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The scoop on 'Swallowtail Garden Seeds'

  Company Profile  
Swallowtail Garden Seeds

Green Star: Good Swallowtail Garden Seeds is a Watchdog 30 company. Green Star: Good

Mailing Address:
122 Calistoga Road #178
Santa Rosa, California 95409 (United States)

Phone: 707-538-3585
Fax: 800-723-1771

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Recent reviews:
Past month Past 6 Months Past 12 Months
Positive 1 6 17
Neutral 0 0 0
Negative 0 0 0
This company offers a variety of seeds.

  Company Comment, posted on January 31, 2013:  
Our 2013 online catalog features over 1,600 items, including over 400 new varieties, including annual and perennial flowers, vines, herbs, and vegetables. We are also featuring an Organic product line this season.

We offer both retail and wholesale product lines. The quality of the seed in both product lines is high and the prices competitive, so you are sure to find some extraordinary values.

Our 2013 season starts with our new shopping cart that provides online customers with a “My Account” feature that keeps track of your orders for you—no more post-it notes in the garden shed to track what and when you ordered this year!

We thank all of you that have supported us for years, and also those that will choose to give us a try for the first time in 2013. We are especially grateful to the people who cared enough to give their time, to offer honest appraisals of our company's performance.

We at Swallowtail Garden Seeds hope you have a TERRIFIC GROWING SEASON IN 2013. All the best from Sandy, Trina, Don, Mary, Levon, Junior and Ben.

  Feedback History and Summary  
194 positives
12 neutrals
20 negatives


Displaying the 50 most recent comments:

Positive Jgordo02
Blairstown, MO (Zone 6a)
(4 reviews)
March 26, 2015
I love Benary's Giant Zinnias but they are expensive. Swallowtail Garden Seed has them for a better price. I've had excellent germination for them and the others I ordered.
Positive Blackbelt_Lizzy
La Grange Park, IL
(25 reviews)
March 5, 2015
Ordered from Swallowtail in 2014 and again last month. Very large selection of seeds I had excellent germination rates last year with large healthy plants in my garden all summer. Wonderful customer service! Seeds arrived quickly after ordering. Looking forward to starting this years seeds. I will update as these seeds grow.
Positive BarbArnoldini
Tunkhannock, PA
(2 reviews)
March 3, 2015
Placed a fairly large order late in 2014 for 2015 seeds and have been happy with all but two items that germinated poorly. When I notified Swallowtail they quickly replied and new seeds are on the way. Who could ask for anything more? I especially appreciate the replacement of the expensive pelleted petunia seeds that germinated at 40%. I did not ask for replacement of these seeds but Swallowtail is sending replacements on their own because of the low germ. It was only Black Cherry tomatoes that I asked to be replaced. They went beyond what I asked for and have earned my continued loyalty. So happy for this outcome because they have a few items that I cannot find elsewhere, and they are as customer-friendly as any company I have ever dealt with, both on the phone and via email.
Positive LanfrancoLeo
Harrisburg, PA
(8 reviews)
February 9, 2015
Posted on November 13, 2013, updated February 9, 2015
I ordered 3 times last year from this company, in all the three cases I was very very happy. I had a bit of delay in one of my order...problem promptly solved once I called the company (it was during the busiest period...totally understandable).
I ordered Lisianthus, Morning glory (carnival), peony poppy, Stock , Pansy, Purple bell vine, and many many other items...all the germination rate was excellent (80-95 percent range in my case). The time of germination the same of the one indicated in the instruction. I just ordered some more items for 2014, I am a happy returning customer, and by the three separate experience of last year I have great expectation from this new batch of seeds!!
On February 9th, 2015, LanfrancoLeo added the following:

It is my thord gardening season with swallowtail Garden seeds, the germinability from this company is the BEST in my experience. I tried a lots of different plants, from herbs to difficult ornamental flower...NO ONE ever disappointed me 9of course by using the right germination setting).
Every year I try new variety since the very nice selection, and every year the company keep its promise of very high quality of seeds..
Definitively come back next growing season!!
Positive DonnaMack
Elgin, IL (Zone 5a)
(52 reviews)
January 11, 2015
Posted on February 17, 2014, updated January 11, 2015
I am shocked to find that I have never submitted any reviews, which would have noted my great satisfaction with this company over the years. I have placed half a dozen orders with this company, and the seed selection, germination rates and packaging are outstanding. I do refrigerate my seeds, but I think that it is superb when 8 year old seed has a 90% germination rate. I highly recommend them.
On January 11th, 2015, DonnaMack added the following:

My excellent germination rates continue both with old and new seed. Swallowtail has great selections - I recognized seed for a nepeta I have been ordering as a plant, expensively year after year. One of the great things about this company is that there are unusual and highly desirable seeds in the mix. And the prices for them are standard.
Positive cherrycea
(1 review)
October 21, 2014
I have a very good experience with Swallowtail in terms of their service.

