I ordered from Bluestone Perennials (BP) last fall on the basis of the overwhelming positive feedback on Dave's Garden. Unfortunately, my experience did not live up to the hype. I order a variety of perennials and all have been disappointments. I won't be ordering from BP again.
I ordered irises, phlox, shasta daisies, baptisia, mums, and a peony, all of which I planted last fall. At the same time, I planted other perennials (different varieties of the same plants) purchased from another online retailer and a local garden center. Whereas the other plants are thriving, none of the plants from BP are doing well.
The irises seem to have survived, but they are so thin and weak, they are hardly distinguishable from blades of grass. The phlox and daisies have yet to show any growth. The peonies from Adelmans have each sent up 3 or 4 stems, all of which are about 2' tall already and are forming small buds, but the peony from BP hasn't sent up a single shoot. If I hadn't put a stake in the ground where I planted it, you wouldn't know there is a peony root there.
I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, but it is well earned.
On May 13, 2015, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
"On May 27, 2015 3:08 PM, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
I hope you will be in touch so that we can make things right for you. Your purchases are guaranteed and we can reship or refund per your wishes. I apologize that the new plants struggled to do well over the winter."
Posted on July 8, 2013, updated May 26, 2014
Posted on May 7, 2013, updated July 8, 2013
My first order with this company. Plants arrived as scheduled, nicely packaged. Healthy and a nice size. Coco pots are great, will not be my last order.
On July 8th, 2013, Gully changed the rating from positive to neutral and added the following:
Plants ordered this spring have not thrived. They are still alive but not doing as well as other plants purchased elsewhere, having very little, if any, growth. I have come to believe this is because of their coir pots. Like others have said, I wish I had removed them before planting.It looks like I will have to replace them with plants purchased elsewhere.On May 26th, 2014, Gully changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:
Sadly, not one single plant survived the winter which I believe is due to the Coir pots. The plants died but the coir pots are still completely intact. I would highly recommend to future buyers to remove them before planting. Disappointing experience.On May 26, 2014, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
I am so sorry to hear your plants did not survive this year's brutal winter. So many people have lost so many plants!
We have made several improvements to our pots since you ordered, and we have since discovered that they do not disappear in the soil, they decompose slowly and amend the soil, becoming part of the soil. The pots can be removed, but we find it sets the plants back by 3-4 weeks as they recover, but they will catch up to the plants planted in the coir pots during the season, so it really comes down to personal preference. Our newer versions are thinner, and just as easy to work with. I personally do not use mulch in my garden, so I plant in the pot, but trim off the top rim of the pot (3/4") with a scissors as I plant so that the rim does not show above ground. It only takes a moment, and I like the look.
I hope you will give our plants(and pots!) another try, and that Mother Nature will be more kind to us all this coming winter. Jan / Helpdesk"
I'm shocked to find myself giving Bluestone Perennials a negative review, but I can't help it.
I started ordering from BP back in the last millennium--before they even had a web site. I was always, ALWAYS thrilled with the plants I received, both in terms of how they arrived and how they ended up growing.
But last year's order yielded a terrible surprise of plants that were not thriving when they arrived--and 90% of which have since died. They included several varieties of Iberis, along with Stachys, Penstemon, Viola, and Clematis.
In the past, on the very rare occasions when I had a problem with a BP plant, I contacted them and they immediately and fairly took care of the issue. This time, though, I've held off contacting them because I'm concerned that it'll seem outrageous, as in I'm making it up so I can get a bunch of free plants. But I'm not making it up, and I am extremely disappointed.
Also, while I wholeheartedly approve of their switch to biodegradable pots, what I'm finding with their new coir pots is that they're not dissolving as expected, even a year after being planted. So it's a good idea, but not quite there yet as far as working as expected.
On Apr 18, 2014, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
I hope you will be in touch with us so that we can make amends on your order. We appreciate that growing perennials in California can be challenging, especially with the recent drought conditions in much of your state, but we stand behind our plants and we can always, if nothing else, refund your purchase price. I also wanted to let you know that we have made several changes in our pots, and continue to make improvements every year as our experience with them grows. Our current pots are much thinner than the originals, and we have found that, rather than dissolving (so to speak) they are gradually becoming part of the soil - a soil amendment as it were - and will be identifiable/visible for years, especially if your soil is not consistently moist (which allows the pot to decompose). You should not hesitate to cut off the top rim if your area is hot and dry, as this will improve the look and tucking the pot below the soil line will allow the needed contact with moisture that speeds the breakdown."
On Jan 8, 2014, daigwil Iowa City, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:
Sorry Guys, I used to order from Bluestone quite a lot, but I had the same experience with others with these coir pots. Quite a lot of the plants died, and when I looked the following spring the pots were still there, in one piece. It seems like a good idea, but it just didn't work reliably enough, at least in my experience. And the prices increased enough that I really couldn't justify paying thata much for their plants. They do have an awesome selection, so if you are looking for something really specific, it might be worth a shot, but now I just stick to my local nurseries.
Posted on May 19, 2013, updated October 30, 2013
Posted on May 15, 2013, updated May 19, 2013
Posted on May 15, 2013, updated May 15, 2013
Posted on May 14, 2013, updated May 15, 2013
Posted on May 21, 2012, updated May 14, 2013
Posted on April 17, 2012, updated May 21, 2012
Posted on April 17, 2012, updated April 17, 2012
Posted on April 29, 2011, updated April 17, 2012
Posted on October 12, 2010, updated April 29, 2011
Posted on May 21, 2008, updated October 12, 2010
I have just received my 4th order from this company. I was quite disappointed as the Astibles were in terrible bent over and broken condition due to the packing peanuts. I wrote the company and they immediately shipped out a replacement order without further questioning. You cannot beat that for customer service. I would highly recommend buying from this company. I will most surely continue buying at Bluestone.
On April 24th, 2009, stormcloud added the following:
Bluestone Perennials remains one of the best online nursery's in customer satisfaction as well as fairly priced plants of high quality. In my opinion and I have ordered from many !On October 12th, 2010, stormcloud added the following:
BLUESTONE is the best....you can count on them to always be reliable and stand behind their products without giving anyone a hardtime. On April 29th, 2011, stormcloud added the following:
I placed an order here mid winter and it arrived as scheduled in early April.
