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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 email@example.com 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.
On May 23, 2010, SoutheastIndy Indianapolis, IN wrote:
I made my first order from Stark Brothers and was amazed at the 100 Eversweet Strawberry Plants they sent. I've ordered several strawberry plants from different nurseries but nothing can compare to the plants they sent me. I received them on a Friday evening and planted them Saturday morning. By Sunday evening several were sprouting already. I was a little nervous ordering them so late in the season. I will without a doubt buy more strawberry plants from them in the future.
Posted on April 28, 2010, updated May 8, 2010
Posted on March 16, 2010, updated April 28, 2010
After 40 years of dealing with this company, I continue to be amased by the quality of plants offered. My 4 apple trees that just arrived were large which I am use to getting from them, but the root system on them this year was perfect. In my 40 years of gardening and growing produce I have never seen better. My farm has more than 80 different fruit trees from them, some put in the ground 40 years ago and they continue to supply us with fresh apples, cherries, pears, and peaches. Great people to deal with, and the quality of their products speaks volumnes.
On April 28th, 2010, rtucker607 added the following:
Second order of the season (7 apple trees) arrived and once again I was impressed with both the size of the trees and the size of the root balls. A special thanks to Sharon for helping me with my third order. I wish every place had someone like her as she took the time to see that my needs were met. She was most kind and knowledgeable. The best of the best!!On May 8th, 2010, rtucker607 added the following:
My third order arrived and as always showed that someone took great care in packing my order. Some of the root systems were so large but instead of cropping them as many places would have done to make shipping easy on them, someone took the time to wrap some of the longest roots around the plants so that I got plants with long roots as if they had just come out of huge pots. I must say that I was not expecting plants of this quality not that they have not always provided me with top quality plants but this was a late season order as I saw the sale prices and could not resist. I expected that as a late season sale, plants would be on the small side as most of the top quality plants would have already been shipped. I was ready to deal with it as again the prices were just too good to let them pass me by. These plants however, are in no way seconds. They are all top grade plants and the potted blackberries are giants compared to plants I have received from others. Once again a special thanks to their staff in the office for taking the time to help me over the phone with my order.
On May 6, 2010, bjplack Benton County, AR (Zone 6b) wrote:
4/26 - ordered a Snow Fountains Weeping Cherry Tree by phone. Very curtious, and knowledgeable. I love that I was able to track my order. Recieved my 4.5 ft. tree on 5/6. Had 4 weeping branches full of buds. I can't say enough about how well this transaction went from beginning to end.
Posted on April 12, 2010, updated May 3, 2010
I placed my first order with Stark Bro's over 15 years ago. Sadly, the following described experience has been the most frustrating I can remember ever having with any company.
Placed order on March 13.
Order confirmation showed the scheduled ship date as on or around March 23rd.
Order confirmation was missing two lines of address information that I had entered when I placed the order (business name, and address line 2).
I notified Stark Bro’s of the address omission problem on March 18th and was told that it had been updated and that “The order should reach your address safely”.
Six days after the delivery date I saw that my order had not yet shipped.
On the morning of March 29 I contacted Stark Bro’s to ask why the order still showed a ship date of March 23 but had not yet shipped. I also asked for a revised shipping date.
No reply, but on the morning of March 30 I saw online that the order status had changed to “processing” and showed as shipped by the US Postal Service with no tracking number or actual ship date available.
On the evening of March 30 I received a reply to my email of the previous morning stating that the order had been sent to packing. No reason for the delay was given, nor was any reason given for why the order was shown as having shipped via USPS without any tracking when I had paid for UPS with tracking.
After having kept my eye out for the package in the mail all week, on April 2nd I received an email from Stark Bro’s stating that the order had shipped on April 1st via UPS and a tracking number was provided.
Upon looking up the UPS tracking number I saw that an attempt had been made to deliver the order that day, however the delivery address was incomplete.
The delivery address on the package was missing the information I had notified Stark Bro’s about and that I had been assured had been resolved two weeks prior.
After several hours on the phone with Stark Bro’s and UPS I managed to get the delivery driver to make another attempt to deliver the order at my location despite the absence of the two address fields that I had typed in when placing the order. The package finally arrived Friday night in a crushed box.
