The National Arbor Day Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees.
Our shipping seasons are in the Spring from approximately February 2nd to May 30th and in the Fall from approximately November 1st to December 10th depending on the weather factors that allow us to ship safely. The trees are shipped at the appropriate planting time for your horticultural zone. For more information about shipping bare-root stock, please call the National Arbor Day Foundation Member Services Department at 888-448-7337 or contact us at http://www.arborday.org/contact.
The ten free trees that you receive for becoming a Member of The National Arbor Day Foundation are shipped via the U.S Postal Service standard mail which means that these may take a bit longer to arrive. These trees can be shipped to a P.O. Box or to a physical address. Our Tree Book or nursery stock is shipped by either USPS Priority Mail or UPS depending on the shipment size and cannot be sent to a P.O. Box, they can only be sent to a physical address.
I ordered a sargent crabapple tree from Arbor Day. I planted it this spring. It's dead. I won't order from this company again. I didn't like how it was packaged. It never grew into anything more than an ugly little dead twig.
I have purchased membership with NADF for several years because I believe in their mission; however, I will not be renewing because the quality of the last few orders has been very poor.
They state that they guarantee delivery of healthy trees. My first order for 2016 was the 10 free trees and 8 redbuds are still alive. The second order included a variety of trees that I purchased: maple, magnolia, beech, sourwood, and aspen and 3/5 are still alive.
In 2017 I ordered another batch of 10 trees: oaks, viburnums, crabapple, tulip, hawthorn, spruce, viburnum, dogwood, and river birch. All of these were dead on arrival except one of the viburnums.
Finally I ordered hazelnuts in March and only one tree is alive.
All trees were planted correctly the day I received them.
Meanwhile they continue to solicit me with offers to order stock. I plan on writing them and asking them to remove me from their lists.
blueinmo Saint Charles, MO (1 review) February 8, 2017
As with most people's reviews, I got 10 sticks in the dead of winter, so I don't really expect them to survive. However, I did some research online and both charitywatch and the better business bureau's give.org give the arbor day foundation positive ratings for being legit. It's unfortunate that they don't do a better job, because I'd love to order more of the trees that they offer, but after my experience, I will never order again for them, nor will I become a member.
I joined this cause a few years back, and haven't renewed for the following reasons:
The ten trees they sent were merely twigs, bare root, and some of them had hardly any root, at all. I don't have great luck with bare root anything, and it may just be me. Still, I planted them, and nothing survived.
I would have been willing to try again, except for the fact that AFTER I had joined and paid my membership fee, they continued to send me various additional solicitations for membership -- as though they were totally UNaware that I had already joined.
I finally called the number they had provided and asked the very arrogant man whom I got on the phone why I was still getting solicitations to join when I was already a member.
He wouldn't give me a straight answer.
To this day, I have no idea why they did that. The man wouldn't give me a CLEAR answer to my question.
I don't do business with people who won't give me straight answers to legitimate questions when I have a right to know those answers.
I'm still supportive of planting trees, and indeed we have planted several on our property, which we acquired as seedlings (with roots and needles already on them) from our University Extension's forestry classes department.
I'm a stickler for open, honest and upfront communication. When I can't get that, it always raises a red flag.
I'm not saying this is a bad organization -- just one I no longer wish to deal with.
Been a member since 1998. Believe in their tree planting cause. Most of what we ordered from them has not overwintered. Recommended they send items during dormancy in spring. Also do not send when ground is frozen. Not one request was tailored. We know how to plant, and plant same day (except when the ground was frozen). As my PhD ag bro said, it is the stock.
bstnh1 Barrington, NH (Zone 5a) (4 reviews) May 7, 2016
The trees and shrubs from this outfit are better referred to as "rooted cuttings". For what you get, the prices are high. Places like Musser Forests sell better quality trees and shrubs at a much better price. I ordered river birch, red maples and forsythia from Arborday last fall. They were well packed. A few of the red maples survived, none of the river birch made it and the forsythia made it but with significant die-back. I have planted hundreds of trees and shrubs from various sources for decades. In all those plantings, I have never had a single plant fail - until I put in those from Arborday.