I live in the Philippines and had my order sent at Virginia. It so happened someone was coming home from VA and gave the seeds to me.

The delivery was fast. I was expecting it to be around 3 to 5 working days. It arrived only 2 days after the order.

The seeds were neatly packed. I ordered 17 seeds comprising of Zinnias, Portulacas, Vinca and Marigold. So far, everything has been germinating well. The Marigold Alumia Vanilla Cream I ordered is now flowering. It did much better than the Crackerjack Marigold Seeds I bought locally. The Zinnias are also germinating well. But since it is the wet season, the Uproar Rose Zinnia's flower were not that spectacular. I will observe some more since the wet season will be over soon. But nevertheless, it always has a bud of flowers. As for the Portulacas, I will do more experimentation and see if the young plants will live more. I am germinating my vinca right now and I will wait for the results.

I like their customer service people especially Mary. She is very accommodating. I always ask for tips for germination and what plants are suitable in our climate (tropical, very humid). And she answers on-time. Lately, I have been communicating with Ben and he is very accommodating just like Mary.

Their website id very friendly. The products are presented well, the pictures are big enough and there are tips on how to germinate the seeds.

I will order again from them in the future.
Positive prairieAB
(1 review)
October 7, 2014
Fantastic selection, great price and fast service. Highly recommended!
Positive valal
Natick, MA
(4 reviews)
September 12, 2014
I ordered from Swallowtail Seeds for winter sowing this winter. I love their website which is easy to navigate, has great pix. Each page at the end of seed selectionfor that species has how to plant/grow which I think is a great reference for those who need this. They had a great selectionand it was hard for me to limit myself ;0)

The home page indicates "Order today, seeds will ship (date)" which ithought was great! True totheir word, seeds shipped next day and I had them in 2 days. Can't ask for faster/ more efficient than that!

Was very happy with my experience and will definitely order again!
Positive Gallivanting1
Edmonton, AB (Zone 3a)
(8 reviews)
August 5, 2014
I ordered a number of garden seeds and the germination rate was great! Looks like a bumper crop this year! The seeds arrived very quickly and they were easy to deal with.
Positive Gyraphe
Bang Kruai
(1 review)
July 16, 2014
I purchased a number of flower seeds a few months ago from Swallowtail – pelargoniums (aka geraniums) and dianthus/carnations, among others – but because of a protracted outrageous heat wave (hot even for here near Bangkok, Thailand) I stored the seeds in the crisper section of the fridge until the onset of monsoon… but even that was a month late in arriving. Planted the seeds in starter pots 3 days ago (July 5, 2014) & was checking on the web earlier today about germination times, only to discover that you’re supposed to abrade the geranium seed hulls before planting them. I was about to write Swallowtail to see if the seeds were pre-scuffed; but when I went out to mist the starter pots, I discovered nearly all the geranium seeds had already germinated and were poking their starter leaves above the soil; plus, the carnation seeds are also already germinating! As you probably know, pelargoniums usually take 2-3 weeks to sprout, never in a mere 3 days – and the carnations weren’t due to begin showing for at least another 4 days. Needless to say, I’m overjoyed and very excited. There’s only one, tiny negative – but it isn’t Swallowtail’s fault; Thailand will not allow packages from them into the country, even though they allow seeds from other firms (I think it’s because of the swallowtail butterfly on their logo which is a dead ringer for a native butterfly which feeds on citrus tree leaves). I had the seeds mailed to a friend of mine, which arrived at his home very quickly, and he forwarded them to me; I was worried that the time lag & possible adverse weather might negatively affect the seeds, but I guess not. I’ll keep you posted as to how the plants turn out. I also purchased begonia seeds from Swallowtail & planted the hanging-planter varieties yesterday, but (needless to say) they haven’t sprouted as yet. I’ll fill you in on their progress as well.
Positive Cellsum
New York City, NY
(2 reviews)
June 30, 2014
I ordered an array of sunflower seeds. The service was superb- they seemed to arrive practically overnight, and my order was correct and perfectly packaged. They didn't all germinate as I expected, but given that this was the first time I planted such an array and in these particular areas, I suspect the issue was with my soil preparation and planting some in a less than ideal spot. It's early in the season, but we're beginning to see some very promising results. I just wanted to note how happy I was with the incredibly prompt delivery and service.
Positive dicentra63
West Valley City, UT (Zone 6b)
(2 reviews)
June 7, 2014
This year I ordered no fewer than 12 varieties of Impatiens seeds (including I. x hawkeri) and I've had the most wonderful success!