The trees were broken in half.
On Monday April 5, I emailed Stark Bro’s regarding the extensive problems with the loss of address information, unexplained delay and inaccurate shipping information, and the condition of the trees when they arrived.
I received no response until the afternoon of Friday April 9th. The response thanked me for identifying the multiple problems noted above and wished me success with my planting.
On May 3rd, 2010, BrendaWalters changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Revising from Negative to Neutral. Several weeks after I posted my review, Stark Bros contacted me and asked if I was satisfied. Obviously I was not satisfied with the shipping process, the lack of information, and the broken trees. I was told I should expect a refund of my shipping costs in about a week. The following weekend I received a letter stating that a replacement order (that I did not request) would be sent to me. The following week the replacement order was delivered to my building, but the address label was still missing the information required to get it to me. Luckily a coworker saw it on his way out of the building and brought it inside and up to my office before it disappeared. I am still amazed that their shipping system accepts critical address fields but then doesn't use them in printing the shipping labels. That is still an ongoing problem for anyone who is not at a single line residential address. Another week after that, my shipping fees were refunded. Because of the refund of shipping fees and the duplicate of my original order, I no longer feel justified in listing a negative review.On May 3, 2010, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Apr 20, 2010 12:02 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
We are very sorry about your shipping experience. Because we are always looking for ways to better serve you, we really appreciate all feedback and suggestions sent to us. All issues and suggestions are passed along to upper management for consideration and review.
Every single order that we ship is covered by our Promise of Satisfaction: if for any reason you are not 100% satisfied with your experience with Stark Bro's, within a year of shipment we will issue you free replacements or a full refund for the merchandise amount. We care very much about your growing success! Please contact our Customer Support Team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 800.325.4180, and we will stand by our guarantee."
On May 2, 2010, Dawn76 Huntington, WV (Zone 7a) wrote:
I have had no problems with my orders from here. The last two:
Ordered a nice flame grape last spring ( 2009) and it was big and healthy on arrival. It climbed to the top of the pergola before winter. Now it's spreading nicely (by May 1).
This spring I ordered three roses and the arrival was timely. The packaging was sturdy--pots encased in plastic baggies tightly wrapped over the dirt, the bagged pots put inside sturdy cardboard inner boxes and then a shipping box. All were very moist upon arrival.
Plant size was what you'd expect from a 4 inch pot, and root system was fine on 2 of the 3. The 3rd was a bit undersized, but it seems healthy. Got them in the ground already in time for a good rain.
Posted on October 14, 2009, updated May 1, 2010
I have now ordered from them 4 times (waiting for the 4th to come) and all 3 times I have been pleased.
I ordered and planted some bare root fruit trees last spring along with 2 weeping cherry trees. 4 of the 5 are doing great and the 5th one is doing ok (just a little behind the others). I think it is more a product of drainage and not the quality from Starks.
I just received some blueberry plants and they look very healthy and were packaged extremely well.
I am very happy with their service and will order from them again.
On May 1st, 2010, RNorris added the following:
I want to add this .. I ordered a plum and almond tree late last year. They both arrived and the almond tree's roots had been damaged in shipping ... the box was pretty beat up. I put both in the grund and then called Stark to ask about a replacement. They said we could do it now or wait till spring. I opted for now and the lady told me to just leave the other one in the ground and see what happens. They shipped the replacement which was a very nice tree and I planted it. All three (the plum, the damaged almond and the replacement) are doing great.
I am originally from Wenatchee, Washington The 'Apple Capitol" of the United States. I know how to judge if an apple tree was well grown. I have a home orchard, and over 40 years of experience receiving and planting apple trees.
I recently ordered ONE apple tree from Stark Brothers -- the Company that heavily promotes its "legacy" of apple growing. I was shocked, and thoroughly disgusted by the POOR quality tree I received.
The tree had a root system which was so small, I doubt if this tree will survive, no matter how well it is taken care of. The longest piece of root is about FOUR inches long. the entire root mass of this $31.00 tree could fit into a two cup measuring cup!
This was supposed to be a "2 N 1"apple tree, with two different varities growing on the same root stock. What I received shows no indication of having an additional variety grafted onto the tree.
