On Dec 26, 2011, camdenguy Stoutland, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:
I ordered 13 semi-dwarf supreme apple trees on Nov. 17 and 6 dwarf supreme peach trees on Nov.19 2011. The avg. cost was $24 each (Stark's offered FREE shipping) I dug my holes on Nov. 21 and then waited for my trees. When I got home from work on the 23rd, there were three large Stark Bros. boxes sitting on my west porch. We had family come in from out of state for Thanksgiving so we could'nt plant the trees until Sun. Nov. 27. My wife and I planted the trees in about 2 hours (it was raining, she was cranky) all trees were packaged good, looked healthy, well labeled, pre-pruned, and with large root systems. I should mention that I am now the fourth generation of my family to plant Stark Bros trees in SW Missouri. When our children and grandchrilden came home for Christmas, they insisted on going to the "instant orchard" to take family pictures. Stark's may have helped us start a NEW family tradition. We will order Stark Bros. blueberries and grape vines for spring 2012 delivery. We could'nt be happier with the service and product we received. Thank you Stark Bros. for helping me continue our family tradition!
On Dec 26, 2011, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Mar 2, 2012 11:51 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
And what a wonderful family tradition to have! The Stark family started with only a small apple orchard back in 1816 and continued *their* family tradition for nearly 180 years. : ) We know how exciting it is! So glad we could be a part of it with you. We'd be honored to see pictures should you ever want to show off the beauty of your home orchard. : )
I have to say I've been buying from Stark Brothers for 4 years now and am consistently pleased! This company always has great offers and prices and GOOD QUALITY trees. I ordered some blueberries this year and was discontent with the size for a few selections in 1 gallon pots. I called customer service and they apologized for the matter, told me to keep the selections i was discontent with, and refunded my money the next day! I also have NEVER had anything I've ordered from them fail to grow and I've ordered alot over the years. Stark trees grow and grow! For real!
I ordered from Stark Brothers for the first time this Fall - five apple trees and five cherry trees.
I was very pleased with the excellent communication from the company when I placed my order and again when it shipped, but even more pleased with the order itself. The packaging was wonderful, and each tree arrived with lovely moist roots and a very professional pruning job. The trees were nice size and very sturdy. I'm looking forward to watching them grow and bear in a few years.
I will definitely order from Stark Brothers again!
On Nov 19, 2011, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Mar 2, 2012 12:07 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
10 trees... you've started a mini-orchard! : ) We're so happy to know that your experience was a good one-- thank you for letting us grow with you. Fruit trees and plants have been our pride & joy for almost 200 years, and we love sharing the passion! Please keep us updated on how your apples and cherries fare. : )
Another wonderful nursery- among the best in customer service and quality- if a plant does not grow for some reason, let them know and they reship, no hassle whatsoever- most of my fruit trees have come from here and i will continue to order from them without any hestitation
Posted on June 18, 2011, updated August 24, 2011
Posted on April 9, 2011, updated June 18, 2011
In the midwest (Marion, IA), I have ordered and received the following bare-root trees from Stark Brothers' nursery:
Dwarf Goldcot Apricot (qnty = 2)
Hardy Giant Asian Pear (qnty = 2)
Dwarf Chojuro Asian Pear
Dwarf New Century Asian Pear
Dwarf Shiro Plum
Dwarf Starking Delicious Plum
All were received the week of April 2 (Wed, April 6) and immediately soaked in water. Four trees were soaked for 6 hours, the remaining five were soaked for 20 hours.
All nine bare-root trees had been pruned (both above ground vegetatively and roots). All nine were planted into self-watering 16 inch containers with Miracle Grow Plus Potting Soil with micronutrients. This was amended with Oscomote (slow-release fertilizer with micronutrients). Finally, worm bedding, Plant-Tone organic fertilizer and Bio-Tone natural Starter. The amounts were appopriate (per the stated guidelines) for the volume of potting soil in each container.
I expended great expense and effort in this "experiment" to reduce variables. The soil is NOT contaminated (assumption: commercial products mentioned above do not contain disease-producing elements or micro-organisms).
All nine self-watering containers have a one to two layer of mulch on the top surface.
All nine bare-root trees are what is commonly referred to as "whips" (few, if any, lateral branches).
This common practice improves space utilization for shipping purposes.
In addition, I have several purchased potted trees from last fall that I have potted in a similar manner, but with commercial-grade pots (large drainage holes) rather than the self-watering pots.
One variable I will NOT be able to control: the proliferation of Japanese beetles during the growing season and the possibility of disease infection resulting from their feeding on leaf tissues.
As the growing season progresses, I will provide updates on this review (leaf bud growth, flowers, size, diseases, etc).
On June 18th, 2011, pchinski added the following:
An update to the progress of the trees on June 18...
The two Korean Giant Asian Pear trees have "died back". A more definitive description: initial leaf and stem growth took place on several (2-3) buds along the whip, but have recently discolored and dried, curled up and no longer exist on the main stem. Thus there is no growth along the main stem or "whip" as it is commonly called.
I had initial doubts for all the trees the first few weeks as a few had no "branches" but were the "whips" and the length of time it took for new growth to appear seemed rather long...
But all trees (minus the two Giant Korean Asian Pears) have had new growth along several "buds" of the whip which I was surprised to see. All trees are still in the self-watering containers. I had to drain out excess water for some periods of time as we had quite a bit of rain and the soil within the containers was rather saturated.
No insect infestations of any sort.
As stated previously, no soil borne diseases since potting soil was used.
Soon our population of Japanese beetles will appear.
No flowers on any branches (not to be expected first year).
The overall "vigor" as demonstrated by the new growth is good, with the exception of the two Giant Korean Asian Pears.
The success rate so far: 7/9 trees surviving.On August 24th, 2011, pchinski added the following:
An update to the progress of the trees on August 24, 2011....
