Posted on February 23, 2007, updated May 16, 2015
I have mixed feelings about Annie\'s Annuals. The biggest issue is that many plants they list are California natives and very poor doers elsewhere, but particularly on the east coast, with its slushy wet winters. Very little of the South African material will overwinter in my Zone 6b climate, as a cool wet Spring will \"melt\" everything. Annie and her staff appear clueless as to what does well in other areas. Not their fault necessarily, but those living in Eastern states need to take their advice with a grain of salt. The California Mediterranean climate is rather unique to the United States after all, and many of these plants are not used to the \"muggs\" ...steamy, humid days with highs in the 90\'s-100\'s, and will quickly rot away in such conditions. Lupinus albifrons is typical of that kind of plant. It\'s fine in a dry climate such as Denver, but a cold wet Eastern winter will quickly do it in. And valuable information like this is NOT available anywhere in the catalog. Annie\'s Annuals is in a prime growing area for most of the plants they list. Away from this location, they are often fussy and intractable.
I also question the value of many of the plants Annie lists. The variegated Money Plant has never been variegated for me, and pretty much resembles the normal plant. It is supposed to get variegated when it gets bigger, but mine is now quite big and absolutely no variegation. The many poppies listed are transient garden plants and poor garden subjects, due to an extremely brief blooming period, and coarse unattractive foliage.
Whoever writes the plant descriptions must have been injected with \"I love the world\" serum an hour before. Every plant is absolutely perfect, with stunning form, a long blooming period, excellent color, freedom from insects, blah blah blah. However, anyone that has gardened for awhile knows that any species has its particular foibles or limitations. I\'d respect Annie\'s a whole lot more if they presented an honest, balanced picture of a particular species. Such statements as \"difficult to grow away from habitat\", \"spindly and falls over unless staked\", \"blooms for a few days out of the year\", \"prone to aphid attacks\" are needed in many cases. Annie\'s Annuals is still in a world where sugarplum fairies and Peter Pan fly around. I have no idea if that really is Annie on the cover, but she looks like something out of The Sound of Music. I half expected her to start singing \"The hills are alive...\" In any case, if you are diabetic, I don\'t recommend this catalog...you could succumb to terminal sweetness. I would prefer a more realistic approach to plant description, particularly as some of the species are little known as to hardiness, growability, etc.
One of the plants I ordered last year from a very remote genus came up and bloomed. Unfortunately, the plant was actually a common weed! The very nice woman on the phone admitted it was a common weed and sent me another member of the same genus. That plant was not a weed, but shrivelled and died in the next heat wave. Another plant apparently not prepared for the rigors of the East. (I unfortuantely cannot remember the genus!)
I think the plants are overpriced for what you get, and the packaging is unnecessarily heavy and bulky. I personally would take the plants out of their pots, scrape some of the soil off, and wrap the rest in aluminum foil, a la Siskiyou Nursery. The pots make the shipping box ridiculously oversized, and the resulting postage could be lessened considerably without them. Annie\'s apparenty pays people good money to pack plants, but I have received specimens in much better condition using more traditional methods that are not so labor intensive.
In short, if you live elsewhere than central California, please be aware that most of Annie\'s plants (even the true perennials) may be transient denizens in your garden. No amount of excellent care can overcome a plant being in a foreign habitat, and many western natives are extremely poor doers in the east, even for expert gardeners!
On February 24th, 2007, dave12122 added the following:
I was kidding about the sugarplumfairy and Peter Pan of course, but when I got my new Annie\'s Annual\'s catalog, there was Annie, on page two, dressed as a FAIRY PRINCESS!!! I\'m not making this up, I swear it! Unlike the sentiments of another poster, the tone of a particular catalogue is extremely important, as it can give one clues on how difficult situations may be handled. The tone here is apparently fun, fun, fun. Frankly, I don\'t think it\'s all that fun to receive plants that are not appropriate for your climate which then just slowly die. In that vein, I am going to take the time to describe some plants from this new catalogue which have not been good performers in Connecticut. I suspect they would not be worth growing or at best very short lived in most states East of the Mississippi, but that\'s just a prediction.
1, Convolvulus tricolor - Royal Ensign
Has a short blooming period, and the blooms only last a few hours. The stems soon trail and flop around the garden unattractively. In addition, this variety is subject to just about every kind of chewing insect going. So, you would have to spray vigilantly to control the many \"shot holes\". Almost never looks at its best even in full bloom. Eminently forgettable!