Additionally, the package was very poorly prepared for shipping. The single small tree was put into a plastic bag with no packing material and slopped into a huge cardboard box. There was nothing to prevent this tree from being slammed around inside the box.
All in all, this was THE poorest tree and the POOREST packing job I have ever seen in 40 years of growing apple trees.
I do not know how a Company that offers this incredibly POOR quality of product can stay in business!
On Apr 27, 2010, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On May 6, 2010 3:47 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
We are very sorry to hear about the condition in which you received your 2-N-1 apple tree! From the way you described your experience, we completely understand why you feel dissatisfied. We pride ourselves on satisfying customers with quality trees, and our Promise of Satisfaction guarantees any products you receive from us up to one year from shipment. Please contact our Customer Support Team at email@example.com, or by phone at 800.325.4180, and we will freely ship you another 2-N-1 apple tree to replace the original. At Stark Bro's, we strive to satisfy our customers with the highest quality trees and plants, and we will do everything we can to see that you receive one that meets your expectations!"
On Apr 22, 2010, SPIDERPAPA Cambridge Springs, PA wrote:
I purchased 3 apple trees and one cherry last year and was very happy with everything. My trees grew very well while a friends trees from a home improvement store died. Additionately one of the apple trees was run over by a pickup truck. This tree is the first one to bud this year and still doing very well. I'm wondering if I should run over the rest of them but we sold that truck. Due to this very good experience I purchased 3 more trees and 5 grape vines this year. When they got here they looked even better than the ones we got last year. I'm especially pleased with the grape vines.
On Apr 21, 2010, pixie62560 South China, ME (Zone 5a) wrote:
I ordered from Stark Brothers for the first time this year. The order came yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised!
I ordered 5 Apple tree's , 2 Pear tree's, 2 Blueberry Bushes and 3 raspberry bushes.
Four out of 5 of the apple tree's were good sized and had great roots. One was smaller and less of a root system, we will watch this one closely.
The blueberry bushes were not very big for the money but healthy and good roots also. Both Pear tree's look good, nice roots and little to no damage to any branches in shipping on all of the tree's.
I can't comment on the raspberries as i've never bought bareroot bushes before, but they look fine to my untrained eye.
On Apr 19, 2010, oldfarmer426 Booneville, AR wrote:
March 17 I ordered 10 grapevines from Stark Bros. nursery. One and one half weeks later they arrived. They were exactly as advertised. Healthy, robust 2 yr. old plants. They all are leaved out now and looking good. I recommend Stark and will order from them again.
On Apr 19, 2010, blackiec Colorado Springs, CO wrote:
I have a Stark Blushing Golden apple tree that has never flowered or fruited in the seven years I have had it with six different blooming apples close by. It has also developed a very unusual gall- like enlargement where the topstock is grafted. It was determined this is a graft defect and or crown gall, and no fault of my own. Since stark changed ownership however they refused to help me even in any way, though I have both their tree tag, and proof of purchase. I am removing the defective tree
Many companies will work in good faith to help customers if a tree is defective or not true to name. STARK Bros. did not. If anyone gets a tree from them that turns out to be defective after their first growing season BEWARE that they may not stand behind their products. I was NOT asking or expecting a free tree, but an ounce of empathy, and maybe an offer to perhaps share some in a replacement would go a long way to avoid having to write this most unpleasant note. This is not a way to keep or get new customers.
Colorado Springs, CO
On Apr 19, 2010, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Apr 21, 2010 9:33 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Stark Bro's stands behind our products, but more importantly, we stand behind our customers. We understand that planting and growing successfully is dependent upon many different factors, some of which are out of anyone's control. In light of this, we have a Promise of Satisfaction for all of our customers regarding every order: if for any reason you are not 100% satisfied with your products or your experience with Stark Bro's, we will send you one-time free replacements or issue a full refund within a year of shipment.
