my gardening ability and budget, I was able to justify one more order from Stark. I ordered 6 dwarf supreme fruit trees, with the website stating professional pruning was included as a free service. After several years of buying from Stark with great satisfaction, what I received were 6 odd "clubs". Dwarf Supreme is described as 4-5ft stock, professionally trimmed, what I received were best described as clubs, 2-3 ft bare root, trunk only, with all branches cut to the trunk. Disappointed after years of satisfaction, I called to complain, and to their credit, Stark Bros immediately reshipped the entire order, but out of 6 trees again only 1 had any branches, and out of 4 branches 2 were broken off. With a scratch test, most seem to have promise of survival, but it will be at least 4 to 5 years for them to have any sort of branching structure, let alone blooming or any fruit production. The trees were literally pruned to death, seemed that 6 trees had all possible branches cut off only to fit into 1 box, rather than ship in two or three boxes. I spoke to Carla, a polite, most helpful customer service employee that reshipped the order and I received it in only 3 days, but again, pruned to death, with 6 trees received and only 1 with any sort of branch structure. It was easily seen that several large branches had been cut off each tree, apparently with a SawsAll, to fit the entire order in one box, leaving a 2 1/2 ft bare root tree with an also trimmed 3-4inch trimmed root structure just buzzed off. I hate so much to leave a negative review of Stark Brothers after years of doing business, but feel the need to urge others to not put on their boots and be ready to plant their order when it's received. I have 5 trees in the ground that seemed to be ready to plant, and the rest are in flower pots on my patio to be pampered and encouraged to grow, not what I expected for "Dwarf Supreme" prices from Stark Brothers. A few are trying to break dormancy, with small buds, but the rest show no promise after a week in ground. I hope for the best, and can't complain about customer service, but I strongly urge Stark Brothers to STOP the drastic pruning, and ship in 2 or 3 boxes if necessary, just to send products worthy of their name.
Posted on August 25, 2014, updated April 1, 2015
Posted on August 16, 2014, updated August 25, 2014
I desperately want to like this company and be a regular customer of Stark Brothers. Everything in their catalog looks so tantalizing and they offer so many varieties at the click of a mouse, but my experience with them has been all bad. I have planted pear, apple, nut, and cherry trees under ideal growing conditions and had a 100% mortality rate. Something is wrong. The trees do fine the first summer, leaf out the second spring, then die the second summer in spite of adequate rainfall and watering and 2 summers that haven\\\'t been very hot. I spray consistently. I am losing the trees too late to take advantage of their satisfaction guarantee policy of 1 year.I have written to the company and recieved a prompt response but a very defensive one. Companion trees purchased at Lowe\\\'s are flourishing next to the dead Stark Brothers trees. I really don\\\'t believe that the cold winter or my gardening practices are responsible for 100% mortality for Starks and 0 % for Lowe\\\'s. Apple trees that won\\\'t grow in the Blue Ridge mountains? A lilac shrub I bought from (tiny, tiny) died as well. Be prepared to be disappointed and waste your money and precious time when ordering from this company. I am very sorry to say this, but it is what happened to me.On August 25th, 2014, tooner2 changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Since I posted my negative review on this site, Stark Brothers has been trying to work with me. They have offered to refund or replace the trees. I am going to accept 2 trees, plant them in pots, give them extra attention, and see if I can get them to live and grow over the next year. Will change the review to positive if that works. On April 1st, 2015, tooner2 changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:
I can report that the apple tree replacement is sending out shoots from below the graft and nothing else so far. I have photos I'd like to have attached showing the difference between the replacement cherry tree I received from Stark Brothers and the new cherry I ordered from Willis Brothers. Wow, what a difference in both top growth and root system! Stark Brothers continues to be a disappointment. It's good that they sent the replacement, but the poor quality of it makes me change my rating back to negative. I'm finished with this company for good. Company representative comment on August 20, 2014: On Aug 20, 2014 11:56 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for leaving your feedback here regarding your fruit trees. We apologize that you feel dissatisfied with the response from our customer support manager regarding our limited warranty. Our Promise of Satisfaction states that you are eligible for a free one-time replacement -- or a refund of your full purchase price (if you don't want a replacement) -- as long as it is requested within a year of delivery.
Our customer support manager will reach out to you again after she further assesses the situation and gets a clearer view of the issue. We look forward to hearing from you.