The germination rate was around 97% and the plants are healthy and productive.

The selection of Impatiens seeds was also superb. It was hard to choose!
Positive barelilly
(2 reviews)
June 4, 2014
I'm rating this positive because I just put in my order today but I found the website itself to be easy to use and understand with the information needed included in the description along with helpful hints and suggestions. Although I'm an experianced gardener including as much information as possible is extremely helpful to those who aren't. Plus everywhere else I looked was out of monarda seeds, i was thrilled to find this place. Wish me luck with the seeds!
Positive lilaclily
Lombard, IL (Zone 5a)
(33 reviews)
May 22, 2014
I've ordered twice from Swallowtail, both large enough orders to get the free shipping special.

Shipping was fast and the seeds were packaged beautifully.

I had some poor germination on a few seed varieties from the first order, that they replaced as soon I emailed them to let them know. The germination on the replacements were much, much better and those seedlings are definitely thriving.

On the second order I placed, I had no trouble whatsoever with any of the seeds. They grew like gangbusters.

I would not hesitate to order from them again.
Positive bryana
Albany, NY
(67 reviews)
May 17, 2014
I ordered several varieties of seed - the ones I started inside had good germination, some I planted directly outside - don't know about them yet.
Positive rnbee
Warwick, RI
(2 reviews)
April 25, 2014
I ordered about $45 worth of seeds from Swallowtail this week. My shipment was in the mail the next business day and I received a shipping confirmation via email. The padded envelope arrived two days later via USPS.

I am very satisfied. I will be ordering from Swallowtail again.

My only suggestion is to lower the free shipping minimum (it was only for orders over $40 when I ordered) and/or release promo codes for free shipping. While I am happy with my shopping experience, it's rare that I need that many seeds and I really don't want to pay $4.95 for shipping if I am only purchasing a packet or two. In that case I would shop around for the retailer with the best shipping deal, and will go out of my way to order from somebody with free shipping.
Positive agastachegrl
Eden Prairie, MN
(5 reviews)
April 24, 2014
I love Swallowtail Gardens!! Been ordering from them for about 3 years..petunia seeds, vine seeds & others. They always arrive quickly, packaged well & germinate when they are supposed to! Props to you, Swallowtail!! Sending a big thanks from MN!!
Positive exfed
Germantown, TN
(4 reviews)
April 7, 2014
Having ordered from this company for 4 years, their website is very helpful and user-friendly. Fast service, good range of seed products and fair prices. Excellent germinations. Always courteous and prompt customer service. A real winner all around.
Positive Shorty_CA
Manhattan Beach, CA (Zone 10b)
(3 reviews)
March 5, 2014
Last spring I placed an order for several packets of seeds, both annuals and perennials. In spite of a tracking number that stated the order was delivered it never arrived. I contacted Swallowtail and they reshipped the order. Again I did not receive it. I had been having problems with mail delivery such that I had filed a formal complaint with my local postmaster. Swallowtail shipped the order a third time and I received it finally. The re-shipments were at no additional charge.

As a newbie I planted these seeds and none of the, germinated. The customer service rep was extremely helpful in pointing me to resources to determine what my problems might have been.

Three weeks ago, I planted the remainder of the seeds I received during 2013 and I'm extremely pleased that they have all germinated and are well on the way to becoming thriving plants as long as I don't screw something up.