The two Korean Giant Asian Pears have died. No new growth has returned. The Japanese beetle infestation really took its toll on the leaves of the trees. Insecticide helped at times, but the numbers were so high and their presence so unpredictable, it was difficult to prevent them from consuming the tree leaves.
The stretch of hot, humid weather (approximately three weeks) in July ended up reducing the growth rates, but the recent moderate, average temperatures has spurred new growth.
I will now inform Stark Brothers of the two Korean Giant Asian Pears having not survived early on and reference the timing of the loss of the trees.
Success rate up to this point: 7/9 trees surviving.On Aug 24, 2011, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On May 23, 2011 11:01 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
We look forward to hearing about the progress of your fruit orchard! : )
Posted on May 16, 2011, updated July 30, 2011
First time i have ordered from stark bros... 1 walnut,1 almond,1 cherry,1 pear ,1 plum ,1 seed grown pecan and 2 pawpaw trees. All but the pecan tree are growing vigorously. Champion english walnut has grown by a third in height!! I was a little worried ordering through the mail but these trees are great . well maybe not the pecan lol but we'll give it some more time before sending it back.
On July 30th, 2011, maland added the following:
Crazy , Pecan tree sprouted in the third week of july , learn something new everyday.Other trees are still going strong...On Jul 30, 2011, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On May 23, 2011 10:51 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Welcome to Stark Bro's! And thanks for stopping by the Garden Watchdog to leave a comment. : ) All of our trees are grown right here in our orchards, & we take a lot of pride & love in getting them started for you. Every plant & tree that you order is covered by a 1-year warranty, too: should anything not live, *for any reason*, we'll ship you a free replacement.
It isn't the easiest thing, growing your own fruit, but it has a lot of delicious rewards! Thanks again for leaving a comment here, & please keep us updated on the progress of your trees. : )
On Jul 3, 2011, StevenColorado Englewood, CO wrote:
I have used Stark Bros several times. I don't like that I am not buying local, but that's my only complaint.
I find the prices a bit high, but the plant quality is always good. I have had to call customer service several times and have found the support staff intelligent and very well informed about plant growing.
Occasionally I have had a plant die and Stark has replaced it promptly with no hassles.
The order tracking is good, and I received emails stating when the order shipped, so I was given a few days' notice to prepare.
On Jun 25, 2011, ErockRPh Glocester, RI (Zone 6a) wrote:
I'm just starting my first garden this year, so I ordered a 10-pack of Purple Passion asparagus crowns, three thornless boysenberries, and a Raspberry Lover's Assortment (3 each of Heritage, Caroline and Anne) to get started. I was very happy with the price, even compared to my local big-box stores.
I did not get to plant everything out until a few days after I received my plants. Despite this, and despite our swampy spring up in the Northeast, my plants are all doing great. My asparagus are sending up a second set of shoots right now, and they are all thick and healthy. I can't wait to harvest some next spring.
I found their website to be very professional-looking, easy to use and well laid out. I have not needed to contact customer service for anything at this point.
Overall, I am very satisfied with my experience with Stark Bros. I will definitely be buying more asparagus and berry plants from them next year, and I will stongly consider using them if I decide to add some fruit trees to my yard in the future.
I bought two grafted Paw Paw trees. One has lived and the other has died. I contacted the company and they are replacing the tree this fall. I had no problems getting the replacement tree. They were very helpful.
On Jun 15, 2011, urbangratitude Clearwater, FL wrote:
We bought our first home 8 months ago,we are in the city close to the beach in Florida,the property has lots of shade trees,not many fruit trees.So looking add more but still being a newbie to this,I searched and searched online,and kept going back to Starks,I have seen many great reviews,a few negatives,but I went ahead and took my chances.I am so glad I did.I got 1 semi dwarf crab apple,1 almond,2 pecans,2 kiwis,2 grapes.My crab apple has only been planted for a week,and its full of new leaves,my almond trees have beautiful buds growing,my grapes are growing fast.I am so happy,I am so pleased.Now,being a newbie,I never seen a bare root tree before,never knew pruning could mean not a single branch left on a tree,so fearing the shock of opening my box,I researched bare root trees and prepared myself,and had I not,I probably would have had a heart attack.I planted these sticks in the yard with love and faith,I knew they were gonna grow beautifully, and they are,right now looking healthy and happy.I can't wait to order a gazillion trees for my yard,I wish I had ordered more this spring...Thank you Starks!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted on June 9, 2011, updated June 10, 2011
I had hoped to be able to write a positive or even a neutral review regarding Stark Bro’s. This will not be a rant about how I believe they run their business or how things are done there. It is merely how I felt from start to finish with my first order from them.
When I was looking at placing my order for what I wanted online; I was very pleased with the level of user friendliness the site had to offer. I was even pleased when I called into customer service to ask them some questions regarding a few of the fruit trees I was thinking about purchasing. They seemed very knowledgeable and answered all of my questions, and I was satisfied with this portion of my experience. This experience made me comfortable enough to order the products from them online.
During my order, I wanted a product added to my order but was not sure if it could be done due to the fact that I had already completed the order. I called customer service and asked them if it was possible and they handled the changing of the order right over the phone without any problems. Again, I was very pleased with the service. The following day, after doing some research on a couple of the trees I added to my order, I decided to again change them. I called customer service and once again they helped me without a problem. All was completed, the order indicated that all items were in stock and would be shipped out in the next few days. All I had to do now was wait for the shipment. I was a happy man, after all everything seemed to be going as smooth as possible.