I've ordered from Stark's 3 times now, once back when it was Miller Nursery. I've had really good communication and good to excellent quality plants each time.
I've had two problems with them: shipping, which as another reviewer mentioned, you can simply request for them to ship later and they will, and raspberry canes.
I ordered raspberries last year, and as dormant plants do, they looked like dead sticks. Planted them, got a few leaves, and then really heavy rain. I have clay soil...They drowned. I called and Stark's sent me more. I attempted again, and dug them all up after 6 weeks. In my terrible soil, the roots had turned to mush. Lesson learned: select plants suitable to your soil type! The only raspberries I have success with here is potted ones.
However, roses are notably finicky and I ordered a Peace Rose off my first order (2011). She is still with me, through TWO replantings due to moving. Bloomed nonstop from May til October this past year. I ordered more roses last year, and despite my dog digging them up and shaking them all over the yard, they went crazy and took off upon replanting.
My new order was a Key Lime Tree, two Cranberry bushes, and a Forest Pansy Redbud. The Lime is way bigger than I expected, and thorned me good getting out of the package. I had no idea it would have thorns, but it looks awesome. The cranberries are potted nicely and seem vigorous. The Redbud is 4' tall but not overly leggy like Big Box store plants. I cannot wait to see it bloom. It is starting to bud already and I hope a late frost doesn't do in the beautiful flowers it is promising.
Stark is now the my preferred company to order from, it just makes life easier. Here's what I've experienced- they have a great variety, their prices are reasonable, the quality is exceptional, and their service is amazing. Almost everything I've ordered from them was healthy and sprung to life after planting, and those that didn't- just give them a call and they'll send a replacement without any hassle. Last year a dwarf peach tree didn't make it, I called and they said a new one would be shipped next season- but they only had that version in standard this year, and Brenda sent me an email about it, and without any fuss added a different variety dwarf (that I liked) to my incoming order this year.
Also, I still have 10" of snow on my property, (plus my land is prone to flooding in early March) so I emailed them and asked to push the shipment date later- again, Brenda responded and pushed the date to April without any hassle. To the complainers here- they can't know your local conditions all over the country- talk to them, believe me, I have, and they have NEVER given me a problem. Again, these are living products, if some die, TALK TO THEM before getting angry, my experience is they want to help.
cjparker Kennewick, WA (Zone 7a) (11 reviews) March 14, 2015
Posted on April 11, 2013, updated March 14, 2015
I have ordered twice a year now from Stark for the past 3 years. Each item I\'ve received is doing fine! I got raspberries the first year I planted the canes, the peach trees are full of blossoms, the Honeycrisp apple tree is growing like mad, the blackberries have come up strong and healthy, and the 2 in 1 plum and 2 in 1 cherry have grown more than expected. I am delighted with the quality of my plants and look forward to reaping the harvest when the trees are mature enough to set fruit. My plants have all arrived in excellent condition, healthy and strong.On March 14th, 2015, cjparker added the following:
As always, another great experience ordering from Stark Bros. My mini-orchard is in full bud, and all trees are beautiful and healthy. Great communications.
cajunmark Denham Springs, LA (1 review) March 14, 2015
I live near Baton Rouge, Louisiana where the weather can be rather intense in the summer. I ordered 11 different fruit and nut trees from Stark Brothers in the spring of 2013. Everything was fine until i planted these plants in the ground. i followed all the directions but i think the heat and humidity from Louisiana got the best of these plants. Of the 11 plants only 3 are left and 2 are barely surviving. My brother planted one of the apple trees across town and it is doing well. I dont know that it is Starks fault or just the area that i live in.
Be careful if you live in a weather environment like central Louisiana.
Here's a list of the plants and their status:
Stark Kwik-Krop Walnut - Dead
Starkrimson Sweet Cherry Semi-Dwarf - Dead
Starkspur Red Rome Beauty Apple Dwarf - Ok
Starkspur Red Rome Beauty Apple Semi-Dwarf - Struggling
Wilson Delicious Apricot Standard - Dead
Stark SweetHeart Apricot Standard - Dead
Burbank July Elberta Peach Standard Supreme - Dead
Readhaven Peach Standard Supreme - Dead
Concord Seedless Grape - Dead
Stark Bountiful Butternut - Barely Alive
Dwarf Banana - Ok
I didn't contact Stark to complain or get my money back because i felt it was the harsh weather hear the did in my plants.