Apparently shipped too early as some teeny tiny seedlings were crushed,and broken. The quickly replaced them with hearty looking plants so they are as good as their word regarding their guarantee.
Their packing is just terrible and things arrived dumped and broken when you finally get thru the peanuts to locate the plants.
I DO THINK THEY ARE THE BEST ONLINE NURSERY TO ORDER FROM AND I WILL CONTINUE.On April 17th, 2012, stormcloud added the following:
Yesterday my Bluestone order arrived and was I ever shocked ! Opened the box quickly since it was very hot here....the little plants are just as full and perky as can be,
The new packaging is fantastic and well worth paying more for.NOW ALL I HAVE TO DO IS HOPE THEY GROW !! LOVE THIS COMPANY !On April 17th, 2012, stormcloud added the following:
P.S. With all the poor companies online, and I have had my fill of them, I cannot imagine why anyone would give a negative rating to Bluestone.On May 21st, 2012, stormcloud added the following:
I received another terrific order from Bluestone !! Went ahead and placed yet one more since there were coupons in the box with the order.
The first group are in bloom already !! I just love these new pots....top soil did fall out during shipping but added a few spoons of soil until I got to planting..This has been a great experience for me as I am handicapped and do most all of my ordering on line. I have received so much junk and so many problems from several online nurseries and am just delighted with what I have received from Bluestone !! MANY THANKS FOLKS !On May 14th, 2013, stormcloud changed the rating from positive to neutral and added the following:
I am no longer happy with Bluestone perennials. Not a one of the plants I ordered and planted last year (2012) has returned this Spring. Each of my other perennials is up and thriving. I was so pleased with the coir planter pots when they arrived but I am so disappointed now.
What has further happened is i wanted Dorothy Rose Aquiligia and nowhere cold I locate them except at Bluestone. So I took a chance and ordered 3 and they arrived last night...Another great disappointment !
One of these tiny little plants has the main stem broken off. They are each 2 leaved plans and a total disgrace at $9.5 each plus $9.99 shipping I thought I could expect a reasonable order to be delivered. NOT SO.
I do not know what has happened to this former top 30 garden center.On May 15th, 2013, stormcloud changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:
Unfortunately I feel the need to post NEGATIVE on my feedback now.
I wrote to the company about the defective plant I was sent along with other issues....
They have not responded to either my personal e mail or my neutral post on here. I am so disappointed...what has happened to this once great company ?On May 15th, 2013, stormcloud changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
OK..perhaps I changed my original rating too quickly, however they do say to notify them as soon as possible if plants arrive damaged.
I am terribly aggravated over all the dead and not dissolved plants from last year .
I will wait until the new plants arrive and then may upgrade once again. Original email was sent on the 13th.
Thank you for responding here.On May 19th, 2013, stormcloud added the following:
Bluestone is a reliable honest company. They have replaced the the 3 Columbine they originally sent with reasonable plants. However, I am not changing my rating from neutral because I do not think it should be necessary to go through all this in order to get something reasonable for their high prices. The new plants are more than double the size of the original ones which should never have been shipped in the first place.On October 30th, 2013, stormcloud changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:
I need to update my comments for others to read. Not even 1 of the items I bought from Bluestone in the past 2
years has survived.
When I remove the dead plants from the ground they are still intact in the coir pots having not ever grown at all.
I do not know what has happened to this once A+ company .
It is much too embarrassing to be writing to complain to Bluestone so I will just not be buying from them again.On Oct 30, 2013, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
"On May 15, 2013 1:30 PM, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
We received the email you sent last night when we opened this morning, and the office will be responding directly via email to resolve your shipping damage with either a reshipment or a refund, at your request. Also, we were notified of your change in our ranking this morning, and I have every faith we will be able to regain your trust in us. We are the same company we have been for 40+ years, and we stand behind our plants - guaranteed! Note: the office advises me we are reshipping your Aquilegias today."
On Aug 15, 2013, ClevelandLinda Cleveland, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:
I ordered 2 viburnums - one arrived dead and the other hasn't grown beyond the 6 leaves it came with. Three dropmores also arrived dead. The aster I ordered is doing very well. Bluestone will be sending replacements of the DOA plants. Bluestone's plants are very small for the price.
On Aug 15, 2013, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
"On Aug 28, 2013 10:41 AM, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
I'm glad you have given us the chance to make good on your order. I am sorry your original order arrived in poor condition, and I have every faith that the next set will arrive in great shape. Please don't hesitate to let us know, as we can take further action if needed."
Posted on February 7, 2010, updated July 8, 2013
I ordered 13 plants from Bluestone during a half price sale. I ordered Astible, Sweet Woodruff, Sandwort, and White Bleeding Heart.
The plants were small but healthy. Some of the items I got were purchased with the future season in mind so I can't tell about their blooms but the plants grew and spread beautifully over the summer. My Astilbes bloomed and were lovely.
The only problematic plant was the White Bleeding Heart which arrived broken. I was assured by the friendly customer service agent to plant it and it should come up in the spring so time will tell. If it does not, I was told to call for a replacement. Reading the feedback on this site and from my own experience, I truly trust that this will be the case. I just hope I won't have to as I will love to have a blooming white bleeding heart this spring!
On July 8th, 2013, miss_sassy changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
I hate to write this complaint about Bluestone as I have thoroughly enjoyed ordering from them for years and given a few gift certificates. However, as another reviewer noted, you just don't want to call customer service and complain again about dead plants.
Unfortunately, over half of my order from last year did not come back this year. I think it might be their coir pots. The plant aren't there but the pots still are from last year - they haven't completely broken down. I wish I had taken the plants out of the pots to plant them.
I also have a few more expensive plants from them that have failed to thrive or died from previous years (two clematis and a hydrangea come to mind).
