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I have been a long time customer of santa rosa but my last order didn't go quite as I had planned. It seems SR is taking shortcuts I have never seen them take before, making me wonder if they should still be my go to mail order nursery.
I have always loved that while the SA plants may be small, they have very well established roots that allow the plants to take off quickly. In very short time, you can't even tell that I didn't purchase the product locally.
I placed a large order for several plants. I purchased several hostas from their "bargain bin." Upon receiving them, I found out I was sent liners and the plants were HEAVILY root bound. Their website FAQ clearly states that they never send liners. Even the listing for this product status the product size as '3" grower pot.' When I contacted the company, they stated that the picture clearly represents receiving a liner. The picture does in fact have the roots showing (note, not root bound), even if no other text on the web page says a thing about this. Apparently the picture is supposed to over-write everything else.
I also ordered some hens and chicks off the site, to find they now use "2" catcus pots" ie liners. They just call them something different so that they can say they don't use liners. Well my particular product was listed as a "4" grower" pot. After pointing this out, they quickly changed all of the listings to display the cactus pot size. Beware, what they mean by cactus pot is a liner. The plant that I received had one tiny (maybe 1.5"?) head on it.
Then there was the ice plant that I ordered which had been so heavily overwatered for quite some time that it was completely melting when removing it from the box.
One of the non-bargain bin hostas that I was sent had a caterpillar on it, which had completely eaten one of the hostas down to almost nothing. I get that those guys are sneaky, and if that was the only issue probably would have just laughed it off.
I did receive several other plants which were up to the normal SA quality that I have come to love.
The customer service at SA is typically very top notch. They did reply to me quickly and did credit the above plants with apologies for listing the size wrong on the hens and chicks and the caterpillar. I can't ask for more than that as long as I order from them again and an use the credit. However, I didn't appreciate the snide remarks about knowing what I am receiving because of the picture, even if it doesn't align at all with anything on the website.
I don't know if I will order again, because I have been so fond of the fact that SA doesn't send liners, sends healthy plants ready to go crazy, and stands behind their product with no questions asked. Now I don't know of any particular way to determine exactly what I will be receiving, and I don't want to have to go through the hassle of receiving tiny plants that I will have to nurse before they can be planted.
On Jun 18, 2013, Santa Rosa Gardens responded with:
"On Jun 18, 2013 10:50 PM, Santa Rosa Gardens responded with:
We appreciate your feedback, and we certainly value you as a loyal customer. You can be assured that our goal is to always provide our customers with the best priced plants AND the best customer service in our industry. Our top goal, however, is to provide plants that will succeed for our customers. We grow many varieties of plants and our standard plant size is one that we are proud to offer and are confident will succeed for our customers. We worked hard to develop a pot size that is shippable but DOES set us apart from the bare-root and liner suppliers. For Santa Rosa Gardens, it's simple: If a plant does not succeed, we have failed and will do what it takes to remedy the situation.
Santa Rosa Gardens does offer 'bargain' plants at very low prices. These plants are noted on our website as being outside of our normal standards. This is how we describe our Bargain Bench on our website:
About our Bargain Bench: Here you will find an offering of plants which we may have only a few of in stock. Also, plants listed here may have blemished leaves or have suffered some cosmetic damage to the leaves or stems. These plants may be in smaller sized containers that we don't want to take the time to pot up or perhaps it's too late in the season. They will have significant 'clearance' pricing. Plants offered here are healthy, but will be sold cosmetically 'as is'. With proper care these plants will grow and produce the same quality flowers as the other plants but you can get them at bargain prices. Have a heart...give these plants a chance to flourish!
Bargain plants are exactly that...a bargain. Whether they are in a gallon pot or a 3" grower pot, we price the plants at a much lower price than that pot would normally sell. This season, some of our hosta did have overgrown roots, which is one of the reasons they were placed on the bargain bench and many were reduced from $12.99 to $2.99 per pot. Then some later reduced to $1.99 per pot. They were very viable plants that were a definite bargain to any gardener buying them. Yes, they were in a 3" deep pot, not a 4" deep pot.
As for our hens and chicks... We grow them in shallower pots because they simply do not root out as well or as quickly in a season. Their roots remain shallow and because they must also ship out slightly drier, in deeper pots they just end up being a dirt mess in the box. Our goal...provide our customers with a quality plant that will survive and flourish. We do price them accordingly.
We guarantee what we sell...period. Plants are not perfect creatures and we certainly are not either, but we stick to our goal. Provide our customers with plants that will flourish and that they will enjoy. If we fail...we WILL and DO make it right. We hope you will continue to give us an opportunity to prove that to you."