I became a member and also purchased a dozen trees. They have not shipped the ten trees that come with membership yet, though they keep promising to. They just can't get order of a dozen trees right. They sent four, I complained. They sent one more. Every time they send all of these free trees (junk). Just send the trees I ordered and paid for. No need to send part orders or free junk trees. I would think counting trees would be an integral part of business. By the way, nothing has survived.
I would never waste my time again. For a few dollars more I can buy a one gallon tree locally, and they live.
I started ordering from this company this year (2016) and have thus far received two orders from them - though one was their "10 free tree" thing. I have to say that over all, I'm pleased with my experiences with them and will likely order from them again.
The ten free baby trees I received were the flowering tree bunch (crabapple, flowering dogwood, Eastern redbud, hawthorn, and two extra crapemyrtles) I've potted all of them in a mixture of plain old garden dirt and aged manure and all are flourishing except two (one dogwood and one redbud) which I consider to be very good odds, as the two babies still lacking any signs of life are a little more delicate than some of the other types. I'll give them a few more weeks and see if they come around.
The second time I ordered from them, I got two apple trees, one butternut, one Rose of Sharon, and also received the free red maple and two free forsythias as part of their ordering promotional deal. All arrived healthy and are doing well (one apple tree was almost six feet tall!) I'm waiting for them to wake up from dormancy but all have the telltale green beneath their bark. The maple has been sitting in a bucket of water for the past several days and is already budding out with leaves. I have high hopes for these plants.
In 2015 my mother and I got the "free" 10 trees for joining the Arbor Day Foundation. I'd read the reviews that stated members had gotten "sticks" so I was prepared to get sticks.
I did receive bareroot trees, which were all alive, and basically looked like sticks. I dusted each with mycorrhizal fungi and potted them up in several plastic pots with good soil, compost, and I think aged horse manure. The little guys took off, grew over the summer, and all did well.
Fast forward to spring 2016. Three or four didn't survive (or at least didn't pass the scratch test) but the rest have buds and very well developed root systems. Since I still don't have homes for them yet, I've repotted them into larger pots, again giving them a good sprinkling of mycorrhizal fungi. I've potted the "dead" ones as well, just in case. They'll probably stay in pots this year, since they are still on the small side, an easy to mow height, and also seem like they'd be interesting to deer and bunnies.
I ordered several red maple trees from Arbor Day in 2014. When the leaves developed in spring 2015, ALL of them were silver maples. I don't want silver maples, so I emailed customer service with pics of the leaves and they sent replacement "red maples" this winter. The leaves are now developing, and guess what? They're all silver maples! I've gotten oaks, elm, and sourwood trees from them with no problem. But they can't seem to pull off maple identification. They'll get no more money or support from me.
MamaFil South Pittsburg, TN (1 review) February 16, 2016
I've ordered from this organization twice, and never received one tree. They promised, for two years, to correct the mistake in the next season, and never did, even with repeated phone calls and e-mails. My sister had the same experience. I will not be trying again, ever.
I ordered a weeping willow, a peach tree, 90 privets, and received the ten free trees. Also, I was given a second weeping willow and two forsythia bushes for free. When we received our trees, they were packed perfectly in moist wrapping protecting healthy bare roots. The peach tree was surprisingly tall and healthy, as was everything else we bought. The peach tree was exceptional, though. We received our trees at the end of March 2015 in Northwest Ohio and ended up not planting until April and May (and some even in August!). We kept our trees in buckets outside and they continued to flourish. We had no reason to wait except for life and laziness. As terrible as we initially treated the trees and bushes, they all thrived and we never lost ANY. I do not understand the bad rap this company receives, specifically regarding the ten free trees. Of course they are going to be small! They are healthy and FREE. This company is a non profit. Ease up and stop expecting giant, lush trees for cheap or free. We are dealing with live plants and people need to keep this in mind. Even the most popular nurseries have bad plants. It happens. They have excellent customer service and great plants.