Swallowtail went the extra mile to help me out and I will continue to order from them.
Positive cofieck6
Wichita, KS
(2 reviews)
February 24, 2014
I like growing double Impatients and the 10" Lizianthus as well as other seeds. I get almost 100% germination when I ordered from this company, not so with other online catalogs. I placed my 2014 order and forgot to order one packet of seeds. I called and talked with Mary, (exceptional customer service), and asked if I could add to my order and received a prompt answer 'Yes". Well, I got my order quickly but the other packet of seeds were not included. I let Mary know and she apologized and stated that they would mail the other item with no additional shipping. I got the other item just a few days later. This is the type of company that I will continue to order from and will tell my friends about them. Thank you so much Swallotail seeds for the great seeds and and thank you Mary for such great customer service.
Positive vinny762
Fresno, CA
(1 review)
February 15, 2014
This is is my third time ordering from this company. Amazing website, fast shipping, and such a huge selection of flowers. I spent hours just looking at the amazing website. I highly recommend this company to anybody looking to by seeds. Thank you folks at Swallowtail for making my gardening experience a delight.
Positive art33
Florissant, MO
(8 reviews)
January 27, 2014
I've ordered several times from Swallowtail Garden. They offer many varieties to choose from and I've never been disappointed with any seeds I've purchased from them; they've always been good viable seeds!
Positive flying_squirrel
Priest River, ID (Zone 5b)
(9 reviews)
January 8, 2014
Posted on February 15, 2012, updated January 8, 2014
This is the first time I ordered from this company. My order arrived very quickly and was complete. I planted some of the seeds and so far have had good germination. I will probably order again in the future.
On January 8th, 2014, flying_squirrel added the following:

This is the second year I have ordered from Swallowtail. I was pleased with the selection available, prices, communication and quickly shipped order. All of the seeds I have planted from my new order have germinated at a good % rate. I also had some leftover seeds from a previous years order that are germinating well. I am sure I will be ordering from them again in the future. I wish all seed orders were as positive all the way around as my experience with this company.
Positive CrankySci
New York City, NY (Zone 6b)
(1 review)
January 2, 2014
Approximately 2 years ago I placed an online order for a variety of climbing flowering vines. Due to the fact that I was then living in an apartment with a tiny balcony, I could only start a few of the seeds at a time. The delivery of the seeds was timely, the packaging insulated the seeds from the harsh cold and I received exactly what I ordered, down to the number of seeds.

Those seeds were fabulous! I experienced high germination success rates with the Thunbergia alata "Spanish Eyes". Gorgeous vines resulted, some sprouting well before the average germination date. Well, those Thunbergias were the right varietal, rigorous and gorgeous. I gave some to my parents, who trained them up a wall in their sunny patch.

This year, I (finally) live in an apartment with a large terrace, so I'm going all out. I've ordered Canary Vine, Cardinal Climber and Empress of India nasturtium seeds. The plan is to transform one of the terrace walls into a riot of reds and yellow. Currently, I am carefully picking over their exquisite heirloom tomato selection (with varietals I'd never heard of before), cucumber and Viola varieties. The icing on the cake here is that the seeds are very affordable. I did some comparison shopping and have found that the same seeds are sometimes twice as much on other sites. This means no Mad Gardening guilt.
Positive rrho
Batavia, NY
(4 reviews)
December 13, 2013
fast shipping. email containing tracking number. wonderful germination rate. have been ordering from this company for many years.
Positive icebird28
Coppell, TX (Zone 8a)
(11 reviews)
November 17, 2013
I loved Swallowtail's selection and decided to try them out for the first time. I was impressed with what they sent, however, I had ordered a jumbo pack of snapdragon seeds but it seemed like only 50 seeds or so. I emailed them and received a polite response and the lady said they would be sent right away. I emailed back to see if they could double-check that they were indeed sending the jumbo pack and the response I got back was the same lady packed it herself. Considering I didn't have to send back the first pack and that the lady packed the replacement herself, this company gets a positive rating from me. Now, its up to me to help the seeds along. I will definitely order my annuals from them again next year.
Positive judyinmound
Mound, MN
(14 reviews)
August 13, 2013
Posted on March 31, 2013, updated August 13, 2013
I ordered a lot of floral seeds and they had such a high germination rate that I over-sowed some pots. I appreciated the instructions on the packets so that I did not have to search if something needed light, no soil covering seeds and so on. Very happy with the quality, shipping time, value, and presence on FB to answer questions. =)
On August 13th, 2013, judyinmound added the following:

All 3 of the Zinnia seeds did not come as described. I ordered Oklahoma series, Scabiosa, and Bernary's. They were around 12" tall, some as big as my thumb, and some looked like dogs (they were crossed and not selectively chosen). The scabiosa looks like any other zinnia but small.

