Posted on August 16, 2014, updated August 25, 2014
I desperately want to like this company and be a regular customer of Stark Brothers. Everything in their catalog looks so tantalizing and they offer so many varieties at the click of a mouse, but my experience with them has been all bad. I have planted pear, apple, nut, and cherry trees under ideal growing conditions and had a 100% mortality rate. Something is wrong. The trees do fine the first summer, leaf out the second spring, then die the second summer in spite of adequate rainfall and watering and 2 summers that haven\'t been very hot. I spray consistently. I am losing the trees too late to take advantage of their satisfaction guarantee policy of 1 year.I have written to the company and recieved a prompt response but a very defensive one. Companion trees purchased at Lowe\'s are flourishing next to the dead Stark Brothers trees. I really don\'t believe that the cold winter or my gardening practices are responsible for 100% mortality for Starks and 0 % for Lowe\'s. Apple trees that won\'t grow in the Blue Ridge mountains? A lilac shrub I bought from (tiny, tiny) died as well. Be prepared to be disappointed and waste your money and precious time when ordering from this company. I am very sorry to say this, but it is what happened to me.
On August 25th, 2014, tooner2 changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Since I posted my negative review on this site, Stark Brothers has been trying to work with me. They have offered to refund or replace the trees. I am going to accept 2 trees, plant them in pots, give them extra attention, and see if I can get them to live and grow over the next year. Will change the review to positive if that works. On Aug 25, 2014, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Aug 20, 2014 11:56 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for leaving your feedback here regarding your fruit trees. We apologize that you feel dissatisfied with the response from our customer support manager regarding our limited warranty. Our Promise of Satisfaction states that you are eligible for a free one-time replacement -- or a refund of your full purchase price (if you don't want a replacement) -- as long as it is requested within a year of delivery.
Our customer support manager will reach out to you again after she further assesses the situation and gets a clearer view of the issue. We look forward to hearing from you.
Posted on April 24, 2014, updated April 25, 2014
Let me start by saying I am not a negative person who likes to complain. I had extremely high hopes for Stark Bros when I read all of the reviews, and I wanted to do most, if not all, of my future business with them.
My main problem is that they have changed my order not once, but twice. I ordered last summer, and even prepaid for one of my shipments. I just got a letter this weekend saying that they were out of order on certain items I bought. How does that even happen when I already paid for my order last summer?? Mind you this is the second time that they have sent me a letter saying that they are canceling things I have ordered. Around half of the things I ordered are now canceled, and I went ahead and dug holes and mapped out everything I ordered, so I am pretty angry. Each time they have given me some excuse, and I understood the first time, but the second time is a bit much. To top it off, I ordered from three different companies, and Starks is the only company to do this to me.
When I was young, I worked in the food service, and when we made a customer angry we asked them, "what can we do to make this right." Well, let me tell you, Starks has not asked me this. Their attitude has been "oops, sorry, excuse excuse excuse" Well that doesn't make me feel any better. If I were running a business and I upset a customer I would provide them a discount or a free item or something. I have sent several emails to the company and the responses have been pretty sparse which also upsets me.
I haven't even gotten my plants yet, and I hope they are great. However, even if they are great, I will not be giving this company any more of my money. Like I said earlier, there are three other companies I ordered from that seem to know how to treat their customers. These are Hartman's Plant Company, Arbor Day Foundation, Cold Water farms. I will be doing my business through these companies from now on, and I would advise everyone else to do the same. I am hoping for a good resolution to these problems, and I would like Starks to reach out to me to make this right.
On April 25th, 2014, avery1pj changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
I changed my rating to neutral from negative because the company reached out to me and offered a resolution that I think is acceptable, and that is all I wanted :-) I will change my neutral rating to positive if i get some awesome looking plants, and I am sure I will. I'll keep updating. Thank you. On Apr 25, 2014, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Apr 25, 2014 11:08 AM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Thank you for leaving your recent feedback here and we apologize that your experience with Stark Bro's was not a satisfactory one. We are dedicated to providing quality product and service to our customers, so we take all feedback as a learning experience in order to improve our efforts going forward.
