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Swallowtail Garden Seeds offers a great selection with their online catalog and the seeds I ordered arrived in just a few days. Everything is packaged very nicely. I like the fact that seeds are enclosed in a sealed plastic bag within the paper packet with instructions. Also, the prices are very reasonable. I can't wait to get started with this year's garden.
All of the seeds I ordered were in stock (I checked the online status before ordering), and the seed packets have contained at least the amount of seed specified, usually a little more. Germination has been excellent on geraniums (100%) and pansies (80% or better) I'll update if germination is poor on any varieties I start later. The germination instructions were OK - germination temps for non-direct seeded plants, seed depth, light needed for germination were available on most packets. Minor quibbles: It would be nice if they included the time to start indoors before the last frost. I did have to look this up. And noting the outdoor soil temps for sowing (cool or warm) would be a plus for novice gardeners. The instructions on the sweet pea seeds and sunflower seeds are vague enough that a beginner might start the sweet peas far too late in our climate, and the sunflowers a little too early.
Shipping was a week or two slower than Parks and Pinetree Garden Seeds, even considering the distance, but it was acceptable.
On Feb 20, 2007, turtle_girl Westminster, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:
I have to agree with kqcrna in Cincinatti. I've yet to figure out why this company is so highly rated...and I'm fairly easy to please. My initial reaction was to give them a positive rating with suggestions on how to improve their website and customer service. However, problems with my order and a lack of communication from the company have soured me on this experience.
To top it off, I had to spend several hours of my free time doing research on how to grow their seeds because the packs often lack such basic information as planting depth, sowing time, or frost hardiness.
I placed a large seed order with them on 1/19 because of all of the positive ratings they got on this site. It took over two weeks to get the bulk of my order (a bit long, but expected). Part of the order was sold out and part was on back order. It would have been nice if they would have noted this on their website or at least sent me an email letting me know this so I could order from another source. The back ordered items were supposed to be sown in late January.
More than a month later, I've yet to receive them...However, I was charged at the time of my order. I'm not uptight about the money so much as I just find it to be a bad business practice.
Additionally, you can't check the status of your order online, so I called them a week ago (Not a toll-free call) to check on my back-ordered items. I received an Email back letting me know I should get the rest of the order "soon"...I guess they couldn't be bothered with the time or expense of returning my phone call. I'm still waiting for my seeds.
On February 22nd, 2007, turtle_girl added the following:
Though I appreciate the amount of work and dedication that goes into running a small business, there is a certain level of service that is expected of any establishment large or small. I don't feel that level was met in the way this company handled my order, especially compared to the service I've received from similar companies.
I also appreciate this company's high standing among DG members, but I can only speak for my own experience. Anyone researching this organization will see that it was unique.
Lastly, if this gentleman had put even half as much time and effort into communicating with me about my order as he did to responding to a "negative" rating on this site, I would have given his company a glowing reference. I don't want a refund. I just wanted a little communication and some information on how to sow the seeds I ordered.
My back ordered items finally arrived yesterday. If I get decent germination rates, I will change my rating to neutral.
As it is, my rating stands. Here is a further explanation as to why:
-Although the company does indeed have an impressive selection, there is no search engine to weed through it (something which is fairly standard in online retail) (Note: though I never mind browsing through seed catalogs, this makes ordering difficult because of the next issue)
-If you take too long trying to find everything you want, their website empties your "cart" and you have to start all over again
-Although they do offer a toll-free fax line for placing orders, their customer service phone line is not free to the customer (again, something which is fairly standard in any retail)
-Order processing is very slow compared to other seed companies (Case in point: I placed similar sized orders with Territorial and Swallowtail on the same day. Territorial shipped my order within two days and sent me an email to let me know it had shipped. Swallowtail shipped my order two weeks later and sent no email.)
