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The scoop on 'Flowers by the Sea'

  Company Profile  
Flowers by the Sea

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 89
Elk, California 95432 (United States)

Phone: 707 877-1722
Fax: 707 877-1721

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Recent reviews:
Past month Past 6 Months Past 12 Months
Positive 0 4 5
Neutral 0 1 1
Negative 1 1 1
This company offers a variety of bulbs and plants.

  Company Comment, posted on May 6, 2009:  
Our Plants Grow

Everything we offer for sale has been tested extensively in our research gardens. These are varieties that you can count on, from a source you can trust. We are proud of the quality of what we sell, and guarentee your satisfaction.

  Feedback History and Summary  
16 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative


Negative Plantcrazylady
Santa Cruz, CA
(5 reviews)
November 15, 2015
Posted on October 26, 2015, updated November 15, 2015
After purchasing about 200 plants from this company, I am no longer a customer. With their poor shipping practices, questionable horticulture, and poor treatment of customers, I see no reason to continue ordering from FBTS. I advise gardeners to look elsewhere.

Shipping: Plants are wrapped in several layers of newsprint-type paper, then stacked in too-large shipping boxes filled with polystyrene peanuts. If you have a large order, plants will be stacked on top of each other in several layers. In all of my orders the bottom plants arrive squashed and bruised, with a lot of breakage. Some were completely broken off at the base. I even received a very heavy one-gallon plant in the same shipping carton as several tender, brittle plants in three-inch pots. The first plant I received that arrived with a main-stem split was replaced. After that, all problems with shipping were blamed on my local delivery person, or on me.

Ordering: They have started carrying many plants only as \"special order\" options, to be shipped in six weeks. If you want to include in-stock items with your order, you must place two separate orders (double shipping fees) or face a \"split-order\" charge (a surprise to me when I ordered, as this was not made clear at the time). Either way, your costs will double. Ridiculous, if you want to purchase more than a few plants at a time. And what do you get with six weeks of growth? A poorly rooted cutting. Don\'t bother.

Customer service: My last order was for 38 plants, five of which were special order. I requested that the bulk of the order be sent immediately (why wait six weeks for 33 in-stock plants?). They held back a normally in-stock plant for delivery with the SO plants, and then tried to claim it had been shipped already. Then when the SO plants where shipped, I was short two plants, with no credit issued and no explanation given. When I inquired, the owner would not credit me for the missing items (or for the ridiculously non-viable plant I had received in the previous order) claiming that those three credits ($30) would not even cover the shipping for the SO plants. So he decided to \"call it a wash.\" I call that fraud. Civility toward the customer declined precipitously with each transaction I placed with this company. The first order or two came with bonus plants. The rest with hostility.

Horticulture: Yes, the plants tend to be big for their pots, but this is often not a good thing. Many, perhaps most, of the salvias I received from FBTS were horribly pot bound. One was so bad that even with soaking in a bucket I could not get moisture to the center of the root ball. The owner, when I contacted him, stated that \"we don\'t worry too much about salvias being pot bound.\" Really? I assume that overgrown stock is why they have gone to the \"special order\" plan.

I made the mistake of placing a very large order when FBTS had a clearing-out sale. They sold all plants as-is. Several of the plants were so poor they should never have left the nursery, and some arrived badly broken (and that, too, was considered \"as-is\"). The non-viable plant I mentioned above arrived so flaccid and weak that it had been tied, in several places, to a stick. They actually shipped out an already dying plant. Enough said.

Do not recommend!!!
On November 15th, 2015, Plantcrazylady added the following:

Just read the response from FBTS. It's interesting how often the comeback from a company caught out for bad behavior is that any failure is the fault of the customer. As to the floated question about why I bought so many plants from FBTS, all those items where purchased over (I believe) three orders. The first order was small, to try the place out, and was initiated for one specific plant I could not find locally at the time. The next order was for their (supposedly once-in-lifetime) sale. The last was the order when I was treated with such disregard.

I just dug up, today, two more dead FBTS plants (origanum Kent Beauty) purchased in that FBTS sale. Both plants were shipped to me seriously pot bound. The dead root balls had not sent out any roots over the last few months, and the plants died from self strangulation.
Company representative comment on October 26, 2015:
On Oct 27, 2015 12:29 PM, Flowers by the Sea responded with:

While the staff of Flowers by the Sea regrets it when dissatisfaction arises, we need to stress that no matter how hard an online nursery works or how good its plants are, there will always be an occasional dissatisfied customer.

It is a rare customer who complains about our packaging, propagation, policies or shipping, especially all at once. In fact, during our huge summer sale, only one customer had a significant complaint and that is the customer commenting here.

Plantcrazylady, we are sorry for any stress it has caused you by doing business with our company. We are continuing to work with you via emails and phone calls to resolve your concerns. As you indicate, you have ordered from us a number of times and in quantity. We wonder why you shopped with us if you were so displeased with our service and plants.