Here is where things changed; the day my box arrived. The box arrived on time, just as their estimate said it would. Upon opening the box, I was completely thrown back by the conditions of the trees. For starters, I ordered (2) 2-n-1 Cherry Semi-Dwarf, (1) 2-n-1 Classic Pie Apple Tree Semi-Dwarf, (1) 2-n-1 Plum Semi-Dwarf, and (2) Hybrid Popular (Shade Tree). The condition of the hybrid poplars was this: both of the tree’s root were completely crammed into the box, so much so that I counted at least 3-4 (main roots) snapped off and hanging by a mere thread. Yes that’s right, the main roots, not the little stringy roots, but the roots that were at least ¼ in diameter. I was also told that the bare root trees were to be wrapped in a wet/moist material to help keep the roots from drying out. Both of the Hybrid Poplars trees came as bare root, and had absolutely NO wrapping around them. The roots felt very dry and very prone to snapping, I had to get them soaking in a water bucket right away. Another thing I noticed with the Poplars was that one had 10 nice branches and the other one had ZERO branches, it was a 4ft stick (I guess referred to as a whip). The next problem and this is the one that has caused me the most grief, was that the 2-n-1 Classic Pie Apple was completely missing from the box. I had to dig around for the packing list and there I saw that that particular tree was crossed out on the invoice and below marked in hand writing was a line that read “Sorry Item # 13896 is no longer available”. I was immediately frustrated by this because the whole time in placing the order, and being on the phone with customer service, never once was I told the item was out of stock. I was also charged for the tree even though it was never shipped out.
The following day, I got on the phone with customer service to explain to them all my concerns and to see what could be done. There was no explanation in regards to the broken roots other than if it dies then the tree will be replaced up to one year from now. When asked why the tree didn’t come with any wet/moist material protecting the roots, it was explained that, it is usually is normal for them to be wrapped but in case, the whole box is plastic lined so that should help keep the moisture to the roots. This was not an explanation that satisfied me. When asked about why one of the Poplar trees was nothing more than a stick, it was explained that it probably was due to them not having any other available. Finally my biggest concern was what was to be done about the apple tree that never came. After a little investigation, they said that well we just don’t have any more to sell. The only thing offered was a refund. I said the refund was the last thing I wanted; I wanted everything that could be done to be done to find that tree and have it sent to me. Six hours later, I got a call back stating there was nothing else besides a refund that could be done. I couldn’t even wait until next fall because they are no longer going to be selling that one anymore nor did they have any other varieties that were a 2-n-1. They mentioned that they tried to call me a couple of times to tell me that the tree was no longer in stock, even though they charged me for it. I went back through my phone call records (I have an IP phone and can track them in real time) and not once since placing the order has any out of state calls came to the house. My wife is also there all the time and would know if any calls came in.
I just wanted to state that this was MY PERSONAL experience. I wish it was a more positive one and I also had high hopes for future orders from them. I also had several people who were waiting to see how my order went with them before making future orders with Starks, which they are now re-thinking that choice. While I have nothing but good things to say about the customer service, I can’t say the same for division of the company that is in charge of putting the plants in boxes, pruning, and shipping. In all I have come away very unsatisfied with my order. I will most likely not be doing business with Stark Bros again.
On June 10th, 2011, spacemanzero changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Shortly after finishing up my review and posting it online. I was contacted by Stark Bros representative. I am not sure if it was in regards to the original post or if it was just coincidence but I wanted to share it.
The rep wanted to make sure that whatever could be done to help with my concerns was completely taken care of. I did mention that the tree that I wanted was no longer available and was of particular interest to me and that I hoped someone there was able to track it down. Unfortunately this was not the case as the tree was no longer there nor would it be coming back in stock. They did however offer me an alternative. They could ship out a different apple tree that also had two different types on it. The only downside to this was that it was not the original type I wanted and I will have to wait about 5 months to receive the tree. This was acceptable to me and made me feel a bit better that I was not going to have to go shopping around for someone else to get the tree from. They also expressed many apologies for the condition that Hybrid Poplar trees were in and said they would happily replace them if they showed no signs of growth within a couple weeks. They even offered to put another out for shipment, but I declined and said I would give the trees I have a chance to grow.
As I said in my first post, I have all the respect in the world for the customer service. They have taken what seems like a individuals attention to my concerns. Hopefully the problems I have experienced will help to resolve those issues so that future clients may not have to experience them. The customer service is what has changed my feeling towards the whole process.
On Jun 9, 2011, Pitcom Avondale, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:
Posted on June 8, 2011, updated June 9, 2011
Posted on June 7, 2011, updated June 8, 2011
Posted on May 23, 2011, updated June 7, 2011
I ordered Supreme Dwarf trees of the Harglow and Wilson Delicious apricots. I also ordered a supreme standard Santa Rosa Plum. I am disappointed with the apricot trees. BOTH trees are just a stick. That's it. They are about 42" tall and not one single branch anywhere on it. I don't understand the professional pruning of these trees as there is not one single pruned branch on the trees. The root balls are very unimpressive and extremely small. The Harglow is not even straight, it has a very definitive curvature to it .The largest root on the Delicious was no thicker than a pencil. I used the word was in past tense because the small root structure was cracked right at the base of the tree. I do not believe this to be a fault of Stark bros, as there was a crease in the shipping box. To sum these trees up, there is hardly any roots and no branches. I feel like i was mistakenly sent young trees that were not ready to be sold as supreme versions.
The customer service on the other hand was great. I called and told them about the problem with the cracked roots and was assured a new one would sent out. The women i spoke to was delightful and very courteous. They asked me to keep the box for a little bit, just in case it was needed. I have no problem helping out.
The Santa Rosa plum tree was SUPERB. The trunk is very thick and it has a wonderful branching pattern that was obviously well pruned. The root structure was fantastic. I felt proud to plant this tree in my yard. It really looked great.
I am left bewildered as to why i received one truly nice plum tree and two really sub par, and quite frankly, undesirable apricot trees. The tags on them read, supreme, but they look far from it. I will post an update when the replacement comes. Hopefully, it will be more in line with how nice the plum tree is.