I wish there had been another outcome. Receiving the Bluestone catalog in the winter gets me dreaming of summer. I love their selection and while the replacement policy is great, I just don't feel comfortable calling and asking for a replacement for so many plants.
On May 26, 2013, ferncrazy San Francisco, CA wrote:
I emailed them and to date have received no reply. I informed them that my Armeria rubrifolias arrived very dry, many buds, very dry, foliage next to the coir collar brown. I finally removed the coir collars, have watered them daily, they may or may not survive. The next order came shortly after. Planting mix bone dry.
I compared their geranium phaeum "Samobor" with another vendor's I received same time. Bluestone's is yellowed, small- leaved. Magic Garden Store's is large, green, gorgeous shape. I won't buy from Bluestone again.
On May 26, 2013, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
"On May 28, 2013 11:12 AM, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
Hello ferncrazy, I have checked into this with our office manager and I am glad to hear you are in direct correspondence with us as we resolve the situation. I apologize that we were not able to answer emails over the holiday weekend."
On May 8, 2013, revclaus (Judith) Denver, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:
Posted on February 12, 2012, updated May 8, 2013
Posted on April 9, 2004, updated February 12, 2012
Last summer I ordered a couple of sale plants from Bluestone, and they arrived quickly and in great shape. Even though planted in June, they bloomed throughout the summer, and are getting ready to bloom now.
This year I ordered a few more things: daisies, ornamental grass, lobelia and a hosta, and they arrived exactly when I asked them to and in great shape. The plants promise to do as well as last year's sale plants. I would definitely order from Bluestone again.
On May 21st, 2009, revclaus added the following:
Nothing but glowing comments for my Bluestone orders this year. They've increased the size of some of their plants -- much appreciated -- and they're always packed extremely well. My newest plants are up and growing, beating out all the competition (except for Rosy Dawn coleus plants!).On February 12th, 2012, revclaus changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
I loved Bluestone and was thrilled to see the new coir pots. But when I checked into the website earlier this year and discovered the pricing that went with the new pots I was crushed. I'm a widow on a small fixed income and can no longer afford to buy from Bluestone. As with many of the other negative comments about the price change, the value at Bluestone was the ability to buy three perennials at a low price even if I did have to wait a year for the plant to catch up to the pricier plants at other garden centers and online sources. So now I'll be shopping locally where I can still get smaller plants at a lower price.
I'm sure they've invested a lot of money in their new system, so I don't think they'll have any way of reversing course given the negative feedback from so many long-time users. It's a shame, because they filled a niche market need. But now only the well-off can purchase there.
Last year's plants were awesome and did very well. I'm sad that Bluestone can no longer serve my needs.On May 8th, 2013, revclaus added the following:
I bought a clematis in 2011. When it arrived it was dry and falling out of the pot. Bluestone sent me another. It did not do well, so they replaced it again. They didn't have to do that so I was appreciative. But it was a much smaller pot like they used to send. It did all right last year but this year not so much. Weather related: we had two days of 9 degree weather and three blizzards in late April and early May. Everything on the vine died but there are some shoots coming up. I had also bought gaillardia plants which were awesome last year and the year before. Also some campanula which are doing well. Bluestone is the place where I will buy perennials, but that will always be smaller than if I buy them locally. The beauty of Bluestone is the variety available.
I ordered a clematis "Royalty" a year and a half ago, and it died. Bluestone sent me a replacement last spring, and the poor thing is struggling so badly, I almost want to put it out of its misery. It is still less than 6 inches tall. Meanwhile, the clematis I ordered from Brushwood Nursery grows like a weed every year. I am done with Bluestone - their quality is just not as good as it used to be.
On Apr 8, 2013, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
We are so sorry to hear that neither of the Clematis Royalty that we sent did well for you. If you would be in touch directly, we can refund your money, or send any other plant selection of your choice. We would like the opportunity to regain your trust. Please give us the chance to do so? 1-800-852-5243 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Apr 16, 2013 4:10 PM, Bluestone Perennials added:
Thank you for being in touch and allowing us to resolve this per your wishes."
I have ordered from Bluestone many times in the past because I loved their "3 small plants" pricing structure. I emailed them and complained to when they announced their change to the new coir pots and increased their prices. They said the plants would be significantly larger than they used to be in the 3 packs. But I ordered this spring, and they're not. Now, Bluestone is charging as much for small plants as I pay for significantly larger plants at my local nurseries. So I won't be ordering from them again unless I find something really unusual in their catalog. It's too bad -- they're reputable, nice people. But they've lost a good customer.
Posted on March 10, 2012, updated May 18, 2012
Posted on September 23, 2011, updated March 10, 2012
Posted on August 8, 2011, updated September 23, 2011
Posted on June 4, 2011, updated August 8, 2011
Posted on June 4, 2011, updated June 4, 2011
Posted on September 24, 2010, updated June 4, 2011
Posted on April 13, 2010, updated September 24, 2010
Posted on June 15, 2003, updated April 13, 2010
I placed my first order with Bluestone this year, and am very pleased. Their small perennials are already almost as big as the ones I bought in the local garden center this spring. And, though I was skeptical about the shrubs, they surprised me. I planted the three tiny shrubs - a weigelia, butterfly bush, and white forsythia - in big pots to let them grow a bit before planting them out this fall. Already, they're turning into nice-sized shrubs, and the weigela actually bloomed this spring. After some miserable experiences with some other (reputable) mail order companies lately, it's nice to find a company that does it right the first time
On April 13th, 2010, AS added the following:
Since my first order, I've ordered nearly every year from Bluestone. They are just plain consistently good. This year, I'm starting a new garden with their plants. Tiny though they are, I know from years past that they'll do very well and impress me even their first year.