Anyone who wants to understand our shipping policies regarding combined orders of in-stock and special order plants, can find the information here: To read testimonials from customers, please visit We also answer a thorough list of frequently asked questions at

Gardeners who would like more information about FBTS, please email us at We're always glad to share information and be helpful.

Positive kathijr
Madison, WI
(1 review)
October 27, 2015
We have placed several large orders with Flowers By The Sea every season for at least the past five years. We garden for hummingbirds in the Upper Midwest and absolutely depend on their outstanding selection of salvias to create a hummingbird garden. Most of these plants are unavailable for sale locally or from other mail order nurseries. Since we have a large community hummingbird garden tour every September, maintain a website with photographs, and present programs about hummingbird gardening throughout our area, having these plants is absolutely essential to our work. We have developed a wonderful relationship with the staff of Flowers By the Sea and they send wonderful, healthy plants each season and give great advice. We certainly deal with challenging growing conditions and a short growing season and their plants arrive ready to grow and bloom quickly in our garden. We have always been very pleased with plant quality, shipping, packing and every other aspect of their operation. We are so impressed with the staff as people, their exciting and sometimes rare plant selection, and their wonderful website, which offers so much more than most online gardening company websites. They send us free plants to try too, and one of those became a hummingbird favorite and we plan to purchase it next season again. We have never once had a bad experience or a plant death in over five years of ordering from Flowers By The Sea. The plants grow beautifully either in a container or in the ground. While shipping costs can sometimes be a little steep if you live in the East or Midwest, getting these beautiful and difficult to find plants (sometimes they are even blooming as we unpack them!) is definitely worth it. I think I can speak for myself and many people on The Hummingbird Forum----our world of hummingbird gardening has been transformed with this quality plant nursery, Flowers By The Sea.
Positive Farmerdave2
Morgan Hill, CA
(1 review)
October 27, 2015
I have been ordering plants from Flowers By The Sea for four years and have 250 different varieties. I have never received a plant that was not healthy. Plants have not been damaged as they were carefully wrapped in newspaper and packed in Styrofoam, which can be recycled at a UPS store. Some are root bound but very quickly grow to a nice plant when repotted or put in the ground.

The price of the plants is no greater than any other supplier for the quality you get. Where else can you find the vast variety of plants that they supply. Questions you may have are quickly answered in a way that is easily understood.

I highly recommend Flowers By The Sea.
Neutral wingsoffreedom
San Jose, CA (Zone 9b)
(1 review)
October 26, 2015
- Healthy plants
- Carefully packed
- Plants bloomed within 1-3 weeks of arrival
- Great selection of Salvias
- Wish / watch list is great

Not so positive:
- Prices rather high for size of plant
- Shipping is average-high, wish it were better
- Your plant reviews do not show up immediately on website, nor confirmed ever - you wonder if you wasted your time...
- Proactive communication could be improved (see below)

I had to reach out to them after receiving my shipment short 1 plant. Granted I'm glad they did not ship out that diseased plant, they did not reach out to me first beforehand letting me know and providing options. Whatever the reason (small business, forgot, etc) the fact that customers have to reach out to them asking what happened and why the shipment wasn't complete is not a good first experience.
I waited another 1.5 weeks to receive a replacement plant also in good condition. However, again during that 1 week of back and forth, while they would respond to most emails in a few hours, they again required me to follow up on status despite them stating they would update on a specific day.
Positive utahxericman
Provo, UT
(2 reviews)
August 6, 2015
I ordered 12 plants from FBTS. They were well packaged and recieved minimal damage from shipping, the plants looked vigerous and should grow well. The roots were well established in their 4 inch pots. Ordered some hard to find plants form them. I am pleased with my order, and thanks for the free Lobelia, it will go nice with the other 3 that I ordered from you. I will most likely order from you again, Waiting on the Kniphofia's to get back in stock. Love their website full of information on Salvias and other gardening advice!
Positive Blackbelt_Lizzy
La Grange Park, IL
(29 reviews)
June 6, 2015
I ordered plants based on recent reviews. Wonderful collection of salvias and companion plants. I received my order within a week from ordering. I was thrilled by the large size and superb quality of the plants!! Will definitely order again in the near future.
Positive Lovehum
(Zone 6b)
(11 reviews)
May 26, 2015
TOP NOTCH. Large, healthy plants. Excellent packaging.
Positive garden6newbie
San Francisco, CA
(1 review)
July 31, 2014
Great plants and excellent customer service.
Neutral scbuttercup
(Judy) Simpsonville, SC (Zone 8a)
(1 review)
July 31, 2014
Beautiful selection of plants and everything said here is true. But really the prices are out of reach for most people because shipping East of the Rockies is crazy expensive. $30 for two small plants.
Positive CindyZ4_5
Turner, ME
(7 reviews)
May 3, 2014
This was my second order from FBTS and I couldn't be happier. The plants are large and healthy and the packaging was excellent. Prices were reasonable, communication was top notch and shipping was prompt. Couldn't ask for more!
Positive plantloverkat
Houston, TX (Zone 9a)
(2 reviews)
April 17, 2014
I am very pleased with the plants I received from Flowers By the Sea several weeks ago. Most of the plants were much larger than I expected them to be, and all arrived looking quite healthy. I found their website to be helpful in selecting plants that are best suited to my climate. I will definitely order from them again.
Positive bryana
Albany, NY
(70 reviews)
May 9, 2013
I ordered 9 plants - mostly salvia that attract hummingbirds - they were all very large healthy plants despite a cross country trip from California to New York.
The plants had great root systems and were package with care.
One of the best mail order plant company I have experienced.
Positive Marilynbeth
Hebron, KY
(33 reviews)
May 3, 2013
Posted on June 19, 2011, updated May 3, 2013
Just found out about them this year and so glad I did!