On June 7th, 2011, Pitcom added the following:
Well, i got my replacement. This tree was undamaged, but was not much better than the original that was damaged in shipping. There is zero branches on it. The Harglow and Wislon Delicious trees i bought are whips, and the Wilson is half as thick as my pinky finger. I could have bought whips anywhere. the reason I ordered from stark was because these were supposed to be "supreme" trees professionally pruned. I really wanted to order more trees from Stark bros, especially considering how nice this plum tree is. It already has 6" of new grwoth on all 12 branches. But I feel duped on the apricot trees. The only reason i am not giving a negative is because of this plum tree. I will however be calling Stark bros to give some feedback.On June 8th, 2011, Pitcom changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:
After talking to customer service at Stark bros, I have decided to change my opinion on my order. The customer service rep, was nice, just as the last time. She stated that I should have received well branched trees, which fit their description as "supreme", and the only reason she could think as to why I did not, is because there may have not been any left. If this is true, then the vendor should have contacted me, to let me know of the situation, and asked if i wanted to cancel the order, or receive whips. They offered no resolution, and in my view Stark bros does not stand by their product. When you buy something online and are given a clear description of what that item should be, you do not expect to receive anything other than what you ordered. If all of my trees were as nice as the plum tree, I would be ordering a dozen more next season. But as it stands Stark bros has lost my business and any recommendations i would give to friends.On June 9th, 2011, Pitcom changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
I wanted to thank Stark bros for responding and addressing the issue that I had with my order. Once again, the Customer Service was top notch, and it was a pleasure to converse with them. I declined accepting a refund, as i intend to keep the trees.
After talking to the Manager, I was informed that NOT ALL varieties of the premium trees will have branches. It was explained to me that I may have received one of these varieties. It was also explained, that perhaps in the future, the website may indicate this to be the case with the premium trees. In my view, that is false advertising, when it clearly states on the website, that the trees will be well branched and professionally pruned. There is no excuse to justify trees that are sold as supreme and do not come that way. The way I see it, they sold all of their nice supreme trees, and they shipped out the ones that they had left in stock. I bought over 20 trees this spring from various vendors, and every single, plum, apricot, and apple tree had branches on them, except the Stark bros apricot trees.
I think the customer service at Stark Bros is top notch. I appreciate the time they took to try and rectify my problem. This shows me that they care about their customers. I hope the whips, and the nice plum tree I have grow well. if they do, perhaps I will try a second order with this company based on the good customer service they have shown. On Jun 9, 2011, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Jun 8, 2011 8:21 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
We do state that our "supreme" trees will be well-branched, so we take full responsibility for giving you that expectation. Your disappointment is completely understandable! : ( Our Customer Service Manager has looked into your situation personally. Humans err, and we do have people filling and packing each and every order sent to us. Since we sent you unbranched trees when you paid for well-branched ones, we take full responsibility! And we sincerely apologizing for not meeting the very expectations we gave you.
Our offer for a full refund stands, and we hope you will consider allowing us to correct our mistake in your personal situation. Your complaint has been logged, per your request, so that we may work hard to avoid this same issue in the future -- but if you would still like the full refund for your order, please let us know; we feel that is the only other option we have to rectify this situation.
Our true goal is to exceed your expectations... not fail to meet them. : (
Thank you for your review -- such honesty keeps us working hard to correct our mistakes and satisfy our customers.
Posted on May 20, 2011, updated June 7, 2011
Posted on April 11, 2011, updated May 20, 2011
I received a NICE apricot tree today. The tree is 5-ft with the most INCREDIBLE rootball. The rootball is a foot wide and and 8 inches deep. That is before the stragglier roots. The dry root raspberries have just about the same size rootball!! I have to believe these plants will do very well in a mix of sand, compost, topsoil, with starter fertilizer in a couple months. Thank you Stark Bros.
On May 20th, 2011, gracesplants added the following:
What is more positive than positive????---OUTSTANDING!!! The Harglow apricot, the Methley plum, the Starking Delicious plum and the Jaclyn raspberries are leafing out beautifully. Customer assistance is AWESOME! They have answered all my numerous questions politely, helpfully and pleasantly. Everyone who I have been in contact with has been wonderful. Again, thank you Stark Bros.On June 7th, 2011, gracesplants added the following:
Stark Bros.---you are Wonderful!! I just planted the Candy Crisp apple this morning. The tree arrived superbly boxed but the wet shredded paper that usually covers the roots had come off and left the roots dry ( I must point out that this is an anomoly, not the norm). I immediately placed the tree in a bucket of water, and, soaked it overnight. This is my testament to an EXCELLENT tree: The tree is 4.5 ft tall with 7 pruned branches and a 8-in wide by 12-in deep root system. After soaking the roots were moist and pliable. The GREAT kicker was that 22 green leaf buds sprouted in the time the tree soaked. NOW THAT IS ONE HECK OF A TREE!On Jun 7, 2011, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On May 23, 2011 10:36 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
You are so welcome! Your fruit tree selection sounds delicious! Thanks for letting us know how your plants are faring, & please feel free to contact us anytime if you ever have questions or issues. : )
On Jun 8, 2011 1:30 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company added:
Your enthusiastically sweet words were shared with our Customer Service Team, and what smiles appeared! : ) Thank you for sharing, you've brightened many people's day! We are proud & honored to have you as a customer.
On May 27, 2011, ashmeadskernel Indianapolis, IN wrote:
Stark Bro's has one of the widest selections of fruit and nut trees I have found. Unfortunately, they don't have some of the harder to find varieties I am most interested in. Cool thing about them is their website, ease of ordering and the fact they sell supplies as well. I wouldn't hesitate to buy from them again.
I started a small home fruit orchard 3 years ago, and have ordered fruit and nut trees from Stark Bros ~6 times since starting. Most of the trees I have gotten have done very well, and I have been happy with them.
While I've had a few cases where trees did not make it through our cold winters, Stark Bros. has been good to their word and have honored their 1-year warranty. So they have earned my respect and return business!