On the rare occasions that I've had to ask their customer service dept. for a replacement plant or two (mainly for plants smashed in transit by UPS), they have been excellent. On September 24th, 2010, AS added the following:
Just wanted to add that that a wide variety of their perennials survived, and even thrived, during the summer-long record heatwave. (what someone said about their plants being part-cactus must be true. :) ) Most even grew quite a bit. The catmint, salvia, hardy geraniums and gaura, which arrived in their usual tiny pots, are already almost full size. Their salvia actually outgrew a much bigger plant I transplanted from my old garden. Bluestone's plants have always done well for me, but this summer was really a test of plant health. They came through with flying colors.On June 4th, 2011, AS added the following:
My two orders this spring (regular spring order and clearance sale purchases) were fine as usual, and everything is thriving, except one plant that was eaten by a critter (it happens).
It's probably too late to help, but I wanted to share my method of dealing with the peanuts in case anyone still has an order coming. I always remove the plants from the peanuts, instead of the peanuts from the plants. In other words, I go into the garage or the laundry room, fish around and find a pot, pull it out, shake plant to remove any stray peanuts, set plant on floor. Repeat until all plants are out, then dive into the peanuts for the plant tray, turn it sideways, pull it out, and replace the plants in the tray. I end up with almost no peanuts on the floor, and it takes 5 minutes.
Actually, I had a persistent peanut that wouldn't come loose on the mock orange this last order - until I realized it was actually a bud. Surprisingly, that tiny plant has burst into bloom. The shrubs do seem to vary quite a bit - from more-or-less sticks to well-branched (and now blooming) shrubs. On June 4th, 2011, AS added the following:
My one fear with the new packing system is that shipping costs will go up. The peanuts were cheap, and worked, so I didn't mind them (except for feeling slightly guilty about the ecological impact).On August 8th, 2011, AS added the following:
Just received my new Bluestone catalog, and I'm disappointed. I liked this company because I could fill new borders inexpensively with lots of healthy plants that grew fast. But all of their plants now seem to be sold in what used to be their "large pot" (3.5" square) size - though now 4" instead of 5" deep. Plants I could have bought this spring at 3 for $14-16 are now $8-$9 apiece. This also makes their shipping charges correspondingly higher per plant. As an experienced gardener, their coco fiber pots are no great inducement - I have nothing against them, but I've planted hundreds of plants from plastic pots without losing them. What a pity - Bluestone really was the backbone of my garden for many years. I'll still order from them, but only the occasional plant.On September 23rd, 2011, AS changed the rating from positive to neutral and added the following:
I didn't want to downgrade them from positive based just on the price increase, but now...
I am not at all impressed by the new coco pots, which are very soft and flexible (not at all like the firmer "peat" pots I use for starting tomatoes). The plants arrived with very dry soil - a good bit of it was loose on the bottom of the box instead of in the pot, one plant was starting to wilt, and the first thing I had to do was find a bag of potting soil to refill the pots. (so much for having fixed their shipping problems).
Since so much of the soil was gone, it was easy to see the roots. One plant had roots that would have approximately filled one of their old (small 3-pack size) pots - they were nowhere near the sides of the bigger coco pot. The root system was better on the other two, but the plant size still didn't justify the big increase in price. I would much rather have had their old "large size" plastic pots. At least, the root balls used to fill the pot if I splurged on those instead of getting the 3-packs.
It will also be harder to keep the coco pots moist until I have time to plant. And I don't trust the fibers not to wick moisture out of the soil, so I'll have the bother of cutting off the tops of the pots.
In a nutshell, I'll be looking for another supplier for most plants. On March 10th, 2012, AS changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:
Unfortunately, I can no longer recommend this company, since that would be based solely on their past performance. Especially not for fall planting. I received one variety last fall that was a vigorous grower. It had decent roots and did OK in spite of the awful sawdust-like "soil" Bluestone is now using with the coco-pots - that one is coming back this spring. The more delicate plants simply disappeared over the winter. And it's not the site - I was so disappointed last fall, that I went and bought a similar variety from a local grower. It did well, and never even went fully dormant over this mild winter (sheltered site). So I'm not sure their new pots are all that wonderful with less vigorous plants. (Admittedly, this conclusion is based on just a few plants.)
And I have to agree with others - in these tough economic times, Bluestone's new business model of only selling much more expensive plants did not go over well with me, either.
To be fair, though, regarding one earlier comment from me - their coco pots were no longer as impossibly floppy after they had been rehydrated. That was apparently from the severe drying they experienced in transit.
So I've gone from "maybe a few plants" to becoming another former customer.On May 18th, 2012, AS added the following:
Just to let people know, I recently dug up one of the coco pots from last fall, and there were only minimal signs of decomposition so far (approx 8 months). I had planted it intact, except for cutting the top off. It was still completely solid and looked like it did when I received the plant, though a few coco fibers were visible on the outside - perhaps the first signs of disintegration.
On May 17, 2012, hardyinokc Oklahoma City, OK wrote:
Posted on May 15, 2006, updated May 17, 2012
This was my first order with Bluestone. I ordered 2 of the blue satin rose of sharon. I was REALLY surpised by how small the plants were and the fact that, although they were in pots, there was no soil in the pot, and the roots were completely bare. I think both plants will probably survive, but it will take years for them to get anywhere big enough to have a decent bloom. I was very disappointed with what I received for the price paid, especially after researching Bluestone on this site prior to ordering.
On May 17th, 2012, hardyinokc changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:
Was curious about the coco pots BS has been so proud of, so I ordered 4 sedums. The plants arrived yesterday (I am very impressed with the new packaging). However, I saw no evidence that the coco pots have any significant beneficial impact on root growth. 3 of the 4 sedums had roots that barely filled 1/3 of the soil in the pots; the 4th had roots filling about 1/2 of the soil. All four plants were practically falling out of the coco pots upon removal from the packaging. Must say I am very disappointed in the root development of all four plants I received (just very glad I was able to get 3 of the 4 sedums on sale; would have been even more upset if I'd paid full price for all 4 plants, seeing the very poor root development). I can see that the coco pots are ecologically a improvement, but I do not feel that BS can honestly claim that the coco pots have any positive effect on the development of roots, otherwise the plants I received would have had much more developed root systems.
FYI, neither of the Blue Satin Rose of Sharon mentioned in my previous posting survived.On May 17, 2012, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
On May 19, 2006 10:11 AM, Bluestone Perennials added:
Please contact us so that we can reship. It sounds like your package was handled badly in shipping, as it certainly had soil when it left here. We pride ourselves on our packing, and it is possible your package was mangled and re-boxed by the carrier."