Deal Breakers (for me):
-One of the items I ordered was sold out for the season and another was on back-order. The company did not notify me of this until almost 3 weeks after I placed my order and I received the rest of my seeds. Because their products are time-sensitive, someone from the company (or even an automated email) should have let me know this so I had the option to order elsewhere and still get the seeds in plenty of time to give them a good start.
-I called them (2/12?) to find out what was going on with my back-ordered items and asked that someone return my call. All I got back was an email saying they planned to send out the rest of my order later that week and I should get it soon. As of 2/20, my seeds were still MIA and I had heard nothing more from the company on whether they had even been shipped.
-Only a few of the items I ordered contained information on ALL three of the basic seed sowing questions (how deep to sow the seed, how many weeks before last frost to sow it, and how many weeks before/after the last frost to transplant it). Though their site does contain a very detailed and helpful page on general seed starting information, I needed info specific to what I was planting. I'm not a novice, but I also don't know all that info by heart. I ordered three dozen varieties of seeds from this company alone. The owner's suggestion that I call him for that info seems a little unrealistic, especially considering I couldn't even get someone to call me back about the status of my order.
On Feb 20, 2007, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:
On Feb 20, 2007 6:53 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds added:
First: We are a family run business and we sell seeds because we love it and we are certainly disappointed if anyone is unhappy. If this customer will contact us we will refund their money and they can keep all their seeds from their "large" order and it will cost them nothing. And they didn’t have to post to get this deal, we offer this to everyone—it is our standard way of doing business.
I am not sure who this is posting so I cannot address their concerns specifically. But we are here during the week to give planting advice (so there is no need to check reference books if you don't want to) and we respond by e-mail (usually within 24 hours) if you don't want to use the phone. However, it is my own opinion that the planting instructions on the packets are more than adequate and we have a great seed starting page on our site also (several Universities use it in their own programs). Perennial flowers on our retail (non-professional) site have winter hardiness ratings so you can become familiar with them before you buy and we have a zone chart on the site so you can see if the plant is right for your area.
We only charge for back-orders if we believe we are getting the item in very soon. But we sometimes get disappointed too. Crops fail, promises made to us by other companies to fill the void can't be fulfilled (and we understand this, no blame intended--this is Christmas time in the seed business and there is extraordinary demand for a limited number of resources). And sometimes our back-order date isn't met. We are not perfect.
When we tell someone to expect their seeds soon it means that the seeds have already shipped via U.S. mail and at the time of time of inquiry the delivery is still well within the normal shipping time. We do ask the person to keep us posted so if a problem does appear we can fix it. But it is true we get the credit when the Postal-Service is unusually fast and we get the blame when it is unusually slow. Neither is fair.
But a last point and I want to be very clear on this. We have a good rating because we earned it. We respond to customers quickly, we offer a 100 percent unconditional guarantee, we offer unusual varieties (over 4,000 counting our bulk section, and over 1200 retail). We cultivate a culture of caring about what we do and how we do it within the company.
It truly doesn't matter to me what our Dave's Garden rating is, it does matter to me that we behave here at Swallowtail Garden Seeds with integrity: both in the quality of the products we offer and how we treat our customers. And by that measure I feel very good about what we are doing and who we are.
To all of you, have a wonderful season. You have shown us extraordinary support over the past few years. And it is very much appreciated. And as stressful as spring can be for both growers on schedules and suppliers I hope we can all find it in us to be kind to each other and make a genuine effort at productive communication. We guarantee everything we do unconditionally, and that will hopefully ease at least some of the natural stress of the season.
Happy Spring and whether buying from us or another supplier, please really make a commitment to enjoy yourselves as you discover or rediscover the miracle of the seed.
Rec'd seeds quickly, and packages have the description and germinating instructions. I don't know about germination rates yet, but I would not hesitate to order again. Good prices and generous seed amounts.
On Feb 16, 2007, jasmyne Lindenwold, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:
I placed an order with this company and received it less than a week to the east coast. I found that they have great prices, good information, excellent shipping costs, and so far the germination rates have been 90-100%. Highly recommended.