Since we are working with living product, availability of certain items is not guaranteed. We are truly sorry that we did not properly communicate with you regarding items on your order becoming unavailable. Growing our own product is a two-year process and, if plants or trees do not meet our expectations, we will not ship them. Some items may not be available to ship to you due to your state's restrictions as well. This is why we typically don't charge you for your order until it is ready to ship.
We would like you to know you do have a credit on your account for the trees that we were unable to ship to you this spring. We are happy to rebook these trees on an order for you to ship when they are available again -- as early as November this fall if you'd like. Our customer support manager will reach out to you regarding your order issues, but if you have any questions or concerns, please contact our customer support team at 800.325.4180.
I would just like to put out there that if you have recently ordered the All-Season Blueberry Collection to check to see what varieties you are going to get as the website listed two different combinations on the same order page and when I contacted the company at the end of last week here is their response
"I see 2 Chandler, 2 Sweetheart and 2 Herbert when I go to this item. You would receive these three varieties, but not the Elliott. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you."
This is different from the catalog which list the Elliott and not the Sweetheart. I sent them another email after the response to further explain their mistake and have yet to receive a response however notice that their website is now changed to reflect the Elliott and not the Sweetheart. I have a screen shot if anyone needs it.
Posted on June 11, 2012, updated June 11, 2012
Posted on June 6, 2012, updated June 11, 2012
I have made a couple orders with Stark Bros. The first sweet cherry tree came snapped in half. A pawpaw tree was also broken in half in another order. The pawpaw trees that I have received have not fared well and all but one have died. The select or supposed larger superior trees are only modestly larger than the whips and they have no branches.. well they are dead. The one that did not die was the one that broke in half that I planted any ways.
I have pawpaws from One Green World that are doing super but they were not shipped bare root and poorly packaged. The replacement cherry tree is fine though the top half seems to be dead. I ordered 12 knockout roses and only a couple survived. When I contacted the Stark Bros. I got a lecture on how these were in greenhouses in Ohio and they may not yet be adapted to cold weather. Hmmm, I live in North Carolina. Better to get them from Lowes.
Stark Bros are very good in honoring their guarantee and I now have credit for the roses.. not sure what I want to order next though.
On June 11th, 2012, nukusjeff added the following:
Pawpaws in the NE are typically an understudy species but in the south they can get to 30-40 feet in height and more than a foot in diameter. I appreciate the statement that my experience was honest.
One pawpaw that is being replaced in the fall is in fact alive I discovered. Actually it is only the root stock that has life. I have moved it further into the woods in which I live. Hoping it acts as a pollinator.
The trees that came all the way from Oregon adapted well to the climate found in North Carolina and are looking super in my partial shade yard. They are planted in the same spots I had the trees that perished. Maybe they didn't have them in greenhouses? They arrived in May whereas the Stark Bros. trees I think were shipped and planted in November when they were dormant.
I am planning on buying some Pakistan Mulberry trees. Do those come in Stark® EZ Start® System pots?
All the best.On June 11th, 2012, nukusjeff added the following:
"understory"On Jun 11, 2012, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
"On Jun 6, 2012 2:46 PM, Stark Brothers Nurseries & Orchards Company responded with:
Stark Bro's is dedicated to providing quality trees and service to our customers and we take pride in that. Your feedback here is always welcome because you are sharing honest experiences with our company!
Other growers and nursery stock suppliers might carry bare root pawpaws, but the pawpaw trees we ship come in our Stark® EZ Start® System 4"x4"x10" pots complete with soil and dense root systems. Bonus fact: pawpaws are also an understory tree by nature and tend not to do so well planted in full sun.
The *potted* plants and trees we carry are grown in greenhouses here in Louisiana, Missouri and, when they arrive to you, it is recommended that you acclimatize these plants and trees so that they are less likely to be shocked by their new environment.
We thank you again for your feedback and hope you enjoy the selection of products we will have available to you in future seasons. :)
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 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 Ľ 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.
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. :)
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."
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 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.
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 email@example.com or by phone at 800.325.4180. "
Just recieved my order of fruit trees in a timely manner, and on the exact date specified. I ordered two sweet cherries, (Royalton & Starkrimson) and a pie cherry (Balaton,) all grafted onto semi-dwarfing rootstock. To be perfectly fair, their website does not specify the tree size offered; that should have clued me in right away that I would be recieving WHIPS. The Balaton is aproximately 3 feet tall, planted. The sweet cherries are less than 4 feet tall.