CindyC720 Walnut Creek, CA (1 review) December 21, 2015
We put in an order in early October and also became members. I was a little concerned about what might or might not arrive based on the feedback I've seen. But I was pleasantly suprised! We ordered 2 Sweetgum trees, 2 hydrangeas, 3 north privets, 2 beauty bushes and we received the free red maple. We also got the 10 free flowering trees for becoming members. They are white dogwoods and American redbuds.
First we received the 10 free trees. They accidentally gave us an extra dogwood. When I opened the package I smelled the smell I had read about but the plants looked healthy and passed the scratch test.
A few days later we got the main package. I had high hopes after seeing the condition of the free trees and WOW. The free red maple was described as having a shipping height of 3-4' but it is more like 5-6' not including roots. It was slightly bent over in the box it's so big! And it was free! I can't get over that. It has one secondary branch along with the main trunk and plenty of little buds. I didn't even scratch test the trees in this order because they all have lots little buds on them and look great! The sweetgum trees have lots of little branches and plenty of buds. I can't wait to see them all come alive in spring!
Overall I was very happy with my order and we paid around $60 with membership fees and all. Not too shabby if you ask me! I'm planning on raising some of the free membership trees and selling them so they will probably pay for themselves eventually. I will definitely be ordering from them again and would recommend.
WonkaChad Lovettsville, VA (Zone 7a) (3 reviews) December 15, 2015
Posted on December 3, 2015, updated December 15, 2015
Back in August 2015, I paid the membership to get the 10 free trees AND I made the mistake of ordering 2 forsythia, a Japanese maple & 6 hydrangea. Now it is December 3rd & I am being told my order has been moved to the Spring shipping schedule. They only told me this because I CALLED THE ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION. They did not reach out to tell me there was a delay in my order at all. I have cancelled the order & have informed them I will never renew a membership. They have said, however, I should get my \"10 free trees by December 8th\" I\'m not going to hold my breath on that one either.On December 15th, 2015, WonkaChad added the following:
My 10 free trees finally arrived on December 12th. They were reasonable well packed but it is clear that with the way they are packaged they need to go into the ground ASAP. They are tiny twigs but all did arrive alive. Hopefully they will still be alive next spring.
yardener Greenfield, OH (Zone 6a) (19 reviews) September 14, 2015
Posted on January 16, 2009, updated September 14, 2015
What do you expect for 10 bucks. Over the years its been kind of a hobby for me to see if the sticks will grow into anything. After ordering 40 flowering \"sticks\" (the last order was 5 years ago) I have 3 Washington Hawthorns and 2 crabapples. Lets see, thats 1 out of 8 that make it to waist height in 10 years. Thats $8 per tree. Still a good bargain? I wouldn\'t waist my time.
I\'ve had over 85% success rate with better bargains at other tree sources.
If you want a challenge, order from NADF. If you want trees, go somewhere else.On September 14th, 2015, yardener changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
6 years later and I sill have 1 hawthorn and 1 crabapple from my original order. I have to be fair and admit that 2 each made it to over 10 feet in height but I had to cut the others down.
I'm upgrading to neutral simply because the trees can live with the proper care, but I'm guessing MOST people don't want to start out with 6" sticks.
Posted on May 5, 2015, updated July 14, 2015
Like several of the recent posts, I read these comments after already ordering 10 shrubs (3 forsythia, 4 mock orange, 3 red twig dogwood) and 2 trees (autumn flowering cherry and red maple) from the Arbor Day Foundation and boy was I rattled! Based on some of what I read, I guessed that many people had unrealistic expectations of what they were ordering, but nevertheless I was concerned I had wasted my money.