We are very sorry to have lost your trust! It is true that Stark Bro's is under new ownership as of 2002. We firmly stand behind our guarantee for all orders placed under our new ownership. For orders placed with Stark Bro's prior to 2002, we promise to review each individual case when presented with the appropriate documentation. We encourage any customers who have issues with their products (purchased prior to 2002) to send us a copy of their proof of purchase, along with any other documentation they may have (i.e. - tags, pictures, etc.). All pictures of abnormal growths, deformities or diseases are reviewed by our Product Specialist for professional advice, and all of these concerns are reviewed on an individual, personal basis by upper management. Please feel free to send the documentation you have to our office! You can mail it to:
Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards
PO BOX 1800
On Apr 14, 2010, englishvintner Concord, NC wrote:
My order with them has been pretty good. I tried to order once over the phone and the credit card did not go through, though I was not notified until 4 days later.
I tried again and it seems to be doing fine. My order finally shipped and I can track it.
The one thing that got me was that I ordered right before the free shipping deal, even though mine was shipped after they sent out the sale.
Another thing is that the red and black raspberry together sale is not any better than buying Heritage and Bristol seperate. In fact, you save about $5 buying a package of heritage and bristol than buying the package together deal they give you. What's up with that Stark Bros?
I will post again if my order was bad.
On Apr 14, 2010, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Apr 23, 2010 2:57 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thanks for your review! In regards to the assortment of raspberries, we had a pricing glitch that was corrected on our http://www.starkbros.com website, and everything should reflect the same sale prices now! If you have not already, please feel free to contact our Customer Service department at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800.325.4180, and we will resolve your pricing difference right away."
I've been oredering fruit trees from Stark Bros for over 8 years. They are by far and away the best mail order company for fruit trees period. They are always my main source for buying stock period. I've ordered from about every company out there and no one else compares as far as selection and quality of plants received.
Plant arrived with a dime sized hole in bark down to central core. Also, root stock was like a carrot with NO side roots.
Called Stark Bro's - they claimed thats how the trees roots are supposed to be. ( I think not). Also said the hole was caused by insect damage.
On the positive side they did offer to replace tree but I would have to pay shipping costs again ! They should have inspected the tree before being sent.
On Mar 26, 2010, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Mar 29, 2010 10:21 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for sharing your honest experience with Stark Bros. We apologize for the condition of the tree you received - it is true that sometimes insects can get into the packing and damage the leads. We try to offer the highest quality plants to our customers but understand that dealing with green goods can be very tricky. This is why we cover your purchases with our one-year Guarantee. We want to make your growing experience the best it can be!
Our Promise of Satisfaction here at Stark Bros states that if for any reason you are not completely satisfied with your order, within one year of shipment we will: refund you the full merchandise amount or will send you a one-time free replacement. That includes free shipping!
If you would still like your black walnut replaced, please feel free to email us at email@example.com or call our Customer Support Team at 800.325.4180.
As I look at all these positive reviews, I am so sad to write a bad one. Last may I ordered a Canadice seedless grapevine, Typar tree circles, and a 2-N-1 classic pie semi-dwarf apple tree after I was referred to by another customer. I got the typar tree circles along with the Stark growing guide, but I have never received to this date my apple tree and grapevine. Rather than call and see what the matter was, I looked at other websites to see if they have better and cheaper stuff. So, last week on Thursday I ordered 3 trees, 2 grapevines, and 1 banana plant from Willis Orchard, I received my trees today. They were nice and healthy and significantly cheaper than the 2 plants I ordered from Stark Bro's. I am sad to write this review, as so many other customers had better experiences with this company, but I think people would want to think a 2nd time before they order more pricey plants from this company. Good thing they only charge the credit card when they ship.
On Feb 24, 2010, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Apr 7, 2010 5:00 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
We are sorry you were dissatisfied with your experience with Stark Bro's! There are several possible reasons why you never received your grape and apple tree. Our Customer Support Team is here to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding your order last Spring, and we extend our hours during our shipping seasons so that every concern or complaint can be quickly and satisfactorily addressed. We strive very hard to please our customers and give them the best growing experience possible. We would be happy to address your issues from last year if you would like to inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 800.325.4180."