By comparison, both my local Home Depot and Lowes have semi-dwarf sweet (Bing and Black Tartanian) and pie cherries, ( North Star, I believe,) that are 6 feet tall and very heavilly branched- for the same price.
I have no reason to expect that the trees I recieved will not thrive, however, for a company that specilizes in fruit trees, I would have expected much better from Stark Bros. I will not be ordering from them again.
On May 22, 2007, Jim618 Maryville, IL (Zone 6b) wrote:
On 11/12/2006, I planted a Balaton Semi-Dwarf Pie Cherry and North Star Dwarf Pie Cherry from Staks. They were both received in good condition and were good looking trees. They are now both growing very well even though it went down to 23 after they started leafing out.
Stark did a good job. If you live where you can plant trees in the fall then I encourage you to do so. I am in zone 6 and have bought numerous trees from Stark and those received and planted in the fall do the best with the least hassle.
On May 22nd, 2007, Jim618 changed the rating from positive to neutral and added the following:
I planted 3 Bristol Black Raspberries on 3/31/2007. They were received a week late but in good condition. I ordered these in the spring because I think they are better to plant in the spring. The plants I received were very small. Two of them are a couple inches tall now and look like they will grow fine. One tried its best but never got more than two leaves before it bit the dust.
Although I like Stark's trees very much, I would consider order berries from someone else.
Recently received 2 apple, 1 cherry, and 1 pear tree from Stark's. Had originally ordered 2 pear trees, 1 of which was out of stock. This was a little annoying because I needed a pollinator and this was the only other tree that would grow in my zone so I had to order more pear trees from a different company. And also, in all, about 1/2 of my order was out of stock. Out of what I did recieve, the apple and cherry trees are doing very well. Have only been in the ground for about 2 weeks but completely leafed out. The pear tree has me a little nervous though. Had barely no roots and just looks like a stick out of the ground. We'll see... All in all, I would probably give them another try.
On Apr 26, 2007, PollyPolly Sussex, WI (Zone 4a) wrote:
I received an order yesterday from Stark. The order was incomplete. Of the items I ordered: Blackberries, Jupiter Seedless Grape, Neptune EZ Start Seedless Grape, Concord Seedless Grape and Heritage Red Raspberry, I only received the blackberries and one of the Neptune Grapes. I didn't order a Sensation Lilac and a Pink Butterfly Bush but I received both of those. I called Stark. The customer service person was very nice and re-ordered all of my items. However, the Concord Seedless Grapes are now out of stock so I won't be getting those even though I ordered them in March. She offered me a credit or an order next year. I took the credit. The stock I did get is outstanding in quality but the hassle of re-ordering, waiting and not getting one thing I really wanted is irritating.
I have had both a posititve and a negative experience with this company. Last year I ordered a cherry tree and paid $25.00 for it. I got a little whip not much bigger than what the Arbor Day Society sends you. I called and they sent me another whip. LOL
This year, I ordered two trees and was very satisfied with their sizes and their packing. They were sold out of one of the ones I wanted but then again, so was everyone else. Must have been a big year for Cinnamon Apple Heratige Trees...
Overall, I have to say I'll probably take my chances with them again.
On Feb 2, 2007, elfeik Near Kansas City, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:
In recent years I have ordered 4 Blueberry plants - (on half price) - & a miniature Orange Tree both are doing well. But the Rhubarb I ordered was dead and when I called I recieved more dead as a replacement - so I called again and was given a refund for the cost of the plants but not the shipping
On Mar 24, 2006, tobee43 groveland, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
Placed my order in Dec for Spring Shipping. I ordered a Lavender Twist Redbud and a Pink Cascade Weeping Peach Tree. The Redbud was supposed to have been 3-5 feet while the Peach was supposed to have been 3-4 feet.