Javerezii Lady Lake, FL (3 reviews) February 28, 2015
Nice people. Wonderful trees. Good service. Fair price. What else could I ask for. Thanks, J.A.jr
I will never order from these people again, I ordered two elderberries, which they shipped OVER A MONTH before my planting season. When I contacted them to complain they condesendingly informed me they "shipped at the proper planting time for your area and if you can't plant dorment plants can be safely stored in your garage".
It wasnt "proper planting time" a little clue there is how none of the three other nurseries I had orders in with have shipped yet and the plants were NOT dorment. The plants themselves seem fine but the customer service here and level of common sense is vile.Company representative comment on February 13, 2015: On Feb 13, 2015 2:50 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for leaving your feedback here regarding your elderberry plants that were recently shipped. We take all reviews to heart, as this is our opportunity to improve our service and your experience going forward.
Our customer support manager will reach out to you after she further assesses the situation and gets a clearer view of the issue. We look forward to hearing from you.
I've never had one second's trouble from Stark Brothers. I have had a couple of trees that didn't make it and both times they sent replacements without any trouble at all, shipped free.
I recommend Stark Brothers nursery without reservation.
josh72 Three Rivers, MI (1 review) December 20, 2014
I was a little surprised to see the number of negative reviews for Stark Bros given my extremely positive experience. I have tried ordering from several nurseries thinking I could get as good of quality at a lower price and ended up coming back to Stark Bros every time. I have ordered everything from blueberries, grapes, and raspberries, to fruit, nut, and flowering landscape trees. I can't say that I have had one bad experience and have been delighted with the quality of product I received. I don't waste my time with other nurseries anymore.
I have purchased many plants from Stark Brothers nursery with great satisfaction. I would recommend them to anyone. Plants are always well packed and delivered in a timely manner by FedEx. I have been very pleased with the instructions and the results. They are without a doubt my go to plant company.
troman1973 Bellwood, NE (Zone 5a) (8 reviews) July 28, 2014
I wouldnt have posted negative other than the customer service I received at the end. I ordered a Cherry Tree, A locust and 6 raspberry plants. The trees came healty enough, a bit small for the price I paid, the both of my trees are alive and seem healthy. That is all I ask from mail order I dont expect huge trees.
What I am disppointed in is the raspberries they came looking very dead, but I know with raspberries they can look like that but spring back to life when planted. So I planted the first 6 and nothing came up. I called back they said they would replace them. They did, but when I got the 6 new raspberries they looked just as dead, but I planted them any ways because I really wanted them. This time I waited over 2 months and nothing. I didnt expect ALL of them to grow but out of the 12 I got, I thought maybe ONE would have made it. I called customer service to see what could be done and was told fairly rudely that was all that could be done. So i have 12 dead sticks that I paid for. The money was not that great but it was idea that you can send someone dead stuff twice and not stand behind it. I told them I had planned on putting in future orders with the company but now I will not because I cant trust what I will get and they dont stand behind it. Company representative comment on July 28, 2014: On Jul 28, 2014 1:44 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for leaving your feedback here regarding your bare-root raspberry plants. We take all reviews to heart, as this is our opportunity to improve our service and your experience going forward.
Our bare-root raspberry plants are dormant when they arrive to you. The new growth often comes from the roots of the bare-root raspberry plants (a difference from most other fruiting plants and trees) and not always from the canes above the ground. What stimulates the new growth is pruning at planting time. Were you instructed to prune your bare-root raspberry plants’ canes back to 2-inches above the soil on your replacement plants? We apologize that you feel dissatisfied with your raspberry plants and also your experience with our customer support team. While we have upheld our warranty* when we replaced your raspberry plants, our customer support manager will be reaching out to you regarding your issue and we hope we are able work with you to improve your experience with our company.
*Our Promise of Satisfaction states that if for any reason you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, let us know within a year of delivery and we will send you a free one-time replacement or refund your full purchase price if you don't want a replacement.