On Jan 20, 2010, flowers4birds Chilton, WI (Zone 5b) wrote:
We have bought nursery stock from Stark Bros. for at least 30 years. We've grown all the fruit that is hardy here in Zone 5a and tried some that are not. They of course did not flourish. We can't help experimenting though, because that is part of the fun of gardening. But be advised to take the hardiness zones listed in Starks Catalogue with a large grain of salt. Look around at what your neighbors grow and check with your local Master Gardeners, go to local orchards and see what your local Farmer's Marketers are growing. That is how to find out what will grow in your garden.
Our only problem with Starks is that they list plants for hardiness zones where they are will never bear fruit. Also many plants labeled as hardy in Zone 5 will not thrive here in the northern part of Zone 5. So a few things listed as Zone 5 hardy die back. Examples are the Chester Thornless Blackberry which dies back to the ground every winter and has never had a berry on it. The vines unfortunately are incredibly vigorous and are spreading wildly. They grow six feet tall every summer and die back completely to the ground every winter. If you live in our climate, get Prime Jim and Prime Jan Blackberries that bear on first year canes. But Only half of them get ripe before they freeze in the fall.
Well we figured we'd be safe only ordering trees for Zone 4, but not so. Their Reliance Peach and Intrepid Peach died the same winter they got old enough to bear fruit. Apricots? Forget it. They never fruit. The trees are hardier than peaches, and never die, but the flowers always freeze this far north as they bloom at least two weeks before our last killing frost. We got some apricots once in the last 35 years. By then we'd given up wasting spray on them, so they were wormy.
We bought a Pawpaw that they list as zone 4 hardy. It's not! It dies to the ground every single winter, even in mild winters, and gets six feet high again the next summer. It's at least 15 years old now and still trying.
American Persimmon fared even worse, and didn't even make it through the first winter. Hardy Kiwi? Nope; not hardy. The Carpathian Walnuts we bought are now great big shade trees. During the 25 years they've been growing we got 2 walnuts. The problem again is not the hardiness of the trees, but that the flowers always freeze.
I have no complaint about the products that really are hardy. We have wonderful apples and pears that have proven their quality. Everything we buy grows the first year, but you have to wait until the next spring to find out if they are really hardy.
This year is the first time I ordered from Starks on-line. It was a nightmare! I don't know if the problem was at their end or mine, though we have a slow dialup on a rural telephone line, but I have never had this problem ordering on-line from other businesses. It took me about an hour to check out. First it took about 20 minutes just to bring up the checkout page, Then they informed me I had to set up an account to order on-line because I don't have a clue what our customer number is or where to find it, and they don't tell you which number of the many numbers on your catalogue it is, or maybe it isn't there. I don't know where to find it. Apparently I made a typo on my repeat password entry, because nothing happened when I tried to continue. But they don't tell you what the problem is. Finally I simply re-entered everything and tried again. Their program changed the last four number of our zip-code and there was no way to correct it, unless I would start the entire checkout process again and waste another half hour. Since they ship UPS, hopefully they can find our place with only the first five zip-code numbers.
My warning to customers is that if you are on a slow dialup system, you are better off to get a catalogue and send in a paper order by snail mail. It will save you a lot of time. If the slow response is at their end however, something needs to be fixed.
I ordered a variety of fruit trees from Stark Bros. in 1985, planted them in the fall in Montclair CA. very carefully and well (huge holes, lots of good soil, etc.). The trees were amazing! Six feet of growth on the plum the first year. Peach blossoms the next spring! The trees were two years old and going strong when I sold the place (full price, the buyer wanted those trees!). A drive by ten years later confirmed all are alive.
I ordered again in 2002, only four dwarf trees. I planted them carefully, but late, ten days after receipt, in the fall, in Sylmar, CA. The Asian pear and a peach dried up, but the 2in1 plum, and Nectarine took off like mad. Both bore fruit their second year. Four years later the Nectarine is l2 feet tall, as thick as my arm, and bears wonderful fruit heavily. The Plum is OK, putting on a dozen fruits of both varieties. Its 9 ft tall, and a couple inches thick.
I ordered again in 2009, three cherries, five peaches, an apricot, also nuts: Hickory, Butternut and Chestnut all ordered and delivered in mid spring. The planting this time in Northeast Pennsylvania was not so well done this time: because of less time and more trees... smaller holes, also stony, wettish soil. All the trees are doing well. In spite of Japanese Beetles and pruning by deer, all but the Hickory trees have a couple of feet of good growth.