Ordered multiple peach and apple trees a few months ago. Was scared when barerooted sticks arrived, as I've had bad experiences with other companies. However, all plants are flourishing now, and within just a couple of months of leafing out, are multibranched and happy.
I'm ordering more trees from them this week - thanks Stark!! :)
Ordered 52 dwarf fruit trees in January 2011 for Mid March delivery. Trees arrived in 3 strong boxes and inside the trees were well wraped in plastic and the roots covered with damp shredded paper. The trees were well rooted and many were branched. As of April 25, 2011, 100% are sproulting nice green growth. I have to say, I'm quite impressed with their trees. It had been cold here for awhile and nothing was happening, but as the weather warmed, the trees budded and popped nice green growth. A couple of 2-n-1s even have flower buds. I will definatly buy from Stark Bros again.
Ordered one Cortland semi-dwarf apple tree last spring (2010) just to try them out--my first time ever planting trees, so I was surprised to see the whip. My husband thought I was insane, sticking what looked like a bare branch in the ground, but over the summer, it grew, and branched out, and wintered nicely. This spring (1 year from planting), it's leafed out and is healthy as can be. Don't be scared off by your whips!
Last fall, I ordered a Red Rome Beauty semi-dwarf apple tree also, since the Zestar semi-dwarf I'd tried to order in the spring was sold out. I was a little perturbed since I didn't find out until they shipped it and I would have replaced the Zestar with a different apple tree if I'd known, but the customer service rep (Brenda) said they would comp me half of the shipping cost towards my next order. So in the fall, I ordered the Rome and, sure enough, got half my shipping comped. Nicely done, guys!
The Rome hasn't leafed out yet, but I'm giving it another couple of weeks before declaring it dead. I've been in touch with Stark Bros' awesome customer service and have been assured that, if it doesn't grow, they will send a free replacement. I'll update on the situation as it develops.
Finally, this spring (2011) I ordered the strawberry patio kit/25 Everbearer strawberries, a Northcountry blueberry bush, and 3 Heritage raspberry plants. About 15/25 strawberry plants have made it and are leafing out green (the diminished number of survivors has to do with my potting technique, I think, since they were definitely all alive when they arrived), the blueberry is growing SWIFTLY and beautifully in the pot where I'm growing it, and the raspberry plants are hopefully doing their thing--can't tell anything from them yet.
To sum it up--customer service has been great and swift to respond, and the products are great too. I'm so anxious to get them all bearing, but fruit takes patience!
I just received my second order from Stark Bros, the previous order was last fall. On a whole I would have to say that their prices are somewhat "salty", especially for their "supreme" class of trees which upon examination seem to be the same size as standard trees from other nurseries. But on the other hand I suppose you get what you pay for - both orders shipped extremely fast, trees all had great root systems, the potted trees were very nice (especially the paw paw's which are often very small from other companies), and freight was free due to the size of my order. All trees from the fall and spring order are starting to bud - all in all a good experience. Thank you!
So far so good- background: Hi I am a pretty advanced Gardner and use mail order catalogs about 4-6 times a year
*first time trying Starkbros because of 2 positive Tx reviews on here
*after reading many of the horror stories decided to post a happy ending story
***Review so far: ordered from Tx zone b on 3/30/11 3 trees. Bubblegum Plum™ Dwarf, 2-N-1 Cherry Semi-Dwarf, Shiro Plum Standard
*shipped 4/4/11 and got here today 7th, which is super fast based on past experience
* Cherry tree potted, big root ball, super good graft(s) and bud action - 3 nice branches *like WAY better than what I expected... (s-because I see more than one, but then again it could just be a knot :p )
* Bubble gum - many branches, arrived dormant but obviously alive on tips and scratch root test, graft looks very good Big roots
* Shiro - is a whip, but very much alive, was very hard to find union, *which is a very good thing looks professional like done by monk-masters in japan or something* and roots very big so have hopes for this one.
*no obvious signs of mold, bad grafts, root rot or diseases, but lets face it only time will tell on diseases or bad grafts X.x
----------so far they are great!!! ordered three more trees before spring shipping closes, hope they are good as well. will be tracking progress here and on my blog.
I just received my order today, April 6th. one peach and one cherry tree. I was a little mad at 1st because my order was to be shipped
on the 4th. that would be Monday. They shipped early on the 1st.
Good that they can get orders out early, but all that means is
my trees sat in a UPS hub for the weekend before being sent.
That being said, the trees arrived in great condition. The roots on
both trees are huge! The peach tree had a lot of little branches
that were pruned very nice, the cherry only had 1 little branch but
I planted them today in not so good conditions, it was raining
but I felt like I needed to get them in the ground at once.
Didn't have time today to take photos but I will this weekend and
you can tell me what you think.
On Mar 28, 2011, badcyclist National City, CA wrote:
Posted on March 26, 2011, updated March 28, 2011
I thought for a long time whether to rate Stark Bros as neutral or negative, but decided that my experience was, on balance, negative, or at least after more than a month it still grates on me.
I bought two apple trees from Stark Bros, which promised "professional pruning" for both trees with a long explanation about how the tree would be carefully shaped for perfect form, vigorous growth and maximum fruit production.
What I got was two sad, skinny, 3' long sticks attached to small root balls. There was not even a hint of a branch anywhere on either tree. As I wrote in my note to their customer service, my dog could have pruned the tree better than their "experts," just by gnawing off anything that stuck out. These were not cheap, either-- they were $27 each, plus shipping.
Assuming that they live, which I doubt, it is going to take many years to make even a small tree out of them, and who knows how long before they can bear fruit. They are truly pathetic specimens-- they make Charlie Brown's Christmas tree look wonderful.
Stark Bros. responded to my e-mail with their stock answer that they have a one time replacement offer if my two twigs die, which I appreciate, but are they just going to send me two more pathetic little branchless sticks? That isn't very reassuring.