In 2013 I placed an order 976465 with Stark Brothers for two grape plants "Somerset Seedless". This year the vines had grapes and every grape has at least two large seeds in them. So either Somerset was really not a seedless grape or they supplied the wrong grapes. I e-mailed them about the problem several days ago (twice). They have evidently decided to ignore my e-mail. It would be nice and only fair to hear from them and either get replacement "seedless" grapes to take the place of these or a credit. At this point I have to say my experience is ***NEGATIVE*** due to misadvertised product and unresponsive customer service.Company representative comment on July 28, 2014: On Jul 28, 2014 12:55 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
We apologize that you did not receive a timely response to your inquiry. Our customer support manager has replied to you as of last week in regard to your seedless grapes developing seeds. We hope the information you were provided helps alleviate your concern about the product. We apologize again for the delay in response and hope our customer support team can work with you to improve your experience as our customer.
6 years ago I ordered and planted 3 Heartnut trees from Miller's Nursery. It was listed that they would produce in 3-5 yrs None of these trees have ever produced nuts. Stark Brothers, who now own Miller's, refused to take any responsibility for these infertile trees and would not give me a credit or refund.
I have ordered many plants from many companies. After several years and probably a couple thousand dollars spent, I'd say that stark bros plants are the most consistently healthy when they arrive and the healthiest as they grow. They also arrive at the correct time to be planted (which has been a problem for me with a few other nurseries). They tend to be a bit higher priced than other nurseries. But in exchange you get better customer service, plants sent more reliably at the time they should be planted and healthier plants.
Posted on June 24, 2014, updated June 30, 2014
I placed my first order 06/06/14 and the trees were very nice, well wrapped and in excellent condition when they arrived. I was so impressed I ordered three more order#1175958 and when they arrived I was shocked. The trees were not well wrapped, the first set had wet paper wrapped around the roots that was still damp when I received them This shipment did not, no feeder roots like the first set, just a stump root, and very few buds,The trees seemed to be dead but planted them and hoped for the best.. I emailed customer care twice, but still no response. They talk up a good game saying they want you completely satisfied.....well I am not!On June 30th, 2014, iculov changed the rating from negative to positive and added the following:
They answered my emails after a few days and refunded the total amount. They wanted me completely happy with my purchase. I would order from them again.
Purchased the 2-in-one Cherry tree, 25 pack of strawberries and a bareroot raspberry.
LOVE LOVE this nursery. The cherry tree showed up in amazing shape. Had a bit of a back slide since I over-watered it by accident but its really taken off now. The raspberry is leafing out very nicely now and the strawberries look amazing. With the strawberries it only took a few days after planting for them to start growing new leaves.
My only sad bit is that I don't have enough space to plant their amazing plants.
I recently purchased two fruit trees (2 on 1 plum, 4 on 1 antique apple) from Stark Bros and so far I am fairly pleased with both specimens. Both trees have started leafing out and seem to be doing well. I do have a few minor complaints, mostly slow response to email (usually 3-4 days, however they did send a coupon as an apology), and the fact that the grafted varieties on my plants were not labeled. In addition, the company was not able to tell me definitively what type of rootstock my trees are on (i.e. my apple could be m7 or bud118). However, the price and quality of their products are great. Overall, I've had a pretty good experience with Stark Bros and I will probably be purchasing some berry plants from them in the future.
I ordered four trees from Stark Brothers which shipped Nov. 11, 2012. Three of the trees, an apple, a pear and a cherry put out a little growth the first year, but it was obvious that the other apple was not doing well. I called their customer hotline, and was told that sometimes it takes the apple trees more time to get established, so I left it alone, continued watering etc.. I didn't see any life from it over last summer or fall. This Spring it became obvious that the tree was completely dead. I called them back today, and was very rudely told that I could not possibly get a refund from something which shipped in 2012 despite what I had been told in the summer of 2013.Company representative comment on June 9, 2014: On Jun 9, 2014 1:20 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for leaving your feedback here regarding your apple tree. We apologize that you feel dissatisfied with the response from our customer support team regarding our limited warranty. Our Promise of Satisfaction states that you are eligible for a free one-time replacement -- or a refund of your full purchase price (if you don't want a replacement) -- as long as it is requested within a year of delivery.
If you would provide your customer number here, or reach out to our customer support manager, it will help us to better assess the situation and get a clearer view of the issue. We look forward to hearing from you.
Johnaw Princeton Junction, NJ (3 reviews) May 30, 2014
excellent plants and service. I have ordered, apples, peachs,.grapes,blueberries, and pawpaw. They seem to arrive on Sat. for some reason when I' m home to plant !