On Feb 6, 2007, ZZsBabiez Lodi, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:
I found this website online and I LOVED the selection! I bought several different snapdragons and a few others I can't remember right now.. I'm so happy! It was just what I wanted.. and at a great price to boot! Great Germination rate! I will be back, no doubt!
On Feb 2, 2007, Windy Belleville , IL (Zone 6b) wrote:
I searched the web high and low for some seeds and a good price. I finally found the seeds I wanted and a chance to buy large quantity "bulk" items.
I am all set for my favorites and can't wait to sow these seeds in the spring.
I have a very long driveway that I like to line with some favorites every year. I am sure with the seeds I purchased I will have more than enough to make my entrance lovely , plus many leftover to add to other areas as well.
The seeds were sent in a padded envelope which is a deal breaker with me. If a company does not pad my seeds, they won't hear from me again.
I will definitely be ordering from this company many seasons to come. The price was also very competitive as well.
I ordered three varieties of foxglove online. Their site was easy to use, with great pics and planting instructions. Seeds were well priced and arrived extremely well packed. Shipping was amazingly fast, as they are West coast, I am East coast. Will definitely order again, Thanks
On Aug 12, 2006, Debbie_OK Lawton, OK (Zone 7b) wrote:
I ordered several packs of seeds last year that were perennials so this is my first season of blooms. I had excellent germination rates & they have all flowered true to color. I'm already making a list for my next order from this wonderful company.
I have ordered seeds from Swallowtail many times. The seeds have excellent germination and are generously packaged. They are also DOUBLE packaged in sealed plastic and then a paper identifying bag.
Please keep up the good work Swallowtail!
On Jul 1, 2006, LissyJ Stansbury Park, UT (Zone 6a) wrote:
I was very impressed with the seeds that I purchased from Swallowtail. I bought some tidal wave petunias and they are just blooming so great right now. They were well packed and shipped in a timely manner. Most of the seeds germinated without fail. I will definatly purchase from them in the future.
On Jun 3, 2006, boominggarden Bloomingdale, MI wrote:
This is great seed with good selection. I had trouble with germination of a couple last year, and received prompt and personal help with the particular seed types. I also received a credit for one type, and a replacement for the other. That is a nice company!
On March 8th, 2007, boominggarden added the following:
I have started my spring seeds, and I am still amazed at the quality, quantity, and value I received from this company. I would say--look at the positives, not the one negative, when considering seed and this company.
Purchased a lot of morning glory and columbine seeds in early May. Great prices and received seeds in less than a week. Seed packets were very nicely labeled with planting/germination instructiions and seeds were double-packaged (a plastic bag inside the paper packet) in each case. Almost everything has sprouted already. Only quibble I have is that the writing on the outside of their seed packets appears to be water-soluble (especially the green printing of the varietal names -- less so for the black planting/germination instructions) so be careful -- I soaked the morning glory seeds overnight, putting each seed packet under the glass holding those seeds and the next morning I couldn't read the names on the packets!
A high-quality source for true-to-name seeds, including many rare varieties. I obtained a 93% (!!!) germination rate with their Meconopsis seeds, while Meconopsis seed I've acquired from other sources never had a germination rate above 40%. Generous seed packets, fair prices, and quick, inexpensive shipping are also halmarks of this company. Highly recommended.
On May 15, 2006, zville123 Zanesville, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:
I've placed several orders for seeds and have always been satisfied. They have a great variety of seeds, generous seed packets with essential info and an easy to navigate web site. Will definitely order from again and recommend them highly.
On May 10, 2006, mimiy Boulder, Co United States wrote:
I've ordered seeds from Swallowtail Garden seeds for a few years now, and I'm very happy with the seeds, the service and the selection. The seeds germinate well, the directions are good, and I'm happy with the plants. Swallowtail carriers seeds I can't find anywhere else. Next year I'm going to order a few of their remarkable selection of tomato seeds.