This was my first order with Bluestone Perennials and it will be my last. I received my plants today they were very small, in scraggly condition and not worth the price that was charged. I am a master gardener and frankly, I am not sure even I can help them survive. Waste of money.
On Apr 28, 2012, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
Please be in touch! Your plants are guaranteed, and we will reship or refund immediately at your request. We hope you will give us a chance to make this right, and we apologize for the condition of your shipment. We will do better if you will give us the opportunity."
Bluestone used to have a unique concept--3 packs for a reasonable price. At that rate, it was affordable to try out new plants. I'm happy that I ordered a starter garden way back when because now I can't afford to shop there anymore. For me the tradeoff of smaller plants for lower prices was terrific, as it gave me a chance to try out new plants and see if they liked my soil and climate. I grabbed the catalog this year, and WOWZA, what a change. I went to the website hoping that one could still order three packs. Nope. I can't order there anymore. Wish that they had told longtime customers about this change in store so that we could place large orders last fall. Or, why not a choice between the old size and pricing and the new size and pricing on the plants? This makes no sense to me. I found Bluestone through Dave's Garden many years ago. Now, they have no chance of rating high.
I used to love Bluestone Perennials, and, like many others here, I ordered many of their three packs to try out new varieties in my garden. What a great market advantage to offer SMALLER plant so people could try them and see how they did in their own garden. I was so disappointed this morning when I opened their catalog, to see that they are now just like all the other catalog companies out there in terms of pricing. I thought they were a great company, with excellent customer service. Several times I had to have plants replaced that didn't survive shipment, but they were always a pleasure to deal with. Now with the higher prices, there's really no incentive for me to buy with them, as I can get the same pricing at my local garden center, not pay for shipping and be able to pick my own plant. I'm sorry to see them change their policies, and I will miss them. Too bad. I'm hoping to find another company that will fill the void, but in the meantime, I'll plant more perennial seeds, I guess.
On Mar 16, 2012, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
"On Mar 22, 2012 9:04 AM, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
Dear janetgot and other concerned customers;
We’ve been growing and selling plants since 1972, and we are always searching for ways to improve our plants and service. We knew we had found a better way to grow and ship plants when we began testing a breathable pot made from coconut husk fibers. The one word our propagators kept saying was “Wow!” The plants grown in the coco pots were more vigorous and had dramatically healthier roots than plants grown in plastic pots. Plus, the coco pots could be planted directly in the ground, which eliminated transplant shock.
That, in a nutshell, is why we now grow all our plants in coco pots. It was a product quality decision. Our new plants are more than 2 ½ times larger than those grown in our previous 3-paks, so it’s not a fair “apples to apples” comparison to look at the prices of our new larger plants versus the prices of our old (much smaller) 3-pak plants. Our plants are still a great value—but now we’re selling larger plants that will provide superior performance in your yard and garden.
Please shop our competitors and compare prices and delivery fees. We think you’ll agree that Bluestone prices are very competitive. We’ve kept our shipping and handling charges the same (even though we’re shipping larger plants) because we redesigned the packaging to be more efficient.
All of that being said, I would like to apologize for the confusion we’ve caused our customers who enjoyed the old 3-paks. We know you loved these small plants—particularly because they were priced way below the market. If you choose not to buy plants from us anymore, we’re sorry to lose you as customers and we thank you for your past support. If you do favor us with an order in the future, you’ll see why we’ve made the change to our new coco pot. The plant growth is truly amazing.
Quite frankly, we have been surprised by the recent number of negative reviews on Garden Watchdog. We loved being a Top 30 company, and we plan to earn our way back into that elite ranking. We still offer the best guarantees in the business, and our customer service is second to none. When our customers start receiving and growing our plants grown in coco pots and see first-hand how well they perform, I sincerely believe that they will be happy.
We’re still the same family-owned company, and our goal is to continue to offer exceptional plants.
Bill Boonstra, Second Generation Owner and Grower
On Mar 8, 2012, LindaWillaredt Davenport, IA wrote:
Every winter, right after the holidays, I eagerly anticipate the arrival of the new Bluestone catalog so that I can begin to plan my garden for the upcoming season.
What a disappointment this year!!
Normally, I start out with my 'dream order,' and then winnow it down to what I can afford. This year, the prices went through the roof, the number of plants for the price declined from 3 to 1, so we passed through the threshold where it is no longer practical to purchase from this company.
I will have to get used to purchasing plants locally. Probably should have been doing that already to save energy.
I am a small business owner myself, and I have to wonder how a company could raise prices this much, in this economy and on an item that is optional. So sad to see a business implode like this.
On Mar 7, 2012, littlegray46 Point Roberts, WA (Zone 7b) wrote:
Looks like I'm not alone here. I, too, was a long-time customer of Bluestone Perennials, placing orders twice a year. While the plants were small, the prices were great, and they came in 3-packs, and they were healthy & living. In 2012, the prices increased, the price was for a single plant, and then when my plants arrived, they were the same very small perennials and shrubs. I detected no difference in the size I had gotten for years and what I was now getting. Whats more, for the first time, I had two varieties that arrived dead on arrival. So-o-o-o, it would seem the great new pots were not that great a deal after all, and I was getting the same tiny little plants, not arriving in as good a condition and at a much increased price. Now, my Bluestone catalog will serve as a reference for me, and I will not be ordering from them again. Sometimes, a merchant might want to consider that there is no need to change the system at all.
I wonder whose bright idea the change was? Was it a subtle way to sell the same amount of plants at a now inflated profit, thus increasing the bottom line? Is there a new owner? Why on earth would they alienate so many of us long-time customers?
I just got off the phone with a Bluestone representative after asking that my name be removed from their mailing list. The representative was most helpful, as they always have been. The new prices, though, are unconscionable. Since I like to plant in groupings, one of the things I loved about Bluestone was that I could order three little plants at a time for a very reasonable price. I'm patient in my garden. I don't mind waiting for little things to mature. For the price I'd have to pay now for three plants, I'm better off going to my local nursery, which carries a wonderful variety of native plants, and saving the postage.