I'm ordering again (I still need plums, apples, pears, paw paw, pecans.... Stark has varieties and improvements on varieties that are unique. Yeah, I've looked/ordered some stuff elsewhere, too, but Stark is#1 in my book. Their little trees make up for their size by excellent growth right out of the box.
On Aug 27, 2009, JamieCatheryn Louisville, KY wrote:
I have bought from Stark Bros twice. First, I bought 2 great apple trees and had a perfectly smooth transaction, the only negative was they shipped quicker than I expected and I ended up planting trees before I planned to, hardly a negative really. That was last year, and they are doing very well this year despite a run in with rust disease picked up from a neighbor's cedar (I treated them organically and they bounced back fine).
The second purchase, I got a few blackberry plants and several currant bushes. The currant bushes never recovered from shipping, but customer service kindly and quickly refunded my money when I called in after waiting 7 weeks for them to leave dormancy. The blackberry canes are growing quite well. A great transaction there too, all told.
On Aug 12, 2009, willowwind Moundridge, KS (Zone 6a) wrote:
I ordered several things from this company last spring including strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus and cherry trees. My order arrived in a timely manner and everything was planted. Everything except the asparagus did quite well and I couldn't fault the company for the asparagus as I planted it in a trench, as directed, then we proceded to have 3-4 weeks of solid rain, and they just sat in it. We have continued to have a rainy summer and one of my cherry trees started loosing leaves and then slowly died. When I called the company they were very nice to talk to, said I might want to check the drainage and that they would replace the tree for me with fall shipping. I am very pleased with this company and will definitely order again.
Being from the South I could never emphasize enough how fanatical we Southerners are about Peaches. I have been married to a Georgia Peach for 27 years. When I looked at http://www.starkbros.com and saw all the varieties of Peach Trees they offered I quickly began filling my shopping cart with Blushing Star Peach Trees and the Stark special hybrid Saturn Peach Tree and a few Blackberry Bushes. I bought a few peach trees from a local nursery also and planted them close to my Authentic, Hybrid, Saturn and Blushing Star Peach trees so that I could more easily keep them sprayed as my local nursery had instructed. I watered and trimmed all trees the same, keeping a close watch for the growth buds that Stark Bro's Nursery promised would be popping open any time and that was back in mid April! Now I have 3 peach trees from my local nursery that are lush and green and 5 brown twigs from Stark Bro's Nursery. I should have known when Starks would not advise me about how to spray my Saturn and blushing Star Peach Trees that my local nursery was right and I should have bought locally. I will NEVER make that mistake again!
On Jun 3, 2009, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Apr 7, 2010 3:37 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for letting us know of your disappointment with our peach trees, we are very sorry to hear they did not meet your expectations! All of our fruit trees are two years old when we ship them, coming to you on average 3-4 ft. tall. The trees may look like sticks (especially if they've been pre-pruned) and that is mostly due to their young age. The strength and quality of our trees is in the root system. It's from there that the tree tops will grow and mature.
It's been about a year: are you satisfied with the growth of your peach trees? If not, please notify us and we will gladly send you free replacements. We want your peach harvest to be abundant and your growing experience, exceptional! Our Product Specialist can assist in any spraying information you may need. For replacements on your peach trees, or for any inquiries, comments or critiques, you can contact our Customer Support Team at email@example.com or by phone at 800.325.4180. Your satisfaction is important to us!"
So far, so good! I ordered 5 different "2-in-1" fruit trees, 50 strawberries, and a couple of blueberries that arrived earlier this month, all well packed. All of the strawberries, and four of the five trees (apple, sweet cherry, pear, plum) have been fabulous from the start, and now are growing beautifully.
I was a little concerned about the blueberries early on (they're quite small) because it looked like they were beginning to brown at the tips, but after a few days, I saw new shoots starting, and after snipping off those brown tips, both blueberries seem fine and are making new leaves.
The one issue that remains is the asian pear tree, which is not leafing out as the others have. I called Stark, and they told me it's a little late in the season to ship out a replacement now, but that they'll automatically send me a new one in September when they start fall shipping. They also said that the tree might just be a little late getting going, and to leave it alone and see what happens, and to call them to cancel the new one if this one does decide to take off. Customer Service was very friendly, and I'm happy with that arrangement. Now I'll just wait and see what happens!