The dozen or so double click cosmos I planted - some turned out to be some seashell type cross and the rest looked like the double clicks they were supposed to be.

I did let them know this and sent pictures. Mary was very nice about offering a refund or the same packets sent out. She said they received no other complaints about the Zinnia's but I did see some customers stating it on their fb page. I asked if it was possible for different seeds (as I did not want to waste my time growing these again if it's the same seed source), or credit. She declined and refunded it to my card, which is fine.

The other floral seeds were a great success. I loved the double wave petunias, portulaca, asters and so on. I am keeping my rating positive as the customer service was good and was handled satisfactory. Thanks.
Positive nomibird
Gassville, AR
(5 reviews)
May 27, 2013
We had a great experience with swallowtail. They emailed the receipt of our order, and when they mailed the seeds. We followed the directions and the germination rate has been excellent and fast. We will be using them again.
Positive bashfulblonde
Santa Anna, TX
(2 reviews)
April 1, 2013
ON March 25,2013 I wrote a email to this company about my seeds that I had ordered Last spring and had not had any luck with them and was emailing back & forth with a very sweet & Kind Lady Named Mary , she did not find my invoice & I no longer had it nor my MO receipt , since I live on SS , I was very disappointed that I had not had any luck with the seeds after doing every thing that it said to do with them , I have been planting seeds for a very long time and have never had this happen to me , well as she told me neither had they with there seeds , as they had to have been exposed to extreme heat or cold during shipping , well our last email was on March 26, 2013 and today, April 1,2013, I received 1 new package of every seed that I had ordered from this company last spring , so now I will be able to start over again with fresh seed and I WILL order from them again , I do believe they went out & beyond the call of there guarantee so Thank you Mary you really Made My day . Roxanna .
Positive BrisbaneAnne
Brisbane, CA (Zone 10b)
(27 reviews)
March 31, 2013
I ordered a bunch of flower seeds from them last fall. They all germinated this spring. I am very happy with the germination rate. Super fast shipping too. Love their large selection of flower seeds. Will definitely order from them again. Recommend it.
Neutral andreaclara
Brooklyn, NY
(1 review)
March 20, 2013
I've ordered from Swallowtail three times and had no trouble with shipping. I garden in a full-sun 2000 square foot lot in Brooklyn with crappy alkaline industrial soil and scant irrigation. I've had tremendous success with their seed planted in these conditions and didn't always follow the detailed and useful instructions to a T. When the lot was severely flooded with saltwater during storm Sandy much of the topsoil was displaced so there will be serious depletion of both self and fall sown seed this season. This garden is large, watered by rain water cistern, and all the plants are donated otherwise it would be too costly to maintain. With the storm the losses may be significant and also a learning. Because of the storm related costs, this year there is no budget even for seeds. As I've ordered from Swallowtail in the past and was so looking forward to seeing those flowers come up again this year, I reached out to them to see if they'd be willing to donate some wildflower seeds. Granted I was asking a favor but the response I got from Ben at Swallowtail was sufficient to keep me from ordering from this company again. I can fully appreciate that a small company cannot afford to donate their product. It was simply that the officiousness of his tone took the joy out of my association to this company. I felt I was speaking to a bank representative who was justifying a policy rather than a human being who sold seeds for growing things. A loss for me as I had had such success with their seed and now I will research other companies and hope that they communicate with more courtesy - it matters.
Company representative comment on March 23, 2013:
On Mar 22, 2013 11:37 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

We can certainly appreciate this customer's desire to make something beautiful after the devastation of Sandy. At the end of the season, what little seed we have left over is donated to our local school gardening programs. We are sorry this customer was offended by her conversation with Ben. He can be formal at times but we have received nothing but positive feedback about his dealings with customers.

Rest assured that here at Swallowtail Garden Seeds customer service is still number one. We proudly provide excellent service to our customers AND support our community. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about how we do both.