2. Anagallis monellii-
My experience is exactly the opposite of what the catalogue says. Has a short blooming period (the heat and humidity turns the flowers off here), needs rich soil and constant watering to survive. (mine wilted at even a touch of drought) and has never reseeded, even into nearby gravel. Yes, the flowers are pretty, but a weak plant and a poor doer unless you live in Seattle or Vancouver.
3. Papaver \"Lauren\'s Grape\"
A colossal disappointment. The stem looks like a drawn out pencil and bears ONE flower at the very end that lasts one day. Moreover, the foliage is sparse and unattractive. I fail to see the blue tone as in the description. Yuck!!!
A fussy species, even for experts, cannot take summer heat and is best for zones 5-6 or high elevations of zone 7. Certainly not appropriate for zones 8-10, unless grown as a short lived annual. In any case, even under the best of conditions is usually short lived. The resting winter bud is easily frost heaved. and even in flower, this really isn\'t all that attractive, the actual bloom is smaller and more tapered than the photo would have you believe.
5. Verbascums- All the listed Verbascums are poor garden subjects. The basal foliage looks like a weed and is coarse and unattractive. As for the flower spikes, only a few flowers open at one time, so that as the spike elongates it gets uglier and uglier, with bare spots at the base. At the end, you will have a few flowers at the top of a long naked stem that look absolutely ridiculous. Not to mention that the verbascums combine poorly with other plants. They stick out in the garden like that proverbial sore thumb and are difficult to utilize effectively.
6. Alcea rugosa- Here, it does NOT bloom from Spring to Frost. Three weeks is more like it, in early June. The stems can easily get to six feet or more, and have to be staked (a daunting task with this species), otherwise they easily collapse in a windstorm or heavy rain, and once collapsed are unspeakably unwieldy and out and out dangerous to any plant they happen to be smothering. I almost lost two very choice Azaleas because I did not realize the Alcea rugosa stems were on top of them! The foliage is also prone to chewing insects. An enormous plant with takeover tendencies (seeds everywhere and each seedling needs to be painstakingly dug out!) Use it sparingly!
7. Lewisia cotyledon- \"low maintenace??\" They\'ve got to be kidding! Needs absolutely perfect drainage, gravelly rich soil. Very prone to rotting in wet, humid weather unless perfectly sited. I grow mine in troughs which are put under a carport in winter. Lewisias in a wet winter climate will rot out unless a plastic cloche is put over them. They also cannot take hot, humid summers, and will develop a rust which disfigures the plant. Even under the absolute best of conditions, short lived in the east.
8. Gladiolus carneus- Yes more graceful than the modern hybrids, which are hideous. That said, a gladiolus is a gladiolus, which means:
a) stiff, unattractive fake looking foliage with combines poorly with other garden plants.
b) a flower scape which features only a few open flowers at one time . At the end you have the last blooms above many dying or dead ones, not a pretty sight. UNLESS you want to pull the dying flowers off every day. Doesn\'t sound like too much fun to me.
9. Cynoglossum amabile- Foliage is non-descript and prone to chewing insect damage. Airy flowers develop far above the foliage and flop all over the place, as the plant is very weak. Never looks right in the garden and it would be impossible to stake every stem. I would plant Myosotis instead, for a similar airy effect yet much better plant performance.
10. Oenothera pallida- An out and out thug in a hot summer climate, runs all over the place and is difficult to remove. Yes, the flowers are pretty, but at what cost?
If this saves some Easterner a disappointing experience, than I will be pleased. I might add that I have purchased these plants from other nurseries, not Annie\'s, and unless she sprinkles her plants with Fairy Princess dust, I assume their performance would be commensurate to those obtained from other sources.On May 16th, 2015, dave12122 added the following:
I haven't ordered from Annie's in 8 years, and decided to give them another chance. I only chose 4 plants that are hard to get elsewhere. The specimens they sent were nice, if not overwhelming, and appeared to be healthy. The real test will be how they perform in the garden. As to the postage, I personally think a large flat rate box via USPS is the way to go, or they should at least offer ground UPS. Yes it takes 5 days to get to the East, but the plants would be fine, especially the way they pack them. I notice the catalogue appears to be less "fun" oriented then it has been previously. There still are a great number of plants listed that are short lived at best, and an even greater number of listed species that are "in production or "unavailable". All this can make for a frustrating buying experience, as every year the plants I REALLY want are unavailable.