On Apr 10, 2006, Gourdlady2006 Rienzi, MS (Zone 7a) wrote:
My order arrived in exactly one week, much sooner than expected. Every thing was in excellent conditon and packaged in a bubble enevelope. They have earned a return customer. Shiptment fees are cheaper than other companines.
On Apr 7, 2006, tripplestone Preston Hollow, NY wrote:
I can't believe people are complaining about the 2.95 shipping charge! The postage on my order was over 4 dollars. Though that probably means I'm buying too many seeds. I found this company late this season, but they will definitely be one of my sources next year. The shipment arrived earlier than I expected, and was very well packed. One of the items I ordered was out of stock, and they replaced it (free) with a new cultivar that I can't wait to grow.
On Mar 25, 2006, goatster Pine Mt, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:
This was my first order. I was also upset by the message the shipment would be delayed but I also got them much faster than expected. Very well packaged and they had the very hard to find Alpine Strawberry seed I was looking for. I would buy from again.
Ordered a fairly large number of seeds. They are very well packed - triple enveloped. Large paper envelope, small plastic ziplock and inside that the seeds are in a glassine envelope. Seeds I ordered last year ('05) and that I planted over the past two weeks and are germinating now (03/06) at close to 100%. It is a bummer about the delay in processing and shipping as I'll have to go to another vendor to get seeds that I am ordering today.
I have to give this company credit - their customer service is impressive.
I placed a small seed order - geraniums and gaillardia - and received my seeds within a week (a complete order - no back orders). I did not have good germination rates with the geraniums seeds and left a voicemail for customer service on Sunday.
They called me back on Monday - let me say that again - They called me back on Monday!
That alone gives them high marks in my book. Gail was very pleasant and concerned with the poor germination rates and confirmed that I should have gotten an 85 to 90% rate. After we talked, I realized that it was likely my error that caused the poor germination. I offered to repurchase the seeds - I really like the variety - but Gail was more concerned with my satisfaction as a customer and is sending replacement seeds.
The entire experience with Swallowtail has been a pleasure. I will definitely order more seeds from them again.
On Mar 12, 2006, pooklette Janesville, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:
I placed a small seed order on Feb. 25th and it arrived on March 9th. All of the packets came with very detailed instructions. Their website was quite easy to navigate, had great product photos and offered a wide variety of seeds.
The website says that they send email order confirmations, but I never received one. That did make me a little nervous. Despite the lack of confirmation, I did get my order and it was shipped by the date given during the checkout process. Overall, I would definitely order from Swallowtail again.
On April 21st, 2006, pooklette added the following:
Now that I've had a chance to sow the seeds, I just wanted to add that all of my Swallowtail seeds have shown excellent germination. Without a doubt, Swallowtail is getting an order from me again next year.
On Feb 28, 2006, kqcrna Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:
I placed an order on 2/22. I really wanted to plant some of those seeds nowbefore spring. I contacted the company by phone yesterday (2/27) to see when I could expect to receive them. They couldn't tell me, only that it usually takes 2 weeks. My order has not shipped yet. I don't think that's very efficient service for a few seed packs at the charge of $2.95.
Karen, zone 6, Ohio
On March 1st, 2006, kqcrna added the following:
I guess I missed that message on the shopping cart; I would have ordered the aquilegia and poppy elsewhere. (I plan to wintersow those and want to get them outside ASAP). By comparison I ordered seeds several times from the Pumpkin Nook (seeds always half price) and received the order promptly; in one case they arrived the next day! The only other place I ordered from where delivery took this long was valueseed.com. For seeds at 49 to 89 cents/pk and 99 cents shipping, that's OK with me. But I think a company selling seeds for $2 to $3 a pk plus $2.95 shipping, I still think 2 weeks is a long turnaround for an order. Notice, I did not rate Swallowtail as neg, only neutral so far. If the seeds germinate and bloom beautifully I will be happy. Does it seem odd that a company who is so busy it is backlogged this far for shipping orders can manage to respond within hours to a neutral review on gardenwatchdog?