The Redbud arrived with a good root system, however it was less than 2 feet in total. The peach was atleast 3 feet but had some rotten branches and some were also broken. I called and immediate was told that they could not replace the redbud since they were sold out. Makes one wonder if they ever had the 3-5 footers since I ordered so early. However, the customer service person was extremely nice and offered an immediate refund for the tree. Although the Peach had rotten and broken branches it did have a good root system but was immediately replaced when I mentioned it to the customer service person. (although I have not rec'd it as yet). There trees are shipped bare root to save on shipping cost but packed well and were still moist when I received them. If the customer service person had not been so nice this experience would have been neutral. I have hopes that the replacement Peach will be alright.
On April 8th, 2006, tobee43 added the following:
wow....the peach came and it was ok....looks like they are getting on the right road!! but still would have loved that redbud!On May 2nd, 2006, tobee43 changed the rating from positive to neutral and added the following:
i have also had a declining experience with this company. i rec'd my trees a few weeks back, bare foot, one broken and one much smaller than they advertised. however, they gave me credit because they were out of one and replaced the other. i had decided to get two weeping peach to replace the red bud that was no longer available. that is a total of 4 trees. since i have worked with bare root items before, i carefully potted them and began to establish their roots. well......weeks later ALL are dead. ( i have 5 other trees from other places that did just fine and was budding) NOT a one of theirs made it. the only reason that i have rated them a "neutral" is because they did give me credit for the two trees....but somehow their credit didn't seem to cover the order. i don't have the time to argue about the amount or be on the phone all day...so i just accepted what they gave me along with a lesson well learned. i'm NOT buying anything here again!
Stark is known far and wide and I've been impressed with what I've ordered. I am dismayed, however, that they have very little for the southeastern area. None of their apples, for instance, are those that grow well in our horrible conditions, but other companies offer varieties that would do well here. Same with most of their fruits. Don't forget us in the south, Stark, because there are a lot of people down here.
I ordered six trees from Stark's in 1991. I got seven. They sent an extra peach tree (take two, they're small?) They were small. One I eventually decided to cut down, because it never grew very well (runt of the litter?) but the other one continues to grow and bear. It's a Burbank July Elberta and it's wonderful. Also wonderful is the Starking Delicious plum. My Starkspur Dwarf Montmorency was wonderful, but it died due to underground rodent (woodchuck or vole) damage and a split trunk.
Stark's holds a number of great varieties exclusively, which is why I order from them. However their customer service is horrible. I wrote to them about the split trunk of my Montmorency, just seeking information, since the tree was already dead--as I explained in my letter. I described how the split trunk developed over several years, from the tree crotch down, toward the ground. I also mentioned that I grow my trees organically. I got a letter back that said the problem was due to borers, that attack the tree from the ground level and cause splits in the bark that work their way up the tree, and that I could save the tree by frequent applications of (not organic) borer-killer insecticide. They also sent another leaflet advising spraying every ten days all season with a combination insecticide-fungicide ( a spraying schedule much heavier than even commercial non-organic orchards use--guaranteed to put unnecessary and dangerous poisons into the environment and my system--kill all beneficials, cause cancer and nervous-system damage, etc.).
My one previous experience with Stark customer service was also negative. In 1991 one of my trees had bark damage. The customer service advised covering the damage with an asphalt-tree-coat product. It did not work, and I have since learned that professional pruners advise against use of that stuff. Stark's did refund the price of that tree. I replaced it with one from Miller's (I wanted Santa Rosa, which Stark's did not have).
My impression is that Stark's customer service are poorly trained and ignorant about fruit growing. They are not ones to ask any questions you may have. My experience writing to them about the Montmorency tree suggests that maybe they can't read. I said the tree was dead. They did not pay attention to the details or really, anything I said--and sent me a form letter. Also they have no sympathy for organic, or IPM, or even common sense (don't spray for fungus when you have insect damage, and vice-versa; don't spray for pests you don't have). Is it cheap insurance for them? Advise people to spray continuously and there's less chance they will request replacement trees? Or a chance to sell more of their products? (The sprays in their catalog). Either way it is bad horticulture.
Stark's is a great nursery because of what it was a hundred years ago--because they have a number of Luther Burbank'c varieties, and others developed since then (not including the "improved" Red and Yellow Delicious). I' ve gotten some wonderful tree varieties from them that I could not have gotten anywhere else.
But don't call their customer service looking for any tree-growing info or advice. You'd be better off reading a book.