On May 10, 2013, lemurianne Ida Grove, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:
Posted on May 8, 2013, updated May 10, 2013
Posted on September 12, 2011, updated May 8, 2013
I had the pleasure of visiting Annie's earlier this year and was really impressed by their "nursery", which is actually just plants being propagated out in the open air of a big remote lot in Richmond, CA! It was remarkable and shockingly beautiful. The prices are a little nuts, as is the shipping, which kept me from placing an order when I returned home to Iowa this Spring. But I succumbed this Fall and ordered 16 plants! They were packaged well, albeit peculiarly -- the root ball of each plant is removed from the pot, wrapped in wet paper and placed in a sandwich baggie. Then placed back in the pot. The pots are securely placed in cardboard frames made especially for securing these pots, 4 pots to a frame. Two frames per shipping box, filled to the brim with PACKING PEANUTS. I loathe packing peanuts, but I have to admit that all but one plant arrived in pristine condition. The one plant that did not arrive well was the one I most wanted: The purple angelica!! It unfortunately arrived with 2 of three stems broken and not looking at all happy to have been in a box at all. I've tried to trim it up, repot it with fresh soil, and placed it in some bright shade. I have my fingers crossed that it will recover. But I digress! For the most part I am very happy with the purchase, the packaging and the fast shipping. Annie's really does have a great selection and the plants are very healthy and they seem to be great people so I will most probably order again and recommend them to friends (at least the ones with deep pockets!).
On May 8th, 2013, lemurianne changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
I feel so sad about changing my rating of Annie's, I still dream of the too few days I've spent at her absolutely fabulous nursery and the plants I've received in the past. I placed two orders this Spring and received the first of them today. First of all, the shipment packaging has changed -- there are no more packing peanuts, but there is nothing in their place!!! The plants are just free to fly and flit about the box in transit, AND THEY SURE DO. Some of the plants had come out of their containers, dropping their dirt all over everything else and losing leaves whilst no doubt being tossed about during their two day journey from Cali to Iowa. Upon tidying up the loose plants, I noticed one empty container. One of my plants has been "backordered", whatever that means...
As has been made obvious by everyone else, Annie's shipping charges are outrageous. I have never been charged so much shipping by another nursery, even ones that are shipping gallon containers!! Even ones that also ship 2nd day air from California!! Seriously, I got multiple packages today that were shipped on Monday from the west coast that cost way less and contain twice as many plants!!! Ahem.. so naturally, I order as many plants as possible from Annie's to make the crazy shipping charge worthwhile. Annies's has such a great selection that it's no trouble finding things I'd like! When they just don't send a plant, it's really annoying. I would have liked to have been contacted and given the opportunity to have something else put in its place. Most mail order companies that I have dealt with have contacted me if something wasn't ready or available to ship. I can only think of one exception, but their shipping was totally reasonable and fair so it didn't seem like a big deal.
Anyway, I'm unhappy. Maybe I wouldn't be so unhappy if Annie's hadn't set the bar so high in the first place. Also, my Bill Wallis geranium is but a wee little spot of a plant, NOT AT ALL what I have come to expect to receive from Annie's.
I'm so sad :(On May 10th, 2013, lemurianne changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Since there was no response to an email that I sent regarding this order, I called and spoke to a wonderful person at Annie's. She was very sweet and apologetic and it turns out they are sending my backordered plant for no additional shipping. She also said they are working on finding an alternative to the packing peanuts to help with the loose plants situation AND that they'd compensate me if any plants didn't survive. I'm still disappointed that the experience was not as wonderful as I'd come to expect. I'm not sure I'll order again until they have sorted out a better way to ship.
Annie's sells 4" pots. They do a great job packaging and shipping plants. I have also bought from their nursery since I'm local.
However my experience with them is that my failure rate is 2x that of buying 1-gallon plants and the growth habits of the 4" plants is highly variable. Some of my Annie's plants have grown only a little, some have grown as expected. Considering that their plants are only just slightly less expensive than other local nurseries that sell 1-gal specimens, I've stopped buying from them since I get more consistent and favorable results with the 1-gallon plants.