Every plant ordered has"taken off" when planted which is a testiment to how they were grown before I recieved them.
Having a mail order plant company can't be easy, they must always balance their time to produce saleable plants,size of plants to ship, and trying to pack oversized trees etc so they arrive in good condition Three stars on all fronts!
I have a very large acreage property with five separate fruit orchards with over 150 trees, a half acre blueberry patch, a half acre strawberry patch, and several acres for general vegetable gardening/extensive corn patches.
Therefore I spend thousands of dollars a year on edible landscaping from a dozen plus on-line nurseries. Overall, Stark Brothers is a good, reliable company with an ironclad one time plant replacement policy.
I've spent thousands of dollars with Stark Brothers alone this year because their plants have arrived in excellent condition still solidly dormant, and they ship faster than any other on-line plant purveyor I order from.
I've found that the key to being satisfied with a company is figuring out their strengths, quirks, and weaknesses. Then I stick to purchasing their best products.
If you want the largest plants from Stark Brothers, you need to order as early in the season as possible. As the shipping season reaches the end, the plants invariably get smaller regardless of the grade ordered. The supreme dwarf trees of every variety that I ordered during the winter/early spring were of gratifyingly large caliber. The supreme dwarf trees since the start of their end of season sales have been about the caliber of their normal dwarf trees from the beginning of their shipping season.
Currently all the trees I've purchased from the end of season sales have been slender whips compared to what I received two months ago. However, I'm perfectly fine with the smaller size since I paid $18 for a supreme Royalton cherry tree a couple weeks ago compared to the $30 I paid for a supreme Royalton cherry in March.
If you want the absolute biggest tree you can get, it is worth your while to order the supreme size as early as possible. Yes, supreme size really makes a tremendous difference.
The weaknesses that I have found with Stark Brothers are as follows:
1) Inferior blueberry plants compared to what you can purchase elsewhere for the same money. Their blueberry plants have been surprisingly small for the price. I've received several that were completely dried out and dead.
2) The honey berry plants even ordered toward end of season are expensive. I've received small plants of poor quality. Again I have received plants that were DOA.
3) The potted trees are small and pricey compared to what you get for bare root trees. The 2-in-1 cherry trees were 1/3 the size of a regular grade dwarf bare root cherry. The potted persimmons are even smaller than the potted cherry trees. Think restaurant drink straw in height and caliber. These small persimmon plants are frail and easily suffer watering insults.
4) Their customer service is currently overwhelmed/understaffed. I haven't gotten them to answer a customer service e-mail in weeks. If you want to reach a real live customer service representative right now, I hope your cellphone plan has unlimited minutes. I managed to grill steaks, eat my dinner, clean up the kitchen, and pay all my bills on-line while on hold in an obscenely long phone queue waiting for the next available representative who sounded very frazzled by the time she got to me.
As with all on-line nurseries, I've received orders with missing plants or plants that I didn't order. I probably get an unusually high number of errors on my orders because I tend to order 10-30 plants at a time. The current tally is two missing trees and four fruit tree varieties that I definitely didn't order.
Actually errors in plant orders are so common from every company that I've bought large and repeated orders from that I have an "oopsy section" in my orchard at the very back of the property for orphaned trees dropped into my care.
It's rather remarkable how many plants in fact have the wrong plant tags on them.
I've found customer service prompt and very responsive in between shipping seasons. I just batch my issues with orders for one involved phone call to customer service during their slow times.
Besides great quality bare root fruit trees from Stark Brothers, I've gotten large, top notch filbert trees as well. I only wished that I had ordered a couple more for my nut grove before they ran out this year.
The end of season sale that Stark Brothers has every May along with their no hassle one time plant replacement policy will insure that I'm a repeat customer every year.
I bought 13 trees from Stark recently. The tree's I ordered were mostly the supreme variety. All tree's that came were a bit "wimpy", but three trees were (below) were much smaller and thinner than the others.
1. Bartlett Pear Dwarf Supreme
2. KinderKrisp Apple semi dwarf Supreme
3. Golden Delicious dwarf Supreme.
The fourth kind, of which i bought two, had no branches and no buds. I dont think they will produce.