I must say, though, that what I received in the mail entirely lived up to (or exceeded) my expectation. For starters, the plants arrived promptly within a week of ordering, which was better than what I expected. With almost all of the plants I ordered being under 10 dollars (3 of them were entirely free - 2 forsythias and a red maple), I knew that all would be young saplings - essentially small sticks with roots. I mean, come on people, you get what you pay for! I\'ve got other big beautiful trees in my yard that I ordered from a local nursery and for 4 good sized trees, it cost over $800. Keep expectations in check and you may be pleasantly surprised. Both trees (sticks) were impressively large to me - about 3 ft in length. The smallest shrubs were the 2 free forsythias that were about 12\" tall, all others were between 2 and 3 ft tall.
Since many reviewers reported plants DOA, I gave all of mine a quick scratch test and all were living. Only one was questionable that had some dead branches (the forsythia I paid for), but the base was still living - will update later what did and didn\'t survive. I followed the instructions to the letter and soaked them in water around 5 hours. I planted all of them the same day and I\'m excited to say that ONE DAY LATER I already noticed small signs of new growth on a few. These are baby plants - so I intend to baby them, as should anyone ordering. Keep to a watering schedule so they aren\'t dried out and be sure the location chosen for planting is appropriate.
I felt I needed to post this to help outweigh all the negative comments. Again - I will be happy to update in the future to let you know the outcome of my purchases, but so far so good. I have other friends that have ordered trees through the Arbor Day Foundation and none have had anything negative to say. One friend drove me past the 3 trees she planted 3 years ago and all were healthy and thriving.
Happy planting!On July 14th, 2015, elmbelle added the following:
Update! We have had records amounts of rain here in Tulsa, so no watering schedule was needed. Every. Single. Plant. Is thriving! They are growing like crazy - even the one forsythia that had one dead twig has put up tons of growth from the base. Many have doubled and tripled in size. Both trees ordered are doing well - full of leaves. The Red Maple was a gift to my in-laws and they say it is bursting with large maple leaves. It's too bad I can't add pictures - it is impressive to see. Even my husband (who is not a gardener at all) has been shocked by how well they are all doing.
I remain one very satisfied customer! Thanks Arbor Day Foundation!
I ordered two apple trees and received a free red maple. When I ordered the trees I was given the option to have them shipped now or wait until fall planting season. I chose ship now. When I received the trees I was pleasantly surprised. The apple trees were about 3 feet tall each. I soaked them in water and planted them. The apple trees started to bud out about a week later. They are doing really good. I also planted the red maple. It was smaller but it budded out within a couple of day and its growing nicely. I am really happy with my trees. I ordered a bunch more for the fall planting season, over $200 worth of shrubs and trees. I will definetly order from Arbor Day again.
My girlfriend joined the Arbor Day Foundation and donated the $10 because she wanted the free 10 flowering trees. About a week later I decided to join and donate to get the 10 bird lover trees. It's been 2 months and neither of us received any trees. We contacted the company and they said both of our orders had been shipped out and must've been lost in the mail, but that now they couldn't ship us any trees since the Spring season was over and we had to wait until Fall. Curious as to how many others this happened to, I went online and did a search. Sure enough, with the thousands of other people this has happened to, it seems to be quite a scam that has netted them a whole lot of money and there is nothing anyone can do about it except to use public forums to let others know.
EM007 California City, CA (3 reviews) May 18, 2015
For many years, I avoided the Arbor Day Foundation because of all the negative reviews on this site. But after losing many expensive trees from local nurseries, I decided to join arbor day.org because the lower prices allowed me to plant more trees at once.
I placed two orders totaling $150. Customer service was polite and helpful. I received 50 trees including member trees and free trees and only 1 looked dead when unpacked (a hydrangea costing $2.79). The free trees and those under $3 tended to be small but healthy. The nursery trees costing $5+ were large and robust.
Despite a very hot spring in the mojave desert (86°-91°F and humidity as low as 15%) 80% of these seedlings survived, which is a higher success rate than I expected. Will certainly buy again.
I've ordered trees from Arbor Day last year and although small, each tree was nicely shaped, no broken branches, well packed and alive. I'm sorry to have to say that the trees I received this year did not live up to last year's shipment literally. Supposedly two Douglas Fir replacements are on the way (only ones I reported DOA) and as for the others, pin oak, tulip tree, sugar maples, a plum and a red bud, to date I have not seen one iota of life. Before receiving this shipment I also ordered a sweet bay magnolia. It also arrived with each leaf dried out and turning brown. In the future, I'll spend the extra money to get a nice, well packed tree from Spooner Farms. Should they fail me, that's it for buying plants online!