On Apr 20, 2012, jessbellamy Charleston, SC wrote:
In early March I ordered a large order because the shipping to the East Coast is very expensive, so you order all the plants for that shipping amount. When asked when I would like them delivered, the website only offered April ship dates. I called them, to explain that it gets warm in SC fast and could they not ship these sooner, as according to the website, they had them in stock. The answer was they could not, but would ship them on the ship date 3 weeks later. No problem, they had warned me online.
My ship date came, and my Annies box arrive, with a packing slip that said 1 of the 7 varieties I had ordered was 'backordered' and I wasn't charged for it. I was disappointed but, thought, okay, I can live without it though I found the lack of letting me know this ahead of time unprofessional. But then, when I looked in the box, I noticed not 1 but 3 of the varieties (of a total of 7) were not in the box. 2 of which I had been charged for. I called them immediately and got someone on the phone who never did quite apologize, but said at first they were having a 'shipping' problem, then said, well probably they are all sold out (backordered), and they were having that problem too (I guess of selling plants they had already sold to online customers). I asked her when she thought these backordered plants would be in and she indicated at least a month, if that were actually the case. She said she would call me back and let me know, and either cancel the rest of the order and refund me for those plants charged, or send them.
I never did get that call. Finally I called them, a week later. I spoke with someone else who was much more apologetic and sounded like she knew what was going on. She flat out told me that they had oversold stuff (somehow I still can't see how thats my problem), and that they would refund me, and I could try again next year, given that she understood that shipping here in May wasn't what I had bargained for. She offered a 20 dollar gift certificate, which I mentioned wouldn't even cover the shipping should I want to order again. She then did bump it up to 30 dollars to cover it.
So to sum up:
The good: plants came in good shape and those that came are growing fine. The second lady I spoke to was apologetic and took control of the situation.
The bad: did not ship plants as promise, charged for plants that weren't in the box (in their place they sent two empty plant containers!), I had to call them twice to rectify the situation, and for this year I will not get the plants I ordered a month before, because basically they sold my plants to someone in the nursery and hoped I wouldn't mind them being 'backordered'. They didn't offer to ship a similar varietal (though online it was 'in stock'.) They did not tell me ahead of time and give me the choice to cancel the entire order, which would have been the case as 2 of the 3 varieties not included were the impetus behind the entire order.
The ugly: in the end, I will not get the plants I ordered this year, and while shipping will be free come next year, when it is all said and done, this is the definition of a horrible mail order experience, and I will be ordering again at full price as I've already paid shipping once and they failed to send the plants I paid to ship.
So, this would totally be a negative review, and maybe should be, if not for the second lady on the phone at least trying to take responsibility for a very poor showing on Annie's part, and doing the only thing she could and offering a gift certificate that will cover the shipping. That gift certificate arrived within days. And, as I mentioned, the plants I did get were packed well and are healthy and doing well.
I have waited a few weeks to write this review because I hate to fly off the handle when mad, particularly with a nursery that has such as good reputation. I will give them another opportunity next year and I can only hope that they manage to set aside plants when ordered to cover actual sales. Massive backorders of items clearly in stock at order time is not acceptable, particularly when they were ordered nearly a month before. They told me to make sure I ordered early. I am telling them, that if they say they they have a plant in stock, make sure its still earmarked for the person you sold it to first, early or late! It seems this could be growing pains, and I hope thats exactly all it is.
On Apr 20, 2012, Annie's Annuals and Perennials responded with:
Thank you for your honest post. Frankly, we are horrified with what has happened with your order. Everything that could have gone wrong, we did wrong with this order. First of all, it’s unacceptable to have to wait three weeks for delivery. This has never been the case with our company before and we are hard at work to fix it. Secondly, we should have let you know when the items you ordered were not available at time of shipment and given you the choice to substitute plants or cancel your order. We should have shown more concern for you as a customer and clearly, we should have called you back when we said we would. We pride ourselves on our customer service and deeply regret that a perfect storm of circumstances has caused you to have a less than excellent experience with our company.
I’d like to refund your purchase and in a show of good faith, provide a gift certificate for free shipping on your next order. A customer service rep will be in touch with you today. We are deeply sorry for your disappointing experience and will do whatever we can to restore your faith in us!