I strongly believe that their advertising was deceptive, and I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I have ordered fruit trees from several other mail order companies, and never been stuck with anything so pitiful or so far out of line with what was promised.
On March 28th, 2011, badcyclist added the following:
Thank you for your thoughtful and constructive response to my critical review. If I had received your response to my initial inquiry to customer service, I would have been a lot happier-- or at least I would have been reassured and at least somewhat mollified.
I went back and checked my records, and I ordered the $22 standard trees, not the supreme trees. That said, both promise professional pruning, not whips. The trees I ordered were the Cinnamon Apple and the Chenango Strawberry (the Chenango was on sale).
I am absolutely willing to see how the whips do, and I definitely appreciate that you will replace them if I am still dissatisfied within a year.
It still irritates me when I look at them, because they just are so pitiful compared to my other young apple trees. But maybe in a year, who knows? Even under the best of circumstances, however, it is going to take years before they amount to anything.
I do think that your company should be more honest in its description of what you send. If you are going to send whips instead of properly pruned trees, you should say so.
Alternatively, if I received whips when I should have received professionally pruned trees (as your website clearly promises), then I think that your customer service department should step up, admit the screw-up, and send proper replacements.
Thank you again for your helpful response-- it makes a difference to know that you are listening.On Mar 28, 2011, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Mar 28, 2011 7:50 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
It's always disheartening to read a negative review here on the Garden Watchdog, but we do appreciate you stating your honest opinion about your Stark Bro's experience. Without this kind of insight, we do not have the opportunity to correct our mistakes or make changes for better service to our customers. Sincerely: thank you.
If you have not been asked already: which 2 apple trees did you order? It's true that some trees grow more vigorously than others, but at the price you quoted, yours definitely should have been our most vigorous, well-branched & 4-5 ft. tall. i.e.- our "supreme" trees. (Most of our regular apple trees start at $22.99: http://www.starkbros.com/products/trees/apple-trees.) It is unacceptable for you to pay $27/tree and receive unbranched twigs! Your frustration is completely understandable.
And you are right, we DO state that we professionally pre-prune all of our trees before shipping. We believe this is vital to the trees' transplant survival and overall health. We fully stand behind this principle because, as a mail order nursery, we know what kind of things can both benefit and harm a tree when it's transplanted. We pre-prune every tree because our heart goal is YOUR success as a grower. These are the main reasons we pre-prune: http://growingwithstarkbros.com/?p=1843
Many of us in the office are not privy to viewing each tree before it ships, but we were fortunate enough to have an overall look at our tree crop last fall: [HYPERLINK@www.facebook.com] These photos do not represent our entire inventory, discernibly, but they are a good representation of our 2010/2011 tree crop. And now knowing you received your trees without branches, with only their main leaders, is discouraging in light of them.
There are a couple of things we can and will do for you:
1. You are privy to replacement trees whether the ones you received live, or not. See, our replacement policy covers each item 1 time, for 1 year, *for any reason.* Your dissatisfaction with the way they arrived is enough to warrant you replacements now, if you so choose. That's completely up to you.
2. Because apple trees may have different growth patterns, we would probably encourage you to allow your trees to grow 1 year-- to use most of your under-warranty time to let those roots sink in and take off. With fertilizer, you could see your trees' growth double within the year. We do understand the risks with this approach, one being lost time should the trees not grow well for you. Should at any time you decide the trees are not meeting your expectations within that year, you can simply call (800.325.4180) or email (email@example.com), and we will book replacements for you at that time.
We take pride in our business and in the success of those who grow our products (YOU). We appreciate you letting us know when we do not meet your -- and even our own -- standards for quality. Truly, we have nothing to offer if not quality products! Please let us know if you will give our trees a second try, either with immediate replacements or by waiting out the year and seeing how the trees grow. We'd like to ask for a chance to redeem our name in your mind.
I normally try to buy from local nurseries, but I could not find a source where I felt comfortable with the labeling.. I was afraid I would end up with standard as opposed to semi dwarf, etc. So, I turned to the net and after considerable planning and research I ordered 27 trees from Stark Bros... Apple, Peach, Pair, Cherry, Plum, Almond, and Paw Paw. I received the order around Feb 19th and had them in the ground the next day. Now, one month later, I have growth on all trees except for the Paw Paw (I think they will still be fine). The Almond Trees and Apple Trees where even better than I expected and the Peach, Pair, Plum, and Cherry I would rate a 8 out of 10. Most of the trees I would give a ten, but I had two that were a little smaller than I expected, but they seem to be doing great so no complaints from me. They were well packaged and arrived a couple of days ahead of schedule. I will order from them again next year.
I just received my small order of 25 strawberry plants and 3 raspberry canes. Everything was still moist, packed well with moist paper, and most of the strawberries were showing signs of sprouting already! Thank you Stark Bros! I'll update with the progress of my plants. The raspberries go in the ground tonight and I've made a bunch of hanging baskets and one patio pot of strawberries... can't wait!
Placed small order for just three Prime ARK 45 Blackberry plants...Received them in 5 days by UPS.
Plants looked good considering the time spend traveling around in a UPS truck.
The plants were severly root-bound. I did my best to separate the mess of roots prior to planting them.
I have emailed them about it to see how their customer service responds.
On Mar 8, 2011, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Mar 15, 2011 8:12 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for your feedback! Just checking in to make sure you were able to contact our Customer Service Team successfully. Please know you are always welcomed to contact us via phone, email, Facebook or Twitter. :)
Yesterday, UPS delivered a surecrop and blackgold cherry tree to my house. When it arrived I noticed one of the boxes was bent in the middle. After opening it I discovered the blackgold cherry tree was broken in half and the trunk was split below the break.Immediatly I e-mailed Starks to explain what had happened and to see what could be done about it because the tree was still plantable but about 3ft. shorter. The people at Starks got back to me within 1 hour and assured me that even though it was not there fault (they didn't bend the box in half)they would be sending me a new tree asap. By the way, both trees had large root systems and appeared to be healthy As far as I am concerned I will be ordering from them again.
