I've ordered seeds from this company for years now, and have always been pleased with them - germination always was good.
SS is the catalog I await with baited breath, eager to see what's new in their great assortment of heirloom flowers. I also like their commitment to the environment and protection of bees and other pollinators.
This year I decided to order plants. Despite the high price of shipping I chose 2 varieties of Heliotrope and 1 sweet violet. Sadly, the package was crushed and the plants were damaged, broken and stressed.
I was surprised and upset because I had expected better from this company. A regular priority mail flat box from the post office just isn't good enough to ship 3 potted plants! During shipment the sides of the box collapsed and crushed the contents - my pretty heliotropes and the violet.
A call to customer service solved the problem - replacements would be shipped and the service rep. asked me (nicely) to send in the label from the damaged box. Seems my order shouldn't have been shipped out in such a manner. I did as asked, but didn't follow up on what, if anything was done.
The replacements arrived quickly, properly packed and in very good condition. The plants were healthy and had a few bud and open flowers so I could verify that they were indeed scented. This is sadly not always the case nowadays.
Reading the other reviews it seems to me that my experience was the exeption. Still, I'm surprised that it happened precisely because SS has such a stellar reputation. I'm not sure if I will order plants again. The shipping charge is steep for my budget and I'm not eager to repeat another unhappy experience.
On Jul 18, 2012, flowers4birds Chilton, WI (Zone 5b) wrote:
I was happy to find this company recommended at Dave's Garden, and ordered a catalogue.
There I found just the seeds I was looking for: Hard to find antique and fragrant plants. I ordered seeds immediately and they were shipped quickly in excellent condition. I planted indoors many of the seeds that require a head-start in our Zone 5 climate. Most of the seeds did very well, but only one feverfew (virgo) germinated from the entire packet, and only one Datura (evening fragrance) germinated. The rest of the seeds were dead as if they were old outdated seeds. This may be the fault of their suppliers, but apparently they do not test the seeds for viability. Only Half of the white Heliotrope seeds germinated. All the other indoor planted seeds did fine.
When I planted seeds outdoors, the weather was already too hot and dry to expect total success because we had a spring that came two months too soon, and May weather was more like July. However I watered diligiently. About half of the Fairy trumpet Four o' clocks came up, but very few Snowpuff cosmos germinated. Snow on the mountain is doing very poorly, but maybe it was too hot when planted them. Coincendentally the seeds I bought at Walmart did just fine. Some seed I never planted because it was already too hot e.g. sweet peas et. al.. Everything else germinated well and I'm surprised how fast the stocks are growing in spite of being planted in hot weather, which they do not like.
I was very disappointed by the dead seeds, especially the feverfew, because I could find no other source for the double variety.
Will I order again? Probably; because there are so many wonderful choices I cannot resist; but of course I won't re-order the varieties that didn't germinate.
I cannot comment on their plants as I don't order perennial plants by mail. We live in a rural location where the people who deliver always set the package on the porch where it bakes in the sun until someone comes home. It's too risky.
On Jul 18, 2012, Select Seeds Antique Flowers responded with:
Select Seeds is committed to helping you have a beautiful garden, this year and every year! If you would like to contact us via email, we will put a credit on your account to use towards any future order. This summer has been extremely hot, I agree.
We have just finished our germination tests to ready us for fall seed orders. Virgo feverfew IS a problem and we are working to fix this. Our supplier indicated it was within our standards when it came in in January. We do not test when we receive stock.
Our standard for seeds is 80% or more for annuals, 70% or more for perennials, with a very few exceptions. Marine heliotrope, for example, has never, in the over 20 years we have carried it, germinated above 56%.
We grow some of our seeds and purchase the rest from well-regarded European seed houses.
As to the datura, it too has not passed our June testing, and is withdrawn from sale. We are growing it ourselves this year and hope to have a bumper crop of good seed for 2013.
Hope this helps explain our standards and policies. "
On Jan 29, 2008, fpgill lexington, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:
I was about to place an online order with Select Seeds (for 6 plants and 3 packs of seeds) when I noticed the shipping charge. Select Seeds is one of the companies that hits you with two shipping fees - one for plants and one for seeds. I asked if the seeds could be shipped with the plants and the charge discounted (nope).
The shipping would have been 31% of the order. FYI, the shipping for seeds alone is $4 - compare to JL Hudson who ships up to 20 packets for $1.50. Thanks, but I think I'll have to pass on Select Seeds.
On Jan 29, 2008, Select Seeds Antique Flowers responded with:
On Jan 30, 2008 9:57 AM, Select Seeds Antique Flowers added:
We appreciate all feedback on our company and service. We choose not to ship seeds and plants together because the seeds leave from our climate controlled storage separate from our greenhouse and we do not want to expose the seed packages to high humidity and possible wetting, which would lower quality. It is a reality today that shipping is expensive and the cost is either partially included in the product price or levied separately. Our plants are shipped to be in the mail or on the truck no longer than three days- we offer an express service with no additional express fees. We feel this is an excellent value. Thanks to all!