Positive mrsilverado
East St. Paul
(1 review)
March 1, 2013
Just received my seed order on Feb.28th. I ordered it on the 9th and it was shipped on the 11th. Shipping only took 2 weeks from California to Winnipeg, Canada. Everything that was ordered was there. Looking forward to doing my seeding this weekend. Will post how everything turns out. Great service.
Positive floradora
Astoria, NY (Zone 7b)
(7 reviews)
January 18, 2013
I love this company. I've been ordering from them for at least 5 years-maybe more. They offer such a large variety of plant seeds that I too order way too much like the previous reviewer. They are my go-to source for allysums, lobelias (please bring back "paper moon"), violas and everything in between. The germination rates are very good- I had great success even with perennials such as: shasta daisy, crimson star columbine, origami blue columbine, platycodons fuji blue and white and even delphiniums. I didn't even do the pre-chilling of seeds procedure and they still germinated. Perhaps ordering in winter and their trip cross country in frigid temps was the pre-chill treatment? Once transplanted into the yard they bloomed the whole summer-especially "Bluebird". This year I ordered too many geranium seeds, violas (as usual), pansies, alyssums ( a large flowered type I never even knew existed) and alpine strawberry seeds among others. I haven't started the geranium seeds, so can't review the results, but the violas I've started have all sprouted, including the alpine strawberries which I didn't do anything special with. I also appreciate the careful packaging of seeds (love those little zip lock bags) and occasional free shipping offers on their web site.
Positive carolmo
Olathe, KS (Zone 5a)
(11 reviews)
December 26, 2012
I ordered annuals, perennials, vegetables. Selection was great and prices were reasonable. The order came very fast and even came with an email alert. They have the very best packaging of seeds I have ever seen. They were my primary seed company this year - and will be next year too.
Positive jvw
Clinton Township, MI (Zone 6a)
(6 reviews)
December 12, 2012
Both my mother and I have been ordering from Swallowtail for the past three years. We have never had a problem. This past month both my mother and I have ordered from them twice! On my mother's second order she forgot 4 items. She left a voicemail and emailed them. They were quick to respond that indeed they could add the items on to the order. All of our orders arrived in a timely manner and perfectly. At this time we cannot respond on germination rates but we don't expect any problems as we have not had them before.

I wanted to order some morning glory seeds but saw that they are now prohibited in Michigan. I called the company to find out why and even though the staff member did not know on the spot she took the time to look it up while I was on the phone with her.

We love their selection and must say we find ourselves ordering too much! When I read the negative reviews I cannot believe it could possibly be the same company we deal with!
Positive wildflowerhoney
Naples, FL
(6 reviews)
October 26, 2012
Ordered twice from Swallowtail Seeds. Perfect transaction both times. Super speedy and free shipping; excellent germination; vast and exciting selection of seeds; expertly packaged. The Benary Giant Wine Zinnias are especially stunning. Will buy from again.
Positive arrowleaf
Clearbrook Park, NJ
(2 reviews)
October 12, 2012
This is the first year I discovered Swallowtail, LOVE the selection, and the prices are so reasonable! The packaging is nicer than most seed companies: plastic or glassine envelope inside paper package, sometimes all three, sometimes a glass tube with a stopper for certain seed-types. It seems like so much care is taken. I ordered most of my vegetable and flower seeds from them last winter:

FLOWERS: 4 varieties of Columbine, Apricot Sweet Pea (color is more like neon coral, but beautiful and they bloomed all summer and are still blooming-in Oct.!), Cosmos-Double-click Snow Puff white, Apricot Sprite Agastache, Polka-dot Pippa Foxglove, Morning Glory-Flying Saucers, Nicotiana Antique Lime, New Dimension Blue Salvia, Buttercream Sunflowers, Prado Red Sunflowers, Tuscany Peach Verbena, Profusion Apricot Zinnia, Profusion White Zinnia, Giant Benary Zinnia (Salmon Rose), Creamy Yellow Giant Flowered Zinnia, Gallery White Lupine, Princess Victoria Louise Poppy, Bronze Fennel
VEGETABLES: D'avignon Radish, Astro Arugula, Mild n' Spicy Greens mixture, Sugar Sprint Snap Peas, New Red Fire Lettuce, Simpson Elite Lettuce, Flashy Trout Back Romaine, Mottistone Summer Crisp Lettuce, Contender Hybrid Zuccinni, and Scarlet Emperor Runner Bean.