I can appreciate that the larger plants now come in biodegradable pots, but I always recycled or reused the little 3-paks. And if using biodegradable pots is expensive, I can't wait until my electric bill goes up 30% from using renewable energy. Saving the planet, one middle-income household at a time.
On Feb 6, 2012, l_m_stephenson Saint Louis, MO wrote:
Posted on April 30, 2010, updated February 6, 2012
The plants were were in pretty good shape even though they were on the small size. As this is a mail-order company, small plants are to be expected (who wants to pay the shipping on a gallon container!) and they all look exceptionally healthy. There is plenty of new leaves emerging and very good root systems.
Only one plant did not come (the burning hearts bleeding heart) due to a backorder.
I am very pleased with this order and will definitely be back (and since they send many many coupons with the order and I will probably be tempted back sooner rather than later!
On February 6th, 2012, l_m_stephenson changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
I'm giving up on Bluestone. Many of the plants I ordered last year died (the 2 oakleaf hydrangeas I ordered were VERY poorly rooted and died very quickly). I didn't have much death from any of the other vendors I ordered plants from (and I ordered plugs!) Since the quality of the plants seems to be declining and the prices went through the roof, I'll support other nurseries.
I was surprised when I opened the 2012 catalog and saw the price and quantity changes. Comparing prices to last year's order, I see I would be paying 33% to 60% more per plant. I don't need to start with larger plants, I don't mind the packing peanuts, and I don't trust biodegradable pots. What I DO mind is suddenly paying $22.50 per 3 plants instead of $13.95 (or less). I can't afford that increase.
I'm going to have to go in 3 directions now. First, use more of the plants I have that can be divided every few years or that spread gradually. Second, use more annuals grown from seed (I have a very nice light stand). Third, buy plants from local "big box" stores. I probably will not be placing an order with them this year. If I do, it will be for just 1 each of a few different plants that can be divided in the future.
I have no doubt that Bluestone will continue to provide the fine quality plants, excellent replacement policy, and great customer service, but I still have to consider this a very negative change.
I made a good sized order on plants and was OK with them when they arrived but not really excited because they looked puny and sickly. Not surprisingly they died very shortly. I won't be ordering from them again.
On Jan 23, 2012, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
"On Jan 23, 2012 4:02 PM, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
Sorry you waited so long to speak up, jhughbanks. Your guarantee is still in effect, so give us a call (or an email) and let us know what you lost. We will refund or reship (starting in late March) at your preference. You will love the new size!"
On Jan 21, 2012, warrennj Great Meadows, NJ wrote:
Posted on May 27, 2010, updated January 21, 2012
I have placed several orders with Bluestone and have had nothing but excellent results. If there is one negative it is that the shrub plants tend to be on the very small side, but they are in excellent condition and thrive once planted. This is a company I recommend to everyone.
On January 21st, 2012, warrennj changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
I hate to do it but I have to change my rating. After many years of doing business with Bluestone I was very saddened to see my 2012 catalog. Gone are the great prices for small plants and now comes the high prices for "bigger" plants. What made this company so attractive was being able to buy multiple plants of the same species at a reasonable price. Those "small" plants were perfect, they always arrived in great condition and always caught up to the larger plants I bought locally by the end of the season they also allowed me to plant larger groupings of the same plant at a reasonable price. It is sad to see a nursery that filled a perfect niche decide to become just like all the rest.
On Jan 16, 2012, Skypilot3474 NELLYSFORD, VA wrote:
I'm really disappointed with Bluestone. I bought perennials from them for years, but their prices have gone up on the plants I was going to order this spring a huge 60%! My 12 plant order would have increased about $30 from last year's catalog.
They say they're sending larger plants! I don't want larger plants. The smaller plants they send grow into sizable plants the first year. Expensive biodegradable pots? I'm not going to pay for those. I reuse the plastic ones over and over again and then recycle them.
I understand the rise in medical costs as part of their increases, but I sure won't help them pay for their other uneconomical decisions. I'll deal with unruly peanuts if I have to in order to save money. People are hurting out here, but Bluestone doesn't get it. Were they bought out or something? Something went wrong there.
By the way if you post your grievances at Gardenweb, forget it. They'll delete your complaint.
Posted on October 18, 2008, updated January 16, 2012
Bluestone P. is amazing. The plants are always in perfect condition and well-packed and shipped on time. It is also one of the few companies that has managed to keep their prices reasonable and even low! While other nurseries have suddenly started charging (understandably) $8.00 and more for 4 in pots, you can still order 3-packs of perennials from Bluestone at reasonable prices. This year I ordered from one of the top 30 and from Bluestone for same plant, different varieties. Bluestone had 3-packs 3 for $15 and the other (shall remain nameless as I can't really blame them for charging more in this economy and with rising shipping costs) charged $7-8 per 4-inch pot. Bluestone's 3-packs were beautiful, healthy plants with seriously healthy roots. The other 4-in pots were disappointing for $8 plus postage: they had stick-ons that said "careful, shallow roots." Although it's possible that was because of the plant, I have to say I was disappointed to get $8 plants with barely established roots. We'll see how they do next spring.
Hugely recommend this company. Always have a good selection, prices can't be beat, and customer service is excellent.