4. Hardened Nectarine Dwarf Supreme
I planted all of them immediately and most seem to be waking up from their nap and travels.
I wrote on the online forum about my issues, but didn't get a response. when I called about an inquiry about a sale, the people did assist me...so I have mixed reviews when it comes to the service. I'd hate to lose a growing year because i got bum plants.
the list of tree's i planted are below, in case anybody is interested....
1. Honeycrisp? Apple Dwarf Supreme
2. StarkspurÆ Red Rome Beauty Apple Dwarf Supreme
3. StarkÆ Golden Delicious Apple Dwarf Supreme
4. StarkÆ Tree Guards 40"
5. StarkingÆ Delicious? Pear Dwarf Supreme
6. Bartlett Pear Dwarf Supreme
7. KinderKrisp Apple Semi-Dwarf Supreme
8. Ozark Premier Plum Dwarf Supreme
9. Superior Plum Dwarf Supreme
10. Hardired Nectarine Dwarf Supreme
11. Blackgold® Sweet Cherry Semi-Dwarf Supreme *
12. Emperor Francis Sweet Cherry Semi-Dwarf Supreme
13. Starkrimson® Sweet Cherry Semi-Dwarf
Posted on April 21, 2014, updated May 24, 2014
I am not new to gardening, but I am new to buying plants online. I decided to take a chance on stark bros because of the good reviews on here, figuring that even the bad reviews mostly had good ending.
I will not order from here again.
We live in the wonderful era of computers and potential for automated systems. A company the size of stark bros has a responsibility to it's customers to have a record of what's going on with their order, and to provide as accurate as possible shipping times. Add me to the list of those who seem to be on the back burner and unimportant to Stark. I'm not an unreasonable person, I don't mind waiting for my plants. I would however, expect a response to an email inquiry and not have to telephone the company multiple times to try and get an answer. I also expect the customer representative I speak to to have information AT LEAST about how their system works and how long I can typically expect to wait for my order. I also expect said customer representative to not be rude to me when I ask questions trying to pry an answer from their unwilling self. How hard is it really to tell someone "Typically, we ship within x amount of days. My apologies for it not shipping when we said it would, we are doing out utmost to fix the problem and will have your plants to you as soon as possible."
Honestly, these could be the bestest most award winning plants ever and I STILL would never purchase from here again. I'd rather have less unique plants and support my local, friendly nursery than deal with "customer support," who care nothing for customer service. Stay away. On May 24th, 2014, Kbearda changed the rating from negative to positive and added the following:
After this review, within hours actually, StarkBros responded here, and sent me an email apologizing for the issues and sent a $25 gift certificate. On top of that my other plants shipped almost immediately.
Once everything arrived a few days later I must say I was rather unimpressed with the packaging. The elder berries and gooseberries were stuffed into a bag with a few damp newspaper clippings around the roots and were looking fairly dried out, the boysenberries looked sick, and the strawberries had nothing protecting their roots. I planted them all anyway since upon scrapping them I could see there was still green.
And oh my, the transformation. I am still in shock at how quickly all the berries took off! The elderberries especially are looking gorgeous! The boysenberries needed some love and serious tlc, but they're also looking fabulous now. I truly expected this to be a total bust and an expensive learning experience, and now I am very happy I ordered from here. I'm fairly convinced the issue I had over the phone was an anomaly, admittedly a very rude and upsetting one, but none-the-less an anomaly. And while I wasn't impressed with the packaging, I cannot in any way argue with the health and vigor of the plants I received!
After seeing how well the rest of my berries were doing, combined with the very kind help after my review here I decided to go ahead and try ordering some honey berries. After all, they were nearly free. This time, everything shipped right on time, no hiccups, and the plants arrived looking fabulous. Can't wait to see how well these babies grow up! (and to make some honey berry wine.)9Company representative comment on April 21, 2014: On Apr 21, 2014 4:57 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for your feedback and for sharing your experience here. We dedicate ourselves to providing quality product and service to all of our customers, and it is something we take seriously. It is our goal not only to meet, but to exceed your expectations, and we would like to sincerely apologize that this did not happen.
Because we are shipping living product, the shipping dates we provide are only estimates, and they may change. We apologize that we didn't communicate this to you in a more timely manner. Our customer support manager will be reaching out to you shortly so that we may work with you to restore your faith in our company.