The customer service is exceptionally. I ordered several trees and strawberries. The trees arrived on time almost to the estimated day in excellent condition. I ordered several cherry trees, a miniature peach, and a pear tree. All arrived in great shape minus one of the cherries had a slightly broken branch from shipping. I say branch but since they pre-prune the trees it is more like a smaller lower pruned branch as the rest is well pruned for shipping. Anyway seems no harm done. I have planted them all and will update after the growing season as to how they are doing but from the ordering experience, to the follow-up postcard a week after they arrived you can tell they take customer service very seriously. I am very pleased with them and would highly recommend them to anyone without reserve.
I recently ordered a premium dwarf golden delicious apple tree from them. It arrived quickly, the roots were wrapped well and still very moist. The tree was long, and pruned before shipping. It has a very straight shape. I just planted it recently so I don't know how it will grow yet but I would be very surprised if it wasn't a healthy tree. Also I thought their prices were reasonable and when I spoke with a customer service agent before purchasing she was very helpful. I could definitely order from them again!
I've been quite pleased with Stark Brothers. Their trees arrive in good condition and all but one has flourished for me. The one exception (a dwarf Moonglow pear) I suspect is dying of New Mexico caliche rather than a nursery problem since it had been healthy for four years after I planted it and only last year developed problems (leaf fall, failure to thrive, etc.).
My Stark Bros. orders: I have purchased Honeysweet, Moonglow & Seckel pears---and just ordered another Moonglow to replace the sickly one---plus a colonnade peach that produces wonderful full-sized "haven" type peaches on a narrow, easy to pick tree. After a year, the Stark trees have been as robust and nearly as large as local nursery trees that I've bought in pots.
I DO usually can up my bareroots for six months or so because in my climate (arid, high desert), planting trees in the fall to give them the winter to develop deeper roots seems to help them resist our very strong spring winds.
I have ordered 2 apricot, 1 peach, 3 plum , 2 Asian pears and 1 sour cherry.
All the trees grew wonderfully except the sour cherry which died and they replaced. The replacement is growing good but slow.
Two of the plums and the two Asian pears produced a good crop of juicy sweet fruit only two years after I planted them - amazing.
The white flesh peach survived a nasty winter and produced an enormous crop after heavy thinning - I gave away bags of peaches to relatives. You can't beat stark brothers fruit trees.
On Aug 29, 2010, coolmornings79 Trinity, AL wrote:
I have ordered many fruit trees from Stark Bros throughout several years. I am very pleased with the service and quality of trees they offer. While most grew well, the few trees that have been lost were promptly replaced. I plan to order more next planting season. Thanks for the great service!
On Aug 29, 2010, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Aug 31, 2010 8:32 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for the encouraging words! We're glad you hear your fruit trees are doing well, and that our replacement policy met your satisfaction. If you ever have any questions, you know how to reach us! And if it's more convenient, you can shoot us questions on our Facebook Wall, as well.
On Aug 25, 2010, dianthaharville Stanwood, WA wrote:
I'm trying to figure out how to winter mine and keep it looking nice. Any help out there????? I have mine in mostly sun and it is going crazy in a pot. I water every day it is hot and make sure it doesn't get dried out. So far it looks wonderful and is doing fantastic. For the one lady who said water once a week you need to water way more than that. Please help if anyone knows how to keep it over the winter in Stanwood, WA my house get's cold and I'm scared I'm going to loose it. It looks so wonderful now I'd hate to loose it at this point. Thanks
On Aug 25, 2010, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Aug 31, 2010 8:38 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Which tree are you growing? If it needs a warm average climate, we advise bringing the pot inside for the fall/winter. Place the pot in a sunny, indoor area, but not directly in the sunlight. (Direct sunlight through glass could hurt the tree.)
If you'd like more specific advice, our Customer Service Team would be more than happy to help you find a solution! You can reach them via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (800.325.4180) during normal business hours. "
Posted on July 27, 2010, updated July 27, 2010
Not a comment on the company. I can say that in the past (many purchases, but all over 10 years ago) Stark Brothers has been a good source and has treated me well. They even replaced one tree three times.
However, this comment relates to a previous comment concerning mixing cultivars of grapes causing them to be corrupted. This is silly nonsense. When growing grapes, one can even mix cultivars to increase pollination (just as in apples). One cultivar of grape cannot change the fruit another produces. It will only change the genetics of the seeds inside the fruit. If the seed is grown, it will not be the same as the parent, but that is irrelevant. If one orders a green seedless table grape and it grows into a purple seeded wine grape, one has received the wrong cultivar - no two ways about it.
On the other hand, viruses can be spread from plant to plant and indeed can affect the quality of the fruit, perhaps even the color and fertility somewhat. They are not going to change one kind of grape into another though. Also, wine grapes such as 'Concord' are often not even the same species of plant as many seedless table grapes, and a virus certainly is not going to change one species into another.
There are crops which cross-pollination can alter. Most any crop that is a seed will be such. Corn, Sorghum, and any other grass grains are good examples, as are some nuts from trees, and any Legume (such as peanuts, beans, peas, etc.). The seed inside the fruit is derived from genetic material from both the mother plant and the father (pollen source) plant, and thus the seed will probably show characteristics from both parents. The husk or shell that is the fruit surrounding the seed will not be affected though (except perhaps the size and shape due to the seeds inside), but in these cases that is not the part we are using. Nearly all fruit are derived from the mother plant, and the pollen plant has no affect on the makeup of the fruit. The fruit formed before the enclosed ovules were even pollinated. There are rare cases where a fruit-like structure is derived from the developing seed, but this doesn't apply to grapes.