KarenOn Feb 28, 2006, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:
On Feb 28, 2006 4:54 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds added:
We post the ship date for every customer on the first page of our shopping cart (and that date for this customer has not yet arrived as of 2/28) so it is our sincere regret that our attempted communication failed in this instance.
For others using the site, be sure to look for the ship date on the first page of the shopping cart, it is in red letters. This is the peak of the season and shipments are taking longer than than they have in previous years to ship (although virtually all orders arrive within two weeks of the order date, and usually somewhat sooner.) And as the season begins to slow, we will return to our regular 2-3 day shipping.
It is ironic that all the nice comments both here and in the convential press about our selection, quality and fast shipping have actually caused us to ship a few days slower during this peak time. We are currently growing at nearly a 40 percent rate; and as exciting as that is, as affirming as that is, it does present challenges when it comes to getting orders out fast.
Our selection and quality however has not changed and the fast shipping we have been known for will return-- and in the mean time we will always disclose to you on the shopping cart the the day your package will ship, so you can make the decision to wait or not.
We thank you all sincerely for your continued support and for sales that make this truly a year to remember. Thank you so much....
On Mar 1, 2006 8:06 AM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds added:
We respond to everyone who expresses disappointment with any aspect of our business, whether it is through Garden Watchdog or through our web site, and we do it promptly at all times."
I ordered several types of flower and vegetable seeds last year (2005), and was very happy with my experience. I especially like the way the seeds are packed. Most come tripple packed in an inner plastic zip lock bag, a waxed paper envelope, and an outer paper envelope. I had good germination with most of them. I think the only ones I had an issue with were the type that take a long time to germinate, because I sowed them in peat pots and they dried out too quickly.
I had a slight problem with the website when I ordered, where at the very end I got an error and the order did not go through. However I called and they were able to solve the problem by having me paste the list of items I had ordered into an email.
On Oct 26, 2005, kbaumle Northwest, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:
Nice packaging. I bought only columbine seeds and sowed them as soon as they arrived (back in September). Most of them germinated, but a couple varieties did not.
On October 26th, 2005, kbaumle changed the rating from neutral to positive and added the following:
EDIT: I have to change this to a positive, as I heard from Lynn from Swallowtail within an hour of posting my rating. I received a refund for the order, although I assured Lynn it wasn't necessary. They have good prices and I wasn't out that much anyway, but it was a nice gesture and for that, I have respect for them as a company that cares about their customers.
On Sep 30, 2005, gardenstone Centerburg, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:
Excellent customer service! I had trouble sending my order through their online secure server. I e-mailed them with my trouble and Don from Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded within the hour! My problem has been resolved and my order will be filled. I will post again once I receive my order.
On Aug 25, 2005, sweet_whitney Tucson, AZ (Zone 8b) wrote:
I am very happy with the quality and price of their seeds. When I ordered, the seeds arrived within a week. The germination rate of the seeds was excellent, and the plants were true to type. I've ordered twice from this company, and plan to order again.
On Aug 9, 2005, mlm01 St. Louis, MO (Zone 5b) wrote:
My experience with this company was very positive, just about every seed germinated (I say just about because I assume there may have been one that didn't germinate, but I didn't actually see it!) Very well packaged with great instructions, timely shipping. I'm very satisfied and I will use this company again.
On Jul 24, 2005, jestelleoan Tyler, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:
I was having a hard time sending in an order so I e-mailed them and got back an e-mail with in hours. They had checked there computor and others and then offered to help me with mine even to the exstent of having there computor department help me. It was me [computor dumb]. I sent in my order and got my order number right back. There service is outstanding and I am looking forward to do busnisses with them.