I read all these negative reviews after ordering my plants from Arbor Day Foundation as well; however, I too was pleasantly surprised at the quality of trees that I received. My first order was for two Dawn Redwood trees and a Red Maple. The trees, although small, were healthy and in bud. The packaging was tight and well done. After a month in the ground, all three trees are doing well. My second order was for 10 Forsythia plants. I thought the plants would be tiny sticks, but lo and behold, they were all about two feet in height and well packaged. I didn't have time to plant them in their permanent location, so I planted them all in one-gallon pots, and I am happy to report a 100% survival rate as well as some of them putting out a few blooms. As an aside, I noticed that both orders came from a nursery about 60 miles from my home. I can only surmise that Arbor Day Foundation sub-contracts with local nurseries in order to supply trees that are both locally grown and healthy. I will order from Arbor day again!
factorx Mount Pleasant, TN (1 review) April 25, 2015
I read these reviews AFTER placing our order for 10 Flowering Trees last fall. I would not have ordered based on what I read here, but it seems people who are unhappy are far more likely to post than the people who are happy.
It took longer to receive the trees than expected. But the trees were exactly as expected, plus the two bonus crepe myrtles. About a week later we received a second complete set, by mistake.
We left them in our garage for longer than we should have, but did get them in the ground following the instructions they include to plant them at an angle. The place we chose was close to the house to provide extra shelter, but we didn't realize it was also an area that's wet. And then we had an unusually harsh February with snow and ice on them.
It's now late April and I'm happy to report that of the 24 plants about 18 of them are doing well. We lost a couple of the dogwoods, which got the worst of the wet. And I think only 1 of the 4 crepe myrtles are OK.
It should be noted it appears we lost a couple established crepe myrtles (a couple years old each, purchased from nurseries) - too much cold for the younger ones, I guess.
Frankly, I didn't expect this success rate - and that was before reading the reviews here and not caring for them optimally! So, for $10 we have at least 18 trees with leaves that appear to be doing fine. I'm happy.
I wish I would have read the reviews. I got the 10 flowering tree package. I'm not too confident they will survive. I think one of the Washington hawthorns was dead on arrival. I also ordered 3 other trees and was supposed to receive a free red maple. I'm not sure what happened with those. Haven't seen them.
gsimcik Huntington, NY (2 reviews) November 24, 2014
Joined as a member in the spring and received 10 bare root Colorado Blue Spruce seedlings. Once summer rolled in, they began to perish, one by one, until only one seedling had survived in the fall. Also, ordered two American hazelnut bare roots in the summer, but did not receive during their fall shipping. Later, customer service told me that my credit card number on file did not work and as a result the seedlings weren't shipped. However, no one at the organization reached out to me to let me know there was a billing problem until it was too late to ship for the season.
devinevegan Igo, CA (Zone 9a) (12 reviews) June 5, 2014
Posted on April 30, 2014, updated June 5, 2014
I will update my review as time goes on but for now I'll list it as neutral. My husband and I submitted our $10 donation to receive 10 free trees and 2 free shrubs. Months later they arrived, around the date of average last frost for our area, so that was to be expected. The bag of water the roots were sitting in was very brown, milky and smelly. None of the trees or shrubs were broken but they were all very thin and small. We planted them in pots and will update on their condition, no change in them yet.On June 5th, 2014, devinevegan changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:
Update: Only one shrub out of 10 plants has grown leaves. The others never grew any leaves at all.
itsmesue Canton, IL (Zone 5b) (8 reviews) May 31, 2014
I would never have suspected a place that is supposed to be so very special about taking care of our planet and about trees to be so very very very *disappointing*.