On October 18th, 2008, crocus1 added the following:
Almost forgot, the ONLY company I order from so far who offers to recycle their peanuts for shipping credit. Good for you.On January 16th, 2012, crocus1 changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
Sad to see Bluestone price themselves out of business. Yes, the plants are excellent, but the real draw was the 3-pack good pricing for GOOD healthy SMALL plants. Telling customers how thrilled we'll be with the bigger healthier plants is missing the point. You were the only nursery that I could afford to buy plants from in bulk. Now I can't. I am happy to see biodegradable pots, but you should keep the 3-packs OR get the pot company to produce 3-pack biodegradable that can be cut/pulled apart. Can't be that difficult. Again, an increase in price is understandable, but 60%!!! Very unreasonable. I prefer to give my money to nurseries, but now will be forced to buy from a local grocery store that supplies 4 in pots for under $4. At least in 2011, they did. If Bluestone is going to price up to match regular mailorder nursery prices, there is no point in going mailorder. The local grocery orders from local wholesale nurseries, so I don't feel bad about supporting them per se. But I do feel sorry that Bluestone Perennials that had a GREAT huge inventory of plants not available locally is now too expensive for me. I may still order 1 or 2 of these unavailable plants, but will no longer buy in bulk. Too bad as Bluestone is a great company and their SMALL plants were as healthy as 4 in elsewhere. I was willing to wait for them to grow in. Most gardeners would be, and I see from other comments that you are hugely disappointing a major portion of your customers. Maybe you will survive but you will lose those of us who valued you as a company that provided options for those of us who don't have tons of extra money to buy plants. Last year I couldn't afford any and this year--finally--I had planned to buy hardy geraniums and other perennials from you. Will have to find another source. Sad. I will keep an eye on your 50% sales, but it's ridiculous to have to check every week for what MIGHT be on sale. And impossible to plan a garden that way. For you all to tell us to check the sales if we can't afford big plants is a big ... well, the polite thing is to say, I guess you don't care about your lower income customers and maybe you are looking to enter a higher income market anyway. Sad and somewhat disappointing in an old established nursery. Heirloom Bulbs has been struggling and god knows their prices are high, but whenever possible, they give discounts on bulbs that are particularly abundant. They are ALWAYS thinking of their customers first and understand that gardening is a luxury for most people who are currently struggling in this economy.
On Jan 16, 2012, seedreemer Springfield, MO wrote:
I've ordered from Bluestone several years in a row now, but this year I'll be looking elsewhere. Bluestone filled a much needed niche with their small plant sizes for such affordable prices. I've never minded waiting for my plants to grow, and it was a delight to be able to obtain so many varieties to experiment with.
In addition, I'm not interested in shelling out my hard earned dollars to help Bluestone line "Big Eco's" deep pockets.
I hope all that eco-green propaganda keeps you warm at night, Bluestone.
How can Bluestone justify selling the butterfly garden that was $59.95 in December 2011 at $165.00 in January 2012? At first I thought it was a mistake, or a larger/different butterfly garden with more plants. Imagine my surprise & dissapointment to realize its the same package. That's an additional $106.00! How can you justify this?
I understand gas prices are up and that price increases are due to happen. But a 60% price increase? Thanks but no thanks, I'll be taking my business elsewhere.
On Jan 11, 2012, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
"On Jan 13, 2012 9:45 AM, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
Before you leave us, please consider watching our video showing the new larger size in direct comparison to our previous size. Our new pot holds a plant that is 2-3 times the size of the our previous 3-pak size. The environmental friendliness of the coir pot is a nice bonus, but the new larger size / larger plants are the real plus. We know things are tight, and we are continuing our deeply discounted specials, reward coupons, and early order promotions to help. The video link is above and it is also viewable on our home page http://www.bluestoneperennials.com We hope you will reconsider and stay."
Sorry Bluestone, maybe your prices are OK with some customers - but not with me. At a time when people are having a hard time buying food for their tables you have eliminated the 3 packs at reasonable prices and replaced them with single plants in single pots whose prices plus shipping are exceeding my comfort level.
Please do not tell me I should have checked neutral! I was anything but feeling neutral after I anticipated and viewed your new catalog!.
You have lost another customer. I will start my own plants from seed and get many more choices than you offer! And I won't go broke in the process!
On Dec 12, 2011, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
"On Jan 3, 2012 3:36 PM, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
Thank you for the honest feedback, yukons_mom. We would never want you to check neutral if you were not feeling neutral. We are truly sorry if you have left us as a customer, but please allow me to mention a few cost saving options. Keep an eye on our specials - often at 50% off - that change every week to 10 days. In addition, we allow you to "build" an order thru the season by adding on to the same order and saving on shipping costs. Our shipping rates are lower than our competitors; an additional help. We then send coupons with orders that can help lower the cost of future purchases. I hope these ideas will help to keep costs down for you and that you will still consider our plants for your garden."
On Dec 10, 2011, Gsdperson Miller Place, NY wrote:
It was with much anticipation that I received Bluestone Perennials latest catalog, and with great disbelief that I saw the outrageous price hikes. While I am supportive of biodegradable pots (local garden stores have had them for years), I don't believe this justifies tripling the price of common varieties of plants that, quite honestly can be easily (and now MUCH more cheaply) be obtained elsewhere. How can your company substantiate charging $165.00 for the SAME butterfly garden that was $59.95 two months ago? As a loyal customer who has purchased from Bluestone for quite a few years, and has frequently recommended the company to family and friends, I am disappointed that in light of today's economy, a decision like this would be made. I unfortunately will not be purchasing from Bluestone anymore.
I have been a repeat customer for years and have always been excited when the new catalog arrives. This year, the prices of the first two items I wanted had gone up an average of 64%. How dumb do they think I am? I threw the catalog away and will support my local nurseries in the future. Good bye Bluestone.
On Nov 7, 2011, mspencer1818 Salt Lake City, UT wrote:
Posted on November 7, 2011, updated November 7, 2011
Like many commentators here, I am very disappointed by the changes at Bluestone Perennials. I was shocked to see the hike in prices represented by the new catalog. In the past, I have made a real point to always search out Bluestone Perennials whenever I have been in the market for new plants. My husband and I are young homeowners, and Bluestone was a place where I could purchase items on a budget. Although I knew it meant waiting for smaller plants to grow, it was a real way to fill in a large yard for a family without a great deal of disposable income. This was the niche, the very needed niche, Bluestone filled. I have spent hundreds of dollars over the past few years with a company I felt was performing a real service, and making gardening more affordable for the average person.