It's probably an improvement that they are only offering a one year guarantee. Trees aren't "products, guaranteed or your money back." They're living things, and after delivery of a healthy tree, the rest depends on the care given them by the customer. And sometimes uncontrollable acts of Nature. The old Stark's may have gone bankrupt partly because of too
many replacements and refunds. I hope they are better managed in the future.
I just got a new Starkspur Dwark Montmorency--looks all right so far--smaller than I expected, no packing material, just wet roots wrapped in plastic--but very much alive, in fact already sprouting leaves. I hope this tree grows better than the one I planted in 1991 (prune to central leader this time and I think I can avoid the split problem, and protect from woodchucks and voles with buried fencing. Hope this works.)
I ordered 8 fruit trees for delivery in Spring. They arrived last month (and were billed last month!) I was totally unprepared/ pre-Christmas cash crunch. However, the trees themselves are very nice, the nectarine being outstanding. My co-worker ordered 33 + trees for fall; they are dribbling in to her. Company has good customer service, confused shipping department. The customer service dept. is friendly. Go ahead and order but SPEAK VERY SLOWLY.
I ordered trees from Stark Brothers in the past with good results. Last year, however, the majority of the trees I ordered never leafed out and remain lifeless sticks. I have had a miserable time getting the company, which is under new management, to make good on their guarantee. At this point I am still dissatisfied and will never order from them again. Here's what happened: I called in the summer to request replacements as promised in their guarantee, but received only a cryptic answering machine message that they were closed and may or may not reopen. This winter I was relieved to get their catalog in the mail indicating they were back in business. I checked the website, which was prominently advertised on the catalog, but nothing was there. I sent an email to the address listed, and it rejected. I tried again a couple weeks later with the same results. (Apparently, while they advertise they have a web presence, they have absolutely nothing.) I sent a fax. I received a letter saying they would give me a credit but not a refund. I called their customer service line to find out why they were not honoring their "Promise of Satisfaction". I was told the previous owners ran off with all the company's money (including the employees') and the new owner would only honor guarantees on future purchases. I am preparing to write a complaint to the owner, asking why he writes in the catalog that "nothing has changed", yet refuses to carry out their guarantee.
This spring, I ordered two celastrus scandens (American bittersweet) vines from Starks. Didn't do any reseach before placing the order.When the order came (late Apr 99), the plants were in very good condition. I also got a pack of 6 free bulbs, labled "lily fairy."I did some research on the bittersweet, and found out that there needs to be a male and female plant in order to get the orange berries in the fall. The catalog doesn't indicate this. It says "for best results, plant two ormore three feet apart." The plants were not labeled male/female, so I don't know what I got.I called to ask about all this. The CSR wasn't sure, so she asked her supervisor. First, they said that the male/female thing wasn't true; that the only plant they sold that required male/female was the kiwi. I said "that's not what I found." Then they said "that's why we recommend you order 3 or more plants, so there's a pretty good chance you'll get one ofeach." I read back to her the "two or more" line from the catalog. They said "oh that must be a typo, our computer says 3 or more." To which I replied "I wasn't informed of this whenI placed the order." She talked to the supervisor again, and this time they said that I should plant them, and the male will grow "noticeably faster" than the female. I didn't feel like arguing anymore, so I gave up; I'll try to find another source so I can get one of each.The next question I had for them was about the freebie "lily fairy." What are its planting requirements and/or bloom time? The CSR said "I would ASSUME you'd plant it just like any other lily." However, these bulbs are about the size ofa crocus bulb, which would lead me to believe it's different from the typical summer bulbs (e.g., asiatic, oriental). But, they were free, so I can't complain there.The actual PLANTS (bare-root) were in great shape. They started budding out the day after I planted them (a few days of 70+ degree weather certainly helped).Nevertheless, customer service always makes a big impression on me, so I will probably not order from them again.
I wish I could comment upon their service and quality of product. Virtually everything I wanted to order could not be shipped to California. I know that California has strict agricultural restrictions, but other companies usually have very limited numbers of nursery stock which cannot be shipped to California. I cannot help wondering why they even sent me the catalog.
I have ordered from Stark's several times. They have a good variety and offer many unique fruit varieties. However, I have never been impressed with the size or quality of the stock which I received. They did replace the trees that died over the winter. Once these trees got established they were fine.