Oh my gosh! I was excited about ordering trees from "The National Arbor Day Foundation". I had grown up hearing how wonderful this organization is. I even paid the extra money to not only order trees but to join it.
But what I got was shocking. I was shocked by how awful the items I got looked and I felt the quality was horrible. I feel as if all I did was waste money on stuff that looks as if any of it lives and/or grows, will be a miracle.
I am totally disgusted that a place I trusted sent what I got.
NEVER again will I trust them, NEVER again will I order anything from them.
And I strongly recommend no one else buy from them. I hope to save anyone else the experience I had with The National Arbor Day Foundation trees you order and pay for from their website.
krasim MOUTH OF WILSON, VA (1 review) May 15, 2014
I ordered fruit trees from this company/organization some years back. The cherry trees that I ordered were very small and took years before you could identify them. I was so disappointed to find out that the 2 bing cherry trees as well as the 2 black Tartarians were in fact all ornamental cherry trees. :( Being the Arbor Day Foundation, you would think that they would send you the right trees. I contacted them with pictures. After they examined them, they still said it was the Bing trees I ordered even though I told them the cherries were bitter and the size of a very small pea. Then, I invited a member of the local agriculture dept. to take a look. At this point they did reimburse me the $40.00 I originally paid for them years previously, but I was sad about this too because they grew sturdy and tall and all that time wasted to find out they were not what I ordered. By the way,they were all the same and I ordered 2 different varieties.Also I bought 2 different plum trees methley and damson, well years later, I have 2 identical plum trees with thorns and very small plums. I will never buy from them again and would not recommend buying from them.
I should have read the reviews first. If you are wiser and reading this review know the following:
1. Do not expect to receive plants from your order. You will receive twigs.
2. The 10 free plants are 10 twigs about 6 inches in length shipped as a bundle. These are not potted plants. They are shipped without any soil.
3. I expected that at least the tree saplings that are listed with longer lengths will be shipped with proper proportions and as living plants. No, they were twigs too, tied together in a bundle.
I don't know whether these will grow at all, I will try anyways.
Do not spend your money thinking you are spending it after a charitable cause. This company from all accounts and my own experience seems to be running a scam. If you feel charitable, donate money to a good charity organization. If you wish to help with reforestation, do it yourself. If you want to grow trees on your own property, find a good local nursery.
Lianimals Newberry Springs, CA (Zone 9a) (1 review) April 30, 2014
I really hate to say it, but I can no longer in good faith support the Arbor Day Foundation based on the last two years of plant performance from this organization. The first year I became a member, I received my membership trees about a month later than is optimal for planting in my desert region. By the time the bare root 'sticks' arrived, daytime temps were approaching 90's which is pretty warm for a struggling little seedling. Although not one of those trees lived, I chalked it up to it being late in the season with soils just too dry to support early growth. On that occasion, I did not complain or request replacements.
So, this year, I contacted the ADF twice to request an earlier shipping date and they did in fact comply with my request, sending the free trees in mid-March which was perfect. I went to great lengths to plant these quickly and under perfect conditions but despite my experience with and care of these bare root plants, only 2 of the ten have leafed out. The rest are officially dead and I suspect were never viable to begin with. In attempting to request replacements, so far I have been getting the email run-around from the ADF and they are still suggesting elementary things like 'do a scratch test' despite my explaining two weeks ago in my initial inquiry that the cambium of all the remaining seedlings was dry and brown. What it comes down to is this: if the Arbor Day Foundation showcases its wonderfu contributions to conservation, then they'd better factor in the millions of gallons of precious water that people are pouring on dead seedlings.
I joined the foundation because I love plants. Even sent the foundation $20 dollars so that I could get the 'free' plants they were offering. What happened, nothing!! Did not get any plants but I did get the offer to send them more money. This foundation is BS!! Do not join! Do not send money!
Wazimd Lawrenceville, GA (1 review) February 14, 2014
About 6 years ago I joined, the Arbor Day Foundation. I was very excited and bought several trees including 2 Sweet Cherry Trees (Bing and Black Tartarian). After a few years they were 8 feet tall with a 4 feet spread, they gave flowers but did not give me any fruits for a few years. I decided to wait a few more years, got a few really tiny berries one year and then the same the year after that.