There was excellent germination, with everything except the Poppies, and I'm sure I just didn't get them into the ground early enough; the weather was too warm, too quickly, and then my husband accidentally dumped coffee grounds on top of them. So I will try them again next time.

I read the message from the professor with the poor Columbine germination experience and thought I should share my good Columbine germination experience as a contrast. I ordered four types of Columbine seeds from Swallowtail: Alpine Columbine, Black Barlow, Blue Barlow and White Origami. I had read (on the gardener web forum) that they germinate better if put in the freezer in damp soil for a week, covered, before exposing them to light. So I experimented, and sewed some seeds in soil-less cells, kept at about 65-70 degrees, put others in the freezer for a week, before planting them, and I also put some outside in plastic, domed containers, starting March 11th, (zone 6b, freezing weather) kept out till spring. Some germinated in 24 days, and some took over 30 days to germinate, but some from every group sprouted. The Alpine Columbine freezer group was the first to show, but it seemed like the others caught up, so none of the methods seemed superior. I transplanted to larger containers, and eventually had about twenty or so plants I set out into the garden. None of them bloomed the first year, which I think is normal (is it?), but all the plants grew a lot, and seem very healthy, so I think I will have a lot of columbine flowers next spring. Yes, they did take a lot longer than other seeds to germinate, but I think thats the type of seed they are. And I started out with 145 seeds and ended up with about 20-25 plants, but that's about how many I had room for, and I could have been more careful with them, when they were seedlings.

So I think the company is wonderful and I will definitely order from them again. They are now my favorite seed company.
Positive diknownana
Glen Carbon, IL
(2 reviews)
August 30, 2012
I ordered a variety of seeds from this company and I am very pleased at the results. The germination rate was great (except for the seeds that something dug up and made a lunch out of). It's a shame the season was so hot and dry that the plants were suffering even with being watered, but they have survived and still producing. The prices and amount of seeds are really good. I am already looking and making my list for next years flowers & vegetables. Needless to say, I will be ordering again from Swallowtail.
Positive hairyjo
Danville, CA
(19 reviews)
July 25, 2012
Very happy with the seeds I have ordered from this company. I will certainly order again this fall. I like the many different viola seeds they carry and they work well in my garden and germinated reliably.
Negative chlorophyll646
Tanglewilde-Thompson Place, WA
(1 review)
July 1, 2012
Posted on May 17, 2012, updated July 1, 2012
I ordered many types of seeds from Swallowtail Seeds in both 2010 and 2011. My germination rates were inconsistent both years. The first year, I ordered pansy seeds, which grew fine. However, I also ordered many varieties of columbine and had a germination rate of zero for all varieties. I am a botany professor and have a great deal of experience growing plants from seed. I contacted the company in August 2010, and they issued me a refund for the seeds that did not germinate. They told me that the seeds had been professionally tested and shown 90% germination. They also said that they had sold hundreds of packets of the same varieties and had received no other complaints.

In 2011, I decided to try again because I was unable to find these columbine seeds from any other source. Because I had problems in 2010, I kept careful track of the germination rates. 30 days after planting, I sent Swallowtail Seeds the following email:
Subject: germination concerns
To: "Swallowtail Garden Seeds"
Date: Monday, March 7, 2011, 11:11 AM

I placed an order with you a couple months ago. I planted the seeds 30 days ago. Here are the germination rates I have found:

Red Hobbit columbine 26/28
Arizona Red Shades Gaillardia 30/32
Chianti Mix Pansy 17/28
Spring Magic Navy and White Columbie 11/18
Chandelier Lupine 16/16

Origami White Columbine 1/16
Origami Red and White Columbine 1/18
Origami Yellow Columbine 0/16
Illumination Apricot Shades Begonia 0/23
Go Go Mix Begonia 0/40

Obviously, I am very happy with the germination rates of the first set of flowers. However, I am greatly disappointed that I have not gotten the others to grow. I was unable to grow them last year either. I do not want to keep ordering seeds and not getting results. Might you have some suggestions for me?