Love, love, love their selections of Salvias and that's what I ordered! My order consisted of approx. 6 Salvias and I received a bonus gift of another Salvia! Very happy with my order and the speed of delivery!

First time ordering, but won't be my last!

On May 3rd, 2013, Marilynbeth added the following:

Today, I received a Huge box (my third order) of 21 Salvias! All were packed very well! All were in great condition!

This is the place to get your Salvias!
Positive vossner
Richmond, TX (Zone 9a)
(111 reviews)
February 24, 2013
I am extremely impressed with this nursery. In recent years I have stayed away from CA vendors as I have learned the $$$hard way that not all zone 9s are the same and many of the CA purchases have succumbed to the unforgiving TX heat.

Enter FBTS. Their plant descriptions are so detailed, that it helps any gardener, beginner to advanced, to make more informed selections. I especially like their website. Their plants are organized by several categories--color, use, cultural needs, etc. I wish ALL nurseries had their catalog in this format. Prices are reasonable, including shipping.

I got salvias that I could not readily find locally. Ck them out.
Positive bibbykitty
San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b)
(37 reviews)
June 27, 2011
Posted on June 27, 2011, updated June 27, 2011
Posted on June 27, 2011, updated June 27, 2011
Posted on June 1, 2011, updated June 27, 2011
I received my plants late yesterday evening, even after being in a box for seven days they look good. My fault it took so long, I opted for fed ex ground... Won't do that again!
The plants are all very large, the only small one was Lanceolata, which I believe is a smaller sage. I am pleased with these plants, and I have already placed a second order.

I would highly recommend Flowers By The Sea. They have a wonderful selection. I will definately look here first when wanting to add more salvias.

On June 27th, 2011, bibbykitty added the following:

I love Flowers By The Sea! If you are looking for salvias look here first.

I have received 14 plants from here. They have all been outstanding and are growing wonderfully.

I highly recommend their plants.

On June 27th, 2011, bibbykitty added the following:

I love Flowers By The Sea! If you are looking for salvias look here first.

I have received 14 plants from here. They have all been outstanding and are growing wonderfully.

I highly recommend their plants.

On June 27th, 2011, bibbykitty added the following:

I love Flowers By The Sea! If you are looking for salvias look here first.

I have received 14 plants from here. They have all been outstanding and are growing wonderfully.

I highly recommend their plants.

Positive syclone5
Salt Lake City, UT
(5 reviews)
May 28, 2011
My plants arrived in perfect condition. Healthy, well branched, and happy, as I am with this fine company.
Positive hummer10
Shawnee Mission, KS
(3 reviews)
April 24, 2011
Good healthy plants with strong roots. Good source for plants in the salvia family.
Positive Steveklein
Ocala, FL
(2 reviews)
May 13, 2010
Like other Dave's recommended suppliers, Flowers by the Sea grows quality, well-established plants; definitely worth the money in my opinion. A couple of my plants were damaged because of a late-season shipment, due to heat exposure in the box; UPS. The supplier shipped replacement plants via Express Saver (Federal Express) at no charge. For those of us living in the south (especially late season) I would recommend arranging to pay a little higher shipping rate in order to assure quick delivery via Priority Mail, Express Saver or some other dependable means.
Positive NoNora
Roslindale, MA
(7 reviews)
May 31, 2009
I love these guys! Don't be fooled by the limited selection on their website. They have a much more extensive listing they are working to get online and happily worked with me to put together an extraordinary selection of salvia I was looking for. So, for anything they carry, do ASK if they have something additional you should be looking at. And if you have questions about a variety they carry, they have great info and are happy to provide it. They really helped me sculpt my garden plans. There were some small communication and shipping issues, but the company was quick to respond and I am a very happy customer. Already placed my second order! Will return!

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