Never found out what kind of tree it was, but I know one thing it was not a Bing Cherry. So I cut them down and used them for fire wood. Sorry I had to wait so long to find out that this company was running a SCAM!!!
clj422 Parkersburg, WV (1 review) December 1, 2013
got my trees yesterday. of course ground is frozen and there is snow on the ground. shouldn't the arbor day foundation know this is not the time for planting trees?
cnstrxgrrl Chillicothe, IL (2 reviews) August 15, 2013
I went into this purchase knowing that I was not going to get large, semi-mature plants. Honestly, when one sees the low prices, one should assume that.
I ordered 100 north privet plants in March of 2012. When I was given a 'time window' of shipment, I asked to hold off until a certain date. Arbor Day did this with no problem whatsoever.
They arrived as small sticks. Some were a bit on the small side compared to others, but I planted them anyway. When a rep called me a few months later to check up on my satisfaction with the purchase, I mentioned the small ones. She placed a note in my customer file, and told me to call the next spring and report any that died over the winter, and any that were still very small. Of 100 plants, I only lost 1. Those are pretty good odds!
So, in spring of 2013, I called in with my dead shrub count, and a count of those that seemed undersized, which were about 6. These replacements were sent to me free of charge, and both times I received shipments, the plants were packed well and moist.
Overall, I am pleased with the outcome. The shrubs are growing very well, and this year they are easily double to triple the size they were last year when I planted them.
I'd recommend buying from Arbor Day, as long as you realize that you're not going to get a big tree/shrub in the mail. That is simply not realistic of any garden company, so a local nursery is the better option if you're looking for a more mature specimen.
I just received an offer from the Arbor Day Organization that promises me I will get "free" trees for completing a survey. After reading the offer more closely, I could see that I needed to make a donation of at least $10.00 in order to get the trees. They tried to disguise their offer by saying I could redeem "free vouchers". I would have been more likely to send them the money if they had just been honest about their offer. The trees can't be "free" when getting them requires a donation. Why couldn't they just say that they were giving me the opportunity to purchase some trees for a small price? I bet that the survey is a meaningless part of the offer and they aren't interested in my opinions about trees. They just want my money.
Wonsungee Saint Johnsbury, VT (1 review) June 22, 2013
In late May, I ordered 60 bare-root trees from this website for spring planting. They included 12 Sugar Maples, 20 Eastern White Pines, 6 Bur Oak, 10 Snowdrift Crabapples, and 10 Spruces (half Norway, half Colorado Blue). The trees arrived 2 weeks later, in early-mid June. This is rather late, though not too bad considering my northern position. I planted all of the trees within a week, and I have noticed many of the maples, crabapples, and pines already coming out of dormancy, and developing leaves. The oaks are exiting dormancy much more slowly, but are still very much alive. The spruces, which I planted relatively late (5 days after receiving the trees) are faring more poorly; the Colorado Blue Spruces are all doing reasonably well, but I expect all but one, maybe two, of the Norway Spruces to die. Not too big of a deal though, I have 50 more healthy trees.
Altogether I am satisfied with my experience with the Arbor Day Foundation, and will offer some tips to prospective buyers:
* The trees varied widely in condition and health; some had branches developed, others were nothing more than stalks with a few buds (or pine needles). Because of this admittedly unavoidable consequence of purchasing trees online, I would recommend assigning a priority to each planting site. Planting the more healthy, vigorous trees in a more important site, and putting the sickly trees in a temporary site to serve as potential replacements would appear to be the best option.
* The conifers in general seemed to be much more negatively effected by the shipping process than the deciduous trees. Perhaps this is due to conifers having a less pronounced dormant period, and having much more fragile root systems (my conifers were <1 ft tall, while the hardwoods were all more than 3 feet). Take special care planting them.
* The flowering trees sold on this website have been growing exceptionally well; the "Snowdrift" Crabapples I ordered were the first to develop leaves, and none demonstrate any sort of weakness.