All seeds were planted in Promix 1 in 4 x 9 cells in flats. Flats were covered with humidity domes until germination. Pots were kept under florescent lights (except for the pansy, which required darkness to germinate) 28W T5 bulbs, 8 per ballast. If bottom heat was recommended (begonia), bottom heat was given. If bottom heat was not recommend3ed (columbine), no bottom heat was used. Soil was kept moist, but not wet. I am a botany professor and have a fair amount of experience growing plants from seeds. We are growing these seeds as a project for my botany course this semester and the students and I are all frustrated. Please help!
I received no response from the company, and so resent my email to them on March 10, 2011.

Again, I received no response, so I sent the following email to them on March 21, 2011:
Subject: Re: germination concerns
To: "Swallowtail Garden Seeds"
Date: Monday, March 21, 2011, 11:40 AM

Dear Swallowtail Gardens, I originally sent this email to you on March 10th, but have not yet received a response. No additional seeds have germinated since I counted them on March 10. I am hoping you can help me. Thank you.
Again, I received no response to my third email.

Now that it is spring again, I would really, really like to try again. However, it is obviously very frustrating to try to grow the same varieties year after year from the same company. I was glad they refunded my money for the ungerminated seeds the first year. However, I didn't want the money, I wanted the plants, which is why I tried a second time. I was disappointed that they did not reply to my three emails the second year (nor obviously, did they refund my money). Does anyone know of another source of seeds for multiple columbine varieties?
On July 1st, 2012, chlorophyll646 added the following:

I could possibly understand missing ONE of my emails, but three? THREE emails over two weeks?! That seems quite disingenuous to me. I have the records of my emails being sent to them, to the same address that they confirmed my order from. It is my understanding that emails are reliable and are even admissible in court. Why would they say on their website that you can contact them by email ["
E-Mail questions and comments are always welcome, but please be aware it may take us up to a week to respond, especially during the peak season. If you have time-sensitive inquiries or comments, please give us a call."] if they do not monitor or take any efforts to receive and respond to them. I waited several weeks to receive their response. In fact, I am still waiting. Thankfully, I have since found another source for columbine seeds and have had more than 90% germination. I will never order from Swallowtail again.
Company representative comment on July 1, 2012:
On Jun 3, 2012 3:08 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

Our email records are not in line with what our customer is reporting. Had we received these emails we would have responded.

We make it as clear as we are able on our web site that using our toll free number (877-489-7333) is the method to use anytime a message to us is time sensitive. We wonder why it might not have occurred to our customer that his/her emails were not getting to us, rather than assuming he/she was being ignored.

Because as much as many of us have grown to accept that email is completely reliable - we know from our own experience contacting customers - that is not. Servers are down, mail boxes are full, typos in addresses can be made.

Our columbine seeds are professionally germination tested; we receive many compliments and very few complaints regarding their performance. Columbine seed must not be covered when planted - and will not germinate when temperatures are too high. Had our customer called us using our toll free number, I feel confident our staff horticulturist would have helped them develop a strategy for success.

If anyone ever has trouble getting an email response from us - please do not assume you are being ignored. It is far more likely your emails are not be getting to us. Our toll free number (877-489-7333) is a no charge, no hassle way to be sure your concerns are addressed quickly and accurately. You will also receive advice that will help you help insure your future success.

Had we had been aware of our customers experience we would have fixed it immediately. When our customer calls us at (877-489-7333) and asks for Lynn or Sandy - we will fully refund the order - which is our standard procedure - it is who we are. To attend to our customer's happiness, to promote their success is our highest calling. It is why we get up in the morning, it is our reason for being Swallowtail Garden Seeds.

On Jul 1, 2012 9:50 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds added:

We have not heard from this customer except through Dave’s Garden. We previously invited the customer to contact us using our toll free number in order to receive a quick, no hassle refund. The customer has not done this.

As of now, we don’t know who this customer is and to rectify the situation without knowing which order is involved is not possible. We, too, feel frustrated because we want to help.

We invite the customer to call us at 877-489-7333 to receive a refund.

Alternatively, if this customer would feel more comfortable, they can provide us the invoice number through this Dave’s Garden post and we will provide a full refund.

If the customer does not have the invoice number, their last name would be needed to make sure the refund was properly applied. They can relay this information to us by phone or through this post, whichever they prefer.

If this customer will give us the opportunity we will fix this situation.

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