On July 27th, 2010, grusonia added the following:
A further thought, that relates to the guarantee. A year is not enough time to tell if you've gotten the correct cultivar in many cases. Many fruit do not produce for three or four years, and if the wrong plant was sent, it seems like the company should stand behind it, even several years down the road when the mistake becomes apparent (Stark certainly used to). However, I think a year is plenty of time to judge whether a plant is healthy and can grow well.On Jul 27, 2010, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Aug 9, 2010 1:19 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thanks for taking the time to share your input on the subject of mixed cultivators! Our Greenhouse Manager made the following comments, in addition to your own:
"Not all legumes outcross (require an outside pollinator), and our two favorites (soybeans and peanuts) are good examples. With soybeans, they are receptive to outside pollen during the day, and if no pollination event occurs, then they self-pollinate as the flowers close. Peanuts are only self-pollinated.
... In flowering plants, fruit initiation depends on seed set, suggesting some fertilization-dependent seed and pollen-derived signals that are required for both fruit initiation and later development. For example, we know that fruit shape, form, and growth are modified by differences in the genetic composition of seeds and even the number of seeds (increased # of pollination events, so greater signal to female plant). It should also be noted that various phytohormones (ones the plants make themselves) are required for proper development of both fruit and seeds, and since both developing seeds and pollen contain these hormones, there's some interaction going on there between the two.
It is true that if you plant a Flame Seedless Grape next to another seeded variety, one will not become the other through outcrossing events. If the seedless happens to suddenly start bearing seeded fruit, then what you're seeing is most likely a mutant (and aggressive) part of the plant that out-competed the seedless parts.
Generally speaking though, it works like this with outcrossing plants: pollen parent is crossed with ovule (egg) parent to produce lots and lots of seeds within the fruits. Lots of variability here with the seeds, but there's essentially no variability in the fruit either parent produces. The variability produced from sexual reproduction won't be seen until you assess that variation in the seed population (called F1 generation) and so on..."
Regarding Stark Bro's one-year Promise of Satisfaction: we absolutely take responsibility for and will replace anything that, based on our shipping error, does not grow true to variety. If we shipped the wrong plant and it takes 2-3 years to determine the fruit, we will replace that plant when it begins to bear (the wrong) fruit. We do stand behind our products, but more importantly, we promise to get you the product you paid for - or you won't pay. : )
Please let us know if you have any other specific questions regarding any of our policies (or products)! Our Customer Service Team can be reached via email (email@example.com) or phone (800.325.4180) during normal business hours."
I have purchased from Stark Bros. quite a few times. The only thing I have been disappointed in was the grapes. I ordered all the different varieties of seedless grapes they offered and EVERY single one of them turned out to be regular concord grapes. I contacted them and they tried to tell me that they got seeds because I planted them too close to a seeded variety. They sent me a 1 time replacement which I have my doubts about. I probably will end up with seeded concords...again. I won't buy from them again if I can't be sure that I am actually getting the cultivars I pay for...so now after 4 years wasted growing their grapes I am again searching for seedless grapes.
On Jun 25, 2010, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Jun 28, 2010 8:30 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for posting about your experience with our seedless grapes. Your frustration is very understandable! If we went to the grocery store and purchased any seedless variety of fruit, we would expect to get home and enjoy the fruit without the hassle of seeds - it's what we paid to enjoy! Anything less would warrant disappointment and probably a trip back to the grocer.
Since you are a fellow fruit grower, you know the difficulties (and rewards) that come from "growing your own." Those of us who set out to cultivate the fruits of our own labor, are the same people who deal with plant diseases, harmful pests, critters, Mother Nature's whims, etc. There's no easy grocery shopping for us! There is a viral disease that spreads from black raspberries to any other color raspberry, if planted within 75 ft. of the other berries. It is also true that a seeded variety of grape will corrupt any seed-less variety, if planted within too close in proximity. While this is not the only way or reason that seedless grapes develop seeds, it is probably the most common. Stark Bro's promises to deliver not only the plant(s) purchased, but also the quality expected... and we are very sorry to know that your grapes did not meet your expectations!
For the multitude of reasons that make fruit-growing so precarious, we offer our Promise of Satisfaction: if for any reason what you receive does not meet your complete satisfaction - be it the fault of Stark's cultivation, shipping, Mother Nature, etc. - we will reship anything, one time and free of charge, within a year of the original purchase. Please keep us updated and informed on your replacement grapes! We are, with you, hoping for the best; but if there are any consistent issues with the types of grapes you receive, we covet your input and feedback. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 800.325.4180. We aim to always satisfy our customers by providing them with the quality they should expect! "
On Jun 14, 2010, mellen1954 New Providence, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:
I had ordered and received a Henry Lauder's Walking Stick from Starks late last spring. It did not survive the winter. I e-mailed them about this, and they sent a replacement for it right away as it was within a year of the order. The plant that I received was even NICER than the original one. I am very happy with this company and will continue to order from them. Thanks a BUNCH, Starks!
On Jun 14, 2010, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Aug 9, 2010 1:26 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
I ordered 3 dwarf apple trees this year from Stark. They arrived last week in good condition. A bit smaller than I had hoped, but the price was right and the selection was great. I can't wait to see how they do!
On Jun 1, 2010, wmcclelion Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:
Ordered 2 dwarf pink ladys, 1 dwarf granny smith, and a dwarf Carolina Belle peach. All four trees arrived about 2 weeks later. (I had modified the order once and that pushed the ship date back a bit). All four trees were larger than I had expected. From root to tip they were about 5 feet long. There were chalk marks to indicate planting depth. I am a week out from planting and they all have leaves and are looking very good.
On May 26, 2010, MorsisX Lockport, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:
Ordered a pair of Stark Crimson Spire apples a few years ago. Both are doing quite well, including blooming the spring they arrived. Am please with the ease of ordering, the customer service when I had an issue and the quality of the product.