To conclude, I would urge others to follow this advice, and keep in mind that the most important thing to do after plant reception is to ensure that the root systems of the trees do not dry up; that is a sure way to have a dead tree!
The Pros: My trees came about 3 feet tall, which I feel is appropriate for the price. I ordered around 13 fruit trees, all of which show signs of life and are growing. They came in good condition, but the hazel nut trees I ordered are still in dormancy, so I cannot say if they are alive or dead.
The cons: The 10 free oak trees I received ( a month earlier than my fruit trees) only one is showing signs of life, but the others seem healthy, and I think oak trees come out of dormancy later than other trees.
A couple of the trees rootstock were trimmed back too much IMO, although they are leafing and seem to be doing fine. I also think that the shipment came a little bit late for this area, in late may, almost June, but that is a matter of opinion.
Overall, I am very pleased since the only trees I really cared about ( the fruit trees) are doing terrific. Time will tell how they do, but I don't think I will have much of a problem. I am fairly happy with Arbor Day as they met and even exceeded some of my expectations.
I placed an order for several trees and also for a one-year membership last month. The price can't be beat but in reality, the chances of receiving viable trees is 50-50 at best. Several of the deciduous trees I received had no sign of any life (despite being mid May). The hemlocks I ordered were devoid of a single needle on any of their small branches and were obviously dead. Some of the other trees appeared to have some buds and may yet survive.
I had joined Arbor Day and paid for a one-year membership a few years ago too. At the time, I merely took advantage of the "10 free trees" that they always offer with membership. Of the 10 small twigs they sent back then, about half never showed any signs of life. A few others died almost immediately. Three actually survived. I didn't even bother ordering the 10 free trees offered with my membership this time, opting instead to order from their catalog instead. However, I don't think I will bother with them again though.
Sure wish I had read the reviews first! All ten free trees, dead. Both Apricot trees, dead. Both apple trees remain under 3 feet after 5 years. Forsythias so small that I ran over them with a push mower, never seeing them. All cedars, dead. Red maple, dead.
I thought I was helping a non profit so I placed a large order. Big mistake.
I have ordered multiple small trees and plants from Arbor Day, with few complaints given their prices. Their best deal is most assuredly the 10 included trees when becoming a member for $10. One must remember that these trees are small, and this is a charity attempting to reforest the country, not send full grown trees. I have rarely had trees from Arbor Day die, and even then only in the extreme drought of summer 2012.
What Arbor Day's trees are great for is establishing roots correctly. When you buy an eight foot tree from a garden center, the roots are wrapped in a tight ball circling the inside of the pot. These roots will not spread out normally, and planting a large enough hole disturbs the soil's capillary columns. I planted a garden center oak over a year ago and it still shifts in heavy rain and wind because of its poor root structure (despite a excellent and broad planting hole) Arbor Day's trees are saplings, and their roots are not yet in balls. It is best to water them deeply once a week, or, better yet, plant them using a dew/rain collection storage device like a Groasis Waterboxx to allow them to develop deep, natural roots. Arbor Day ships according to planting schedule, which is helpful. Also, I get satisfaction in replanting the nation's forests with my purchase.
I joined them last year and received a bag of 10 moldy sticks with some anaerobic mud at the bottom of the bag. I didn't care about that, I joined them to help their cause, not get free stuff. Once they got my address, they started sending me a ton of junk mail asking for more money. If they planted 10 trees in my name, they must have killed 15 others to get the paper to send me junk mail. It appears that they also gave my address to two other places that also want $10 donations for free junk. One was to save wolves, the other one was to save the rain forests.
Later, I joined their $20 hazelnut program and received three twigs, the tallest of which was 3 inches high. The nuts were still attached to the small twigs but were growing green mold. In fact, the whole inside of the bag was green mold with roots and three tiny sticks poking out. When I tried to lift the hazelnut twigs out of the bag, two of them just desentigrated. The third one has grown more mold and shown no signs of plant growth.