Annie’s Annuals and Perennials
I have mixed feelings about this nursery. On the one hand, the abundance of plant varieties is outstanding. The website is fun to navigate and I have done mail order with them once. The plants arrived beautifully packaged and I had no issues with that. Shipping is expensive, that has been covered in great detail with other posters.
On the more "eh" side is that you really have to plow through the plant label hyperbole to get to the nitty gritty of growing conditions. And I do believe that inspite of many assurances that X or Y plant will do well in clay/shade/rocky soil or whatever your bane may be, there are simply too many microclimates (in the Bay Area, at least) to be assured that this is true. IOW, check online sources for growing or Sunset before buying. Less fluff, more hard facts is what I need. I have bought directly at the nursery and you should know that there are no discounts for buying from the source. The benefit of going there is that there are tons of plants. Everything is there. Not everything is of a size that is viable in YOUR garden, and there are alot of signs in the aisles that indicate what a "cash-worthy" plant should look like, so that is helpful. But, in the end it seems like a really huge indulgence to go there and drop seven bucks for a single papaver variety. What? How much? Many are labeled "rare" and priced accordingly and I have seen the same plant in the same good condition elsewhere for less money. It pays to shop around. The allure of the nursery has alot to do with the primary colors on all the structures and the sort of perma-party atmosphere. It's clever marketing and it does look lovely. I would rather see discounts on plants bought there though.
The last thing I wanted to say is that the nursery is not in a terrific part of the Bay Area. Face it, it's a ghetto. Get good directions in and out of the place. It's easy to take a wrong turn and find yourself driving into areas where there are lots of young men hanging out on the corners. Unless you are looking to pick up some crack with your delphiniums, you don't want to go down those streets.
On Sep 7, 2011, plantgnome1 nowhere land, NY (Zone 6b) wrote:
i chose to try & purchase 1 delphinium elatum and when i got to the page where the shipping charge appears I nearly fell off my chair. the plant was $9.00 the shipping was to be $28.00 which is over 3 times the cost of the plant-are they kidding me. talk about over the top.I don't care if they package the plant in gold plated boxes-that is ridiculous. I immediately deleted all my information and went back to my old standby Bluestone Perennials. I only gave a rating based on the shipping charges as I will never purchase from them because of the exorbitant shipping charge for 1 plant.
This is the first time I have ordered annuals via mail order. I ordered from Annie's based on the reviews here. I was disappointed and the neutral rating is because there were both positives and negatives. It was a mixed bag. Most of the annuals I got from Annie's are not doing well. I am an experienced gardener and all were planted and cared for appropriately-- except the two that were DOA. Their sweet peas are leggier and bloom more sparsely than the same ones ordered elsewhere that are planted among them. The Nicotiana and Sunflower Autumn Beauty are the only plants I ordered from them that are doing as expected. For the money, it is not worth it. They also do not have many of the varieties they carry in stock at the same time so it is difficult to place just one order and get even most of what you want, which results in much costlier shipping for separate orders.
On Jul 25, 2011, Annie's Annuals and Perennials responded with:
"On Aug 1, 2011 9:14 PM, Annie's Annuals and Perennials responded with:
We pride ourselves on our customer service and we answer all emails and phone calls personally. We are certain that this experienced gardener planted and cared for the plants well, however we are very dismayed to hear that two of the plants were dead on arrival. Just a quick phone call or email and we would have sent replacements immediately. If there are other issues, we would like to hear about them as well - we can help! Due to the complexity of growing so many different plants from seed - and each individual plant's requirements and demands - it's not possible for every plant in our catalog to be available at the same time. We have the most varieties available simultaneously at the beginning of spring, which we know is not always a good time for those customers under snow on the east coast. Please do drop us a line at your convenience so we may take care of the issues you had."
the plants arrived but after over month one of them did not make it. I emailed re: their replacement policy. They felt it was d/t to my error, and refused to replace the plant, considering that I spent over a hundred dollars with them. I felt that the cost of one plant would've been a gesture of good business. My local nurseries have no problem with replacing items with in the year that have died. (doesn't happen too often) Considering that I spend thousands of dollars a year on gardening. They know that I'm coming back.