On May 20, 2009, nygardener2 New Hyde Park, NY wrote:
The company is great with shipping and replacements. The only problem is they run out of stock fast(even when order is placed early) they don't hold your inventory they will let you know. I love them! otherwise their stock is first rate. Items ship fast. The service is also great.
Last summer I ordered 3 fruit trees and some raspberries, with a stated delivery time of early November. This is a bit late for our area, but I hoped that the weather would cooperate once the trees got here. The trees arrived late in November, and were planted promptly. The berries did not arrive, and a December shipping date was given. That is just not realistic at all, so I asked them to change the shipping date to spring. Although I had checked the packing slip when the trees arrived, this spring I checked the tags on the trees themselves. Instead of 2 pears, I had a pear and a cherry. When I notified the company, they did not want to replace the cherry, stating that it could just have the wrong tag. I insisted that I didn't want to lose a growing season and that any error was theirs, so they somewhat grudgingly agreed to send another tree. All trees are doing well, and it does appear that the "cherry" is actually a cherry. The raspberries arrived at an appropriate time this spring and are growing.
All plants arrived healthy. Packing had little material around roots, and it shook loose during shipping. Shipping times need to be more in tune to the growing area. Previous experiences with Stark's have been very good, but this was more trouble than it needed to be.
On May 18, 2009, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Apr 7, 2010 3:17 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
We apologize for the unmet expectations you experienced! Shipping green goods - items that are specifically dependent upon weather conditions all across the United States - can be a very difficult thing to do. We currently ship orders based on your USDA-approved Hardiness Zone. This zone is determined by the zip code found on your shipping address. The Hardiness Zone Map itself is based off of years of observing the typical weather patterns across the United States - but as we all know, Mother Nature does not limit herself to our 'maps.' This past winter was long and harsh for many southern states, some areas seeing snow for the first time! Because this was such a large weather pattern across the United States, we delayed our shipping by 2 weeks to those areas. In more obscure cases, we depend on you, our customers, to notify us of any unusual or out-of-season weather that is affecting your area. We offer special shipment options if necessary to ensure that your green goods arrive when you can plant them!
You are right in expecting us to correct any errors that we make regarding your order, and you shouldn't have to lose any growing time for our mistakes! We are striving to meet those expectations as best (and quickly) as we can. Should you have any other issues or comments that you would like to share with us, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800.325.4180. "
I ordered 8 fruit trees from Stark on 4/27 and received the trees on 5/6. I was excited to receive the trees so soon, but I really didn't have anywhere to put them until I could plant them. I ordered semi-dwarf apple trees sept. fuji, granny smith, golden delicious, and prarie spy, montmorency and starkrimson cherry trees, a methley plum, and a july elberta peach. Of the eight, six have lots of green already (after being in the ground only 5 days). The other two were not branched when I received them and are slow to green up.
Overall, I am very pleased with the condition of the trees and roots. I actually received a supreme tree package, although I ordered no supreme trees. That was pleasing because I was curious about the bark protector but was unwilling to spend the money on them just yet.
I am a novice in the garden and have NEVER planted bare root trees before. The information manual stark sent was helpful, although I wish they would send one with more detailed information on pruning! I plan to expand my garden with berries next year and I will definately be looking at stark's offerings before purchasing.
On May 13, 2009, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Mar 16, 2010 4:09 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
We're creating new planting and pruning guides designed for both new and experienced gardeners.
As a novice, what information would you like to see in a pruning guide? Where do you get the information you need now?
If we offered plant care email alerts timed specifically to your trees, would that be meaningful?
I do business with this company because they stand behind their stock and all claims about it--no muss, no fuss. They can't offer the highly personalized service that some of their smaller counterparts do, but they're a fine source of mainline nursery stock. Good prices, dependable.