We appreciate your feedback and want to thank you again for taking the time to leave your thoughts here. We look forward to better serving you in the future should you choose to shop with Stark Bro's again.
I ordered a Cherry Tree, A shade tree and 6 raspberries from them. The trees were packed well, although some of the papers surrounding the roots was off. I liked that they pruned my Cherry tree so I didnt have too. It was a good size, with buds swelling. The shade tree was in a container with a bamboo shoot holding it straight. The tree doesnt show really any life, but it might be just trying to come out for spring. The raspberries seem to also be alive. The roots on them were very long and thick. Customer service has always treated me very well anytime I called. I hope everything I planted survives, I am not sure what kind of guarantee they have?? If everything survives I will definitely order again from them. First time ordering here. I also ordered from Gurney's and their trees died on me and were not half as nice as these.
I don't often go through the trouble of leaving reviews, but as I order more plants through the mail and realize others rely on such reviews or bbb ratings or whatever, I should say the following: I have now ordered from Stark Bro's 4 separate times over the course of the past 3 growing seasons, and each time I am at least satisfied, and recently impressed. I've ordered fruit trees, several fruiting shrubs, and strawberries. My most recent order this past week was several small 2-year old blueberry plants, and they arrived larger and more vigorous than I had hoped. The trees I ordered last season (American persimmon and fig) arrived healthy and are still doing extremely well. I was surprised to see some negative experiences because I can say with a good deal of confidence that Stark has reliably delivered for me.
Ordered a winter banana apple tree and two elder berries. At first they pushed my order back saying my ground was not ready to plant yet I live in alabama and ground has been above seventy for a month. Then I called and they changed my shipping. Upon arrival I get my banana apple tree and elder berries and they all have ten to fifteen spots where the bark was cut to see if they were alive which is a joke if they had any horticulture skills this would not be needed. The roots were hanging out of the the bottom of the box and were dried out. The winter banana apple tree was one vertical whip with no branching when I called to ask how such a old company is still in business when they ship such subpar plants this is what she told me word for word( some trees don't develop branches in two years of growth would you like me to send a replacement) so I said yes then she said( that is not the quality of plants we send out but if I send another tree it might not have branches either) I don't know about y'all but it seems kind of weird that if that is not the usual quality that you would send out why would my replacement be just as bad as the first. So finally the gave me a refund on my apple tree and if these elder berries are damaged by the green house people cutting on them to make sure they are alive. So probably gonna be calling them back soon for another refund. So only thing positive about this company is there not afraid to give your money back on these subpar plants. So needless to say my days of doing business with such a joke of a company are done before it ever really got startedCompany representative comment on May 6, 2014: On May 6, 2014 10:30 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for informing us of the condition your shipment arrived in, and we regret any inconvenience this experience has caused you. We know that the packaging is important in shipping living product from us to you, and we take these issues seriously. If you managed to take any photos of your shipment like this, we would be grateful if you could send them to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can address how to avoid this happening in the future.
It is true that some varieties of fruit trees are shipped as unbranched "whips" and even replacement trees of that variety would likely be unbranched. However, we are disappointed to hear that your product arrived damaged. It is very likely that this damage to the product was related to your package arriving damaged.
We appreciate you taking the time to share your experience here so that we can address these issues. We want to apologize that we did not meet or exceed your expectations. Our customer support manager will be reaching out to you shortly to see what we can do to improve your experience with our company.
Resset567 Englewood, CO (3 reviews) April 29, 2014
I've ordered a total of 6 fruit trees from this company in three separate orders; all have established and grown well. I wish Stark would provide online information about the type of grafted root stock used for their semi dwarf and dwarf trees (allow gardeners to assess fit with their soil, regional root diseases, etc.) so I don't have to call, but other than that, I like everything about this company.
I've ordered fruit trees from Stark Bros in both of the last 2 years, and each time I've been very pleased. Both times the trees have arrived in good condition, with good root systems, and they have been packed carefully and well for transit.
I'm really surprised at the number of negative experiences! I ordered 11 fruit trees and 1 fruiting bush from them in February. They had originally planned to send them to me at the end of March. They did delay sending them to me, which I was grateful for. The weather in central NY has been miserable (very cold and wet (snow & rain) for spring). I did receive the trees last week. I was as pleased as could be as to the condition of the trees when they arrived.