On Jul 7, 2010, mikerotell Franklin Park, NJ wrote:
Incredible selection and I'm sure top quality plants however shipping to the East coast makes it cost prohibitive for that "must have" plant or two. I would love to give Annie's a shot at winning me over but just can't justify the exorbitant shipping charges. It is the rare occasion that I can't find the same plant somewhere else with more reasonable shipping & handling charges. That being said, I would suggest that those on the East coast, more specfically gardeners in New England & the Mid Atlantic order from Select Seeds in Connecticut. Their selection and quality are top notch, packaging is stellar and shipping is a fraction of what Annie's charges to our area.
First let me say that the website and plant selection are awesome ! However I feel close to $30 for shipping is just a bit too high. I know in some cases Fedex is a good choice but with most seed or bulbs USPS Priority Mail would suffice. I was going to order some things frm the website but I can't justify close to $30 for shipping 1 bulb and some seeds. Maybe give us a choice on the shipping especially in the economy we are in right now. Just a suggestion.
Great plants, lovely Nursery, lots of hard work...falls down with not very friendly staff...especially if your a professional...this spring I took my clients shopping (fifth year in a row) I had to fill out yet another form! that's three in as many years...each with a slightly tighter ruling. After gardening in the Bay Area for 24 years this is not the norm. Not sure if I will be taking clients there again?
When ones spending $300.00 plus in a single spree one would like to be treated like a fellow business person rather than a person on the verge of a criminal act on the scavenge for a meagre discount...
And yes they do quite often take labels out of your plants...this has happened to me several times...as I have to sort them out between clients later it is quite irritating
On the bright side, the 'old Longs Drugs" on Pleasant Valley, Oakland sells them for less & guess what...they are friendly to all..even! if you are a fellow gardner
On Aug 1, 2009, ptooming Titusville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:
I have recently found that the shipping costs have gone up dramaticly. It states that the more you order the less shipping you pay, Well sort of. Depending where you live. My first purchase of 1-8 plants shipping is $28.95 or an added cost of 3.62 per plant for shipping and handling. 9 plants and more is $25.00 PLUS 20% of the order for over 9 plants, I wanted to order 16 plants, my shipping costs came out to $3.32 shipping and handling per plant!!! Yes that is .30 savings per plant a savings of $4.80 when you consider 4 inch potted plants and your purchase goes from$140 to $193 thats a big jump. Thats over $50.00 in shipping for 2 medium size boxes. I have seen this as an issue brought up before with this company and now I see why. Yes I like the plants and have ordered from them, but I just can't do it any more.
On Mar 16, 2008, pixiesadelle San Diego, CA wrote:
After getting the Summer '08 catalog, I spent a good while picking out my top eight choices (to fit in the first tier of shipping prices--a hefty 14 bucks). Although a few of my choices included the statement, "Available in March," the others said nothing about availability. To make a long story short, it's March 15th, and only one of the eight I picked out is available. I couldn't believe it as I sat down to order and one after another came up unavailable for purchase.
The catalog describes itself as "plant porn," which is pretty accurate. It's a big tease.
On Feb 28, 2008, robcorreia San Diego, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:
I have ordered twice with them and want more! Love the way they describe the plants and I love to know those plants will all thrive here in CA.
On June 6th, 2008, robcorreia changed the rating from positive to neutral and added the following:
I have already ordered twice from Annie's. I do have to change my rating due to their bad customer service.
Upon my first order, I emailed them asking about the best location for two of the plants in my order. I received a response a month later or so, and of course it was too late and those two plants weren't doing good at all.
My most recent email was a few weeks ago, inquiring about their shipping fees ( I wanted to place a third order but one of the items I wanted wasn't available yet), and I never heard back from them. You know what, there are A LOT of mail order nurseries out there, and every single one made a point to respond to any inquires I have made in the past.
Too bad, their plants are nice but I must feel like a valued customer in order to STAY a customer.
On Nov 7, 2007, bmuller Albuquerque, NM (Zone 7a) wrote:
I love the website--and the fact that Annie's carries (some of the time) plants that are difficult to find elsewhere. I recently ordered (from them, online) a salvia saggitata that is thriving in a sunny window until I can transplant it outside when the weather is warm enough. It's a healthy plant; I hope I can keep it that way.