On Apr 30, 2009, CO_Gardener Broomfield, CO wrote:
Positive with a tiny complaint...I am new to grape growing but after compiling a list of preferred varieties, I searched here and then searched reputable websites to order. I decided to order from Stark Bros because they had more varieties listed in stock and their overall price was better, when including shipping. When I finally received a shipping confirmation, part of my order had been canceled due to stocking issues. I feel that an email notification of this, prior to shipment, would have allowed me to add something else in place of what was no longer in stock. However, my order was half way here when the shipment notification was sent. Besides that, the plants seem strong and healthy, with strong roots on all the plants I received. If these plants do well and Stark Bros sends me a substantial discount offer for next year, I'll order the rest of my original order. If not, I'll order from someone else (earlier) and pay more.
I ordered three thornless boysenberries, three thornless blackberries, and a peach tree. All of them came in a timely manner and in very good condition. I would like to thank the Stark Bro's company for providing timely service and great plants. I just received them, so I haven't planted them yet, but I'm sure they will do very well. I have had so much trouble with shoddy plant sites that have delivered half dead plants after months of waiting, so it is so nice to do business with Stark Bro's. I highly recommend this company!
On September 30th, 2009, madampolo added the following:
My berry plants and my one peach tree all died. I think the weather was just too hot for them, and I should have provided some shade. They were watered regularly. I forgot about these dead plants. To my great surprise, the Stark Bro company called me to find out how my plants were doing. I was shocked that they actually called. When I told them none at survived, they said I'm sending you replacement plants right now. These plants came, and they look beautiful. I have another chance at growing them, and I am so grateful to this company.
On Feb 11, 2009, mersiepoo New Freeport, PA wrote:
Last year was the first time I ordered from them. I was very happy with the quality of the plants and their sizes. The mulberry tree was really large and even got a mulberry on it that same year! The sweet heart apricot is still alive and kicking, nice sized plant as well. I also got a great deal on a concord grape for about $ 3. 59, and it was very large and put on healthy new growth despite our drought last year. Also pleased with the sour cherry tree. I just ordered again this year! Also, they ship via UPS which is good, because UPS is so easy to deal with.
On Feb 7, 2009, DennInMI Manistee, MI (Zone 4b) wrote:
Just a comment about their website shopping experience. Stark Brothers DEFINITELY needs to add a mechanism to retrieve a forgotten password on their website. It's simply not possible, and it requires a call to customer service to do so. Almost every company out there on the web that has login information has a simple mechanism to e-mail forgotten log-in info to your e-mail address within seconds. Stark Brothers should seriously consider updating their website to allow this, since it would save everyone time and trouble.
IF you forget your log-in information, you CANNOT order again until you retrieve the information via a phone call.
I haven't had major problems with their products, and order quite often from them. Just wanted to post this to encourage them to make their website more user-friendly.
On Feb 7, 2009, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Apr 7, 2010 2:19 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
To all of our customers who made us aware of the changes you wished to see on our website - thank you for telling us how we could make your online shopping experience better! We do listen to your suggestions and have made some changes based on your advice:
1. We have included an automatic email retrieval of password information that no longer requires a call to our Customer Support Team.
2. The checkout process has been modified and updated to be quicker and more self-explanitoy.
3. You can now search for products based on key words or item/catalog numbers.
These are only 3 of many new changes that occurred in 2009, thanks to your suggestions and honest critiques. Look for many more changes to come in 2010.
Thank you for taking part in the creation and development of our website! Your comments are always welcomed by our Customer Support Team at email@example.com or toll-free 800.325.4180.
On Jan 10, 2009, GideonOrchards Springboro, PA wrote:
I have ordered several times from Stark over the years. Plant health is always good. The last order, however, was disappointing. I ordered several Persimmons, Paw-Paws, and many Walnut and other nut trees.
The Persimmons and Paw Paws were twigs. The caliper was no more than 1/4 inch, and the "trees" were, essentially, 1 year's worth of growth twigs.
The nut trees were somewhat better. They were, typically, short, but at least looking like more than 1 year of growth in the root stock.
In short, they would sell a lot fewer trees if they were honest in their catalog about the stature of the trees; 1/4" caliper, 1-3 feet tall. In other words - twigs.
I'd rather have had the information before I ordered the trees, because once you unpack 60 trees you are pretty much committed.
My opinion now is that Stark is borderline deceptive with their catalog - deceit through omission.