Marilyn Barlow, President, Select Seeds"
On Jun 5, 2007, kkirschbaum Yonkers, NY (Zone 6b) wrote:
I placed two orders with this company this past spring for seeds and plants. The seeds arrived very fast, but I did not receive my first order of plants until later in the spring. I was charged for the full order at the time the seeds were shipped. In principle, I think this is a dangerous practice, but since I did not have any problems when the plants did arrive, I can't really complain. The second order of plants arrived in very bad condition. The package must have been manhandled since the soil from the plants was all over the inside of the box and some of the plants (the moon vines in particular) had almost no soil. I planted them immediately, and within a few days it was clear they would survive (so I never needed to lodge a complain and thus cannot comment on customer service). The upshot is that I think the packaging is a bit slapdash, but depending on the order things might be fine (I had no trouble with the packaging in the first shipment of plants I ordered). I also quite like the selection of unusual and heirloom plants.
On Jun 5, 2007, Select Seeds Antique Flowers responded with:
On Jun 6, 2007 11:01 AM, Select Seeds Antique Flowers added:
Thanks for your comments. This will help us improve your gardening experience with Select Seeds.
Unlike most gardening companies, Select Seeds charges for items as they are sent, not when they were ordered. On orders with seeds and plants, the complete shipping charge for the total order is charged when the first items ship, as our software cannot split shipping costs. I hope this helps, and as always, Happy Gardening!
Owner, Select Seeds
I placed two orders with this company. The first came in two shipments - seeds in the mail and plants (again) USPS. In my area the USPS is the WORST way to get anything delivered. When the seeds shipped I was billed on my credit card the FULL amount of shipping for seeds and plants. I had picked ship dates (as they offered on the site) and after waiting an additional week, beyond receipt of the seeds, and ship date, still not getting my my plants I placed a call to see where the stuff was. I was then informed the plants were not large enough to be shipped. Ok, so why did I have to phone them to get this info? They had both an e-mail address and my phone number. A delay on their part, I expect them to contact me.
I did get my plants then three days after placing a phone call. The box was clearly marked with an 'up arrow' that my wonderful (NOT) mail carrier let on the patio (in the full sun) upside down!
Second order; They do indeed have a lot of unique plants. So, I decided the first time around was a series of flukes. Had to be as they had NO negatives on this site. Well, I was wrong in that assumption. I was again billed an amount on my credit card - yes I check my activity each day on the card. So I waited and waited (again one assumes you are billed something has shipped, right?) I got tired of waiting for the arrival of something after 6 days and again phoned them. I was told that two of the collections I wanted were 'sold out' and it must have happened as I placed my order, thus the order went thru. Sounded odd to me, but what I do know about their computer system. I was told the third collection was going to be shipped yet that day. Yes, the very day I had called! The collection did ship and the plants were not in very good shape at all! Two were very tattered as if they had been in a wind storm. The others not as bad but not the best.
As I looked at my invoice I noted I was overcharged shipping by $8.00!! And as someone else noted their shipping is not cheap in the first place. By now I had more then enough and did again phone to ask about the over charge and too complained about the two tattered plants. They did (very promptly) credit me the $8.00 and a reasonable amount for the two plants and a shipping allowance for those plants.
I am not sure if I will order from them again or not. The experience was not good at all. I am not used to having to watchdog or babysit my orders. I do not care for the DHL to the USPS method of shipping either. It may be more my area, but all in all, the USPS delivers the worst crushed boxes!! On the other hand they DO have some very unique plants to offer!
Since the matter was resolved I will post a neutral comment vs negative. But it more negative then neutral - as I did give them two chances with two different orders.
I recently ordered seed from Select Seed and was a little underwhelmed. It took over two weeks after I ordered for the seed to get to me. When I wrote to the company and asked them when they had shipped my order, they told me "late last week", instead of a specific date. My experience has been that most seed companies with online ordering ship on the same day they charge your CC (Select Seed must have waited at least a week), and most automatically tell when they shipped your order. Their selection is good, but I was a little annoyed about the processing speed.
Great selection of seeds and reasonably priced for the quanity received. This company carries unusual varieties that I don't find in other catalogs.
In regards to their plants, I don't find them as high quality as other reviewers do. The prices for their annuals are equivalant to what I am used to paying for perennials. This year I ordered a climbing petunia and a "kiss me over the garden gate". Both arrived looking a bit "raggety" & I noticed a small snail in one of the plants which I immediatly distroyed. I planted both plants that same afternoon. The following morning, both were eaten to the ground. All my surrounding plants were fine so I am assuming that snail I found had friends in those plants. The petunia finally came back and is blooming nicely. The other plant never came back.
I probably will not order plants from them again. But since they also offer seeds for the most of the plants they offer, I will probably buy the seeds and see how that goes.
I was very pleased with the selection in the catalog. After browsing through it I jotted down some selections I was going to order--seeds, plants and bulbs. When I got to the order form I was unpleasantly surprised to find that there is a packing and handling fee for seeds, an additional packing and handling fee for plants, and yet another additional packing and handling fee for bulbs, books, etc.
So, for my order totalling about $32 the packing and handling charges totalled up to just over $16. Fifty percent handling fee is way too steep (although there are no shipping charges except possibly for seeds).
The packing and handling charges seem to be comparable to other companies if you're ordering only plants or only bulbs or only seeds (or if you place a very large order); I've yet to come across a company that charges all three for one order.
I'm tempted to negatively rank this company but don't feel it's appropriate without having ordered from them.