HOWEVER, the reason this response is a "neutral" rather than a "positive" is that when I ordered the saggitata, I also ordered a salvia semiatrata that had been listed as "available" but did NOT receive it in my shipment. It apparently was no longer available, but I was not told this until my shipment had arrived. (In fact, Annie's had sent me an email notifying me of the availability of both plants, and there was no indication when I ordered the plants that one of them was no longer available.) Considering the high shipping costs, I would not have ordered the sagittata, had I known the semiatrata wouldn't be included for that shipping cost.
I may order from them again--but not without first calling to insure that all the plants I'm ordering really are available.
The plants I ordered were listed online as available, and I expected their arrival a few days ago. However, I received a customer service answering machine message, saying that they were NOT available. Called back to discuss. Told the person who'd left the message that she'd called and I was returning the call. She responded, "I DID?" When I asked if a particular plant could be substituted, she answered, "Maybe they're available." Had to ask for her to check.
Long story short: No apology for having listed the plants as available when they were not, or for the delay in shipping. We'll see how the plants are when they arrive sometime next week. Hopefully, they'll wildly outperform the customer service and live up to the good reviews on this site :o)
On May 18th, 2007, CarpePacem added the following:
UPDATE: Plants arrived on the scheduled date (addressed to my surname and someone ELSE'S first name :o)
A few missing leaves, but otherwise nice, fat, healthy-looking plants. With tax and shipping, I paid about $12 something per plant, so hope they thrive spectacularly.
I feel the need to respond to Annie's (owner) post and explanation of her shipping charges and other comments.
This is on her website: "If you have never before ordered plants by mail order, you may dismayed to find there is a handling charge. That is understandable. Please try to visualize how time consuming it is to process orders, respond to mail order questions and to find, gather, clean and pack plants correctly. We really appreciate the people who do it for us and of course they need to be paid. We charge a $2.00 handling fee per plant."
My response: That's just the cost of doing business. $2.00 per plant is totally out of line. I order plants from different mail order companies all the time and have never paid this much, if anything. Having sold literally hundreds of coffee plants and brugmansias on eBay myself, I never added a "handling fee" and I packed them myself. I still have 100% positive feedback and I never had even one plant arrive dead or dying. I gave a 100% money back guarantee or replacement for 30 days with no questions asked. I was asked to replaced 2 coffee plants and one brugmansia in 4 years, which I gladly did.
Stated on her website: "We guarantee our plants to be true to name and will replace or refund, at our option, any which prove to be misnamed. In no case shall we be liable for more than the purchase price of the plants. Though we can't guarantee the viability of our plants after they leave us, we'll do our utmost to ensure your satisfaction."
My response: You don't guarantee your plants once they leave your nursery. That means that if I receive a dead plant, you won't replace it and I'm stuck? Sounds like it. If the plant doesn't grow, you won't replace it? I think you should seriously read the guarantees from other companies on the internet. A reputable company, Park's for example, will either refund your money or replace the plant and will not charge you for reshipping. While on eBay, I gave a 100% money back guarantee or replacement for 30 days with no questions asked. I was asked to replaced 2 coffee plants and one brugmansia in 4 years, which I gladly did.
Her website states: When you place an order on our secure website, youï¿½ll receive a confirmation email and tracking number. Your plants will be shipped within 7 days of your order date. We ship on Mondays and Tuesdays only. We ship plants UPS ground if you live in California. We ship UPS 2nd Day Air only for orders outside of California. Our pages automatically calculate the shipping charges.
My response: Possibly you should change your shipping methods to better serve your customers. USPS Priority Mail is just as fast if not faster, and much cheaper. They even provide absolutely free of charge and delivered to your business, boxes of all sizes, shipping labels, tape, and free Delivery Confirmation if you print the label online. They will also pick up your packages for free. My experience with them was: Out of 643 packages mailed in 2004, 2 damaged, 1 lost, 4 delayed beyond their 3 day stated delivery times. Excellent!
And finally, your prices for a 4" pot are high. Simply stated, on common varieties, I can go to Lowe's, Home Depot, or Armstrong and get them for about 1/3rd your price before your "handling charge." Just a quick example: I see you have a Yellow Bleeding Hearts vine for $8 in a 4" pot. I bought one at Lowe's in a gallon container for $3.95. Asarina white you have listed at $6 in a 4" pot. Lowe's had a 3 foot one with many plants on a bamboo teepee in a one gallon container for $2.95. It has reseeded itself and produces thousands of easily germinating seeds. Should I go on? I'm not even adding on the additional $2 per plant, which would make a substantial difference. I guess Lowe's, Home Depot, Armstrong and the other places don't pay their employees and they work for free.
I'm not picking on you, well OK, I am, but it's because I was irritated by your remarks and your lack of a reasonable guarantee. With your current rating, maybe you should reconsider selling online. Sorry Annie, but that's my take on it. Or you can stay in the mail order business and I'll work for you if you give me $2 per plant to pack them up. I figure I'd be making at least $500 per day AND I'll even provide the packing materials.
On Jun 27, 2005, Indigoez Floresville, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:
A few months back I heard about Annie's and visited the website, and she does have a wonderful selection of plants, including many South African plants I've seen nowhere else and had to have. Anyway, I ended up with about $75 worth in my basket, but with the shipping and the extra $2 per plant it was over $130!!!!
I have shipped many large plants to many people and I know that it doesn't cost anywhere near that much to send a box of plants in 4 inch pots, even if they were sopping wet. Why not just raise the individual prices instead of deceiving people this way?
On Jun 27, 2005, Annie's Annuals and Perennials responded with:
"This letter is in response to Indigoz, and other Garden watchdoggers who have have a difficult time understanding the price of shipping our plants. Shipping (by UPS) costs are calculated at exactly the cost UPS charges us to ship the plants. Outside of California, we choose to only ship by 2nd day air, which may be more expensive, but the plants arrive in excellent shape, which makes everybody happy. Our handling charge is $2.00 per plant. We add this charge separately as handling charges are not taxed. If we just increased the price of the plant, there would be extra tax within California where most of our current mail order customers live.
Indigoz, in ordering your plants – I’m guessing you did not consider what the handling charge is for. As our wonderful shipping department are not volunteers, they look forward to being paid for their labor. I’m not trying to be funny.
Please do try to imagine the time and labor it takes to get our plants to your door:
· As each order comes in, it must be processed by our office staff. This includes invoice processing, checking for availability if someone has just bought all of a certain variety prior to the current order and checking with the Agricultural department for current restrictions for each state. Next comes many back and forth e-mails answering questions that gardeners have asked regarding plants they have ordered and redoing invoices for folks who want to change the plants they’ve ordered, change delivery date, or add onto their order at the last minute. This must be done quickly and efficiently as we ship our incoming orders out right away. Agriculture also requires us to send detailed record-keeping for our shipments on a monthly basis.
· Now we come to the nursery, where our mailorder employees must quickly find each plant in our nursery which is 2½ acres in size, and at any time there are probably 500-1,000 varieties out there. After gathering each order, they must carefully clean and pack each plant in moisture holding material. They then insert each plant carefully into a specially designed insert which holds each plant securely in place during shipping. Don’t forget that our boxes, packaging materials and inserts are not free. Invoices are then double checked against plants to make sure everything is correct . After that, packers meet with agricultural inspectors going over each order.
· Several days later, we answer more e-mails from our mailorder customers with questions regarding planting requirements etc.
We often receive e-mails from happy customers telling us that our packaging is the best they’ve ever seen and our plant arrive in perfect condition.
I’d also like you to know, we try hard to keep our beloved workers employed all year (unusual in the nursery industry), pay far more than minimum wage, offer health insurance, bonuses, and paid vacations. Most employees have been with us a long time and we hope to keep them forever . . . I hope all this helps to answer the questions regarding handling charges.
On May 7, 2005, 1darkshadow Brightwaters, NY wrote:
My experience was similar. I spent a lot of time on the website over the last few months. The plants look beautiful online, and they have an excellent selection. I decided to order ten plants at an avg cost of $4.50. I was shocked at checkout to see that my total was $100. I would love to be able to visit the nursery, but as far as buying online, the shipping and handling seems excessive.
I spent time this winter exploring Annie's website and makings lists of what I would like to order. It is a great website and a very interesting collection of plants. I was very much taken aback when I realized that I had to add $2 to the price of each plant that I ordered for handling. The prices on the website for specialty annuals seem comparable to what I can get locally, and I was willing to factor in shipping costs as well, but in my years of extensive mail order purchases, I have never seen such high handling costs. This may be a factor that other shoppers will want to be alerted to. I wish I could visit her retail establishment.