I think Bluestone has done a bad thing for their loyal customers. I love the idea of biodegradable pots (although in the past, I have enjoyed using Bluestone's three packs to begin my own vegetable plants for the garden - my own personal recycling program), and I can understand the need to raise prices from time-to-time. But to raise prices so much, all at once - I simply don't get it. I am not generally one to complain about this sort of thing, but this was so egregious and unexpected that it really got my goat.
Now, it will take longer for me to fill my garden. That's OK. I will be doing something that I would encourage others to do as well - start shopping at your local nursery. Why pay the same price (and more with shipping) to a mail-order nursery when you can support a local business? Plus, you can see the plants and make real choices about plant health, etc.
I am sorry to see the changes at Bluestone. I will miss the company I really used to adore and recommend to others.
On November 7th, 2011, mspencer1818 added the following:
I wanted to add something more after thinking a bit. I read in several reviews where those of us who are giving the increased prices and change of focus a negative review were being taken to task for this. Instead, we are asked only to rate plant size, health, and customer service.
As I stated in my earlier review, I very seldom post negative reviews of companies. I do appreciate that prices need to rise from time to time, and I appreciate that companies need to make changes to adapt to maketplaces, etc. When I have received damaged or mislabled plants from Bluestone, I have always been happy to contact their customer service department, and have never made an online complaint my first choice for dealing with issues.
But this was no small or even moderate price hike, And, frankly, in my opinion, Bluestone abandoned many long time customers. This IS a customer service issue, although it is related to company philosophy rather than to replacements or plant guarantees. I do take posting a negative review seriously, and I DO stand behind this one. On Nov 7, 2011, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
"On Nov 10, 2011 9:17 AM, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
Sorry to hear of your disappointment with our discontinuing our 3 pak line, and our pricing. It is a decision we did not reach lightly. Moving to an earth friendly product does cost more to produce. (There is a reason why everyone uses plastic!) We realize we are ahead of most nursery companies, but we feel strongly that removing all the plastic from our packages it is the right thing to do.
On our pricing, we left our larger pot and shrub size pricing unchanged and now offer a new price break for 3 or more of a variety. Our varieties that used to be in 3-paks did come up in price as the coco-pot is almost 3 times the root zone size and requires double the greenhouse space to produce. Now that we have all our plants in just one size it has allowed us to rid our packaging of those dreaded shipping peanuts, and with the use of pots instead of 3 packs, customers can now purchase in any plant quantity they wish.
Please shop our competitors and compare prices and delivery fees. We think you will quickly see that they are experiencing the same pressures that we are experiencing. If you find a new supplier and we’ve lost you – then we’d like to thank you for your past support. If you do favor us with an order in the future, you’ll see why we’ve made the change to our new 100% biodegradable coco pot. The plant growth is amazing. You’ll also find that we are still the same people, growing a great product, with the same exceptional level of customer support.
On Oct 14, 2011, bottlegreen Saint Paul, MN wrote:
Two years ago I ordered 12 Lobelia 'Ruby Slippers' from Bluestone. The very small plants arrived in the fall, and only 6 survived. But those 6 were so lovely that I didn't complain and promptly ordered 3 more. These were specimens I wouldn't even have given away to anyone (limp, yellowish, fragile); they didn't come through the winter, and this time I did complain, choosing their offer of replacement instead of refund. They're obviously having trouble with this plant. I got a check for $12.50 (less than the cost of the plants) and a coupon. I remember when Bluestone sent you tiny but healthy and very cheap plants. Now they cost what you'd pay anywhere and are measly specimens, at least in my experience (the wedding phlox didn't survive either).
Just received th Heuchera I ordered and was thoroughly disappointed. Their new packing was used and my plant roots were all dried up in fact it fell out of that "pot" and I had dusty dry dirt all over my floor. Unhappy,may not order again.
On Sep 3, 2011, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
Please be in touch with our office as your plants are guaranteed and we can reship or refund as you see fit. We have made some 'tweaks' to our packaging and what you experienced should not happen again."
On Aug 15, 2011, dixiedumplin Riceville, TN wrote:
I have always been so pleased that I could buy healthy (but small) plants that fit into my budget. I was very content to wait for the small plants to take off and make beautiful large plants. No more! If I had the money to shop at Bluestone I might as well go to my local nursery and not have to wait for plants to be shipped. I'm sorry that Bluestone ignored those of us on small budgets and fixed income.
Posted on October 17, 2006, updated August 12, 2011
I would like to give kudos to Bluestone Perennials. I recently ordered one of their pre-planned gardens. Not only was I really impressed with the shipping speed, but I also appreciate that the plants are a perfect size for transplanting. I'm really quite pleased and will continue to purchase from Bluestone. I have no doubt that I will have lots of blooms next spring!
On August 12th, 2011, kofi19 changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
Yikes! The price increase is huge- and I will not be able to order from Bluestone this fall - and very sorry to say that since they have been so great in the past. The new rating is based entirely on price- not service or quality.
This company needs to go from the Top 5 to the -5 category for the biggest unrealistic price increases ever!!!! Check out the differences between the Spring and Fall catalogues! Price for the Drought Tolerant Garden in Spring was $159.95...and now folks, don't drop off your chairs, but it is a whopping $445.00. I thought it was printed incorrectly...but no...that's what it really is! ....they say it's because they are providing new pots....I say...leave things well enough alone and provide decent prices that the majority of people can afford!! I am very sorry to say...that's the end of it for me with this company...I will look elsewhere and will urge other customers to do the same.
I have previously and recently ordered from Bluestone and have had a very positive experience. However, I recieved by Fall Catalog yesterday and they have DRAMATICALLY increased thier prices, and eliminated the popular "3 for x$" feature. Part of the Bluestone appeal was the wonderful value, now they want you to pay half (or more) of the "3 for" price for one plant.
I've shopped with BP for several years, and never had a problem until now. I'm posting a negative revew here because my emails to BP are not being answered in a timely fashion, and they owe me money.
On Saturday May 14, I ordered several plants from them, and used the free shipping coupon that I had from sending back previous packing material. My credit card was not charged until May 18, and the plants were shipped the same day, arriving on Sat May 21.
My purpose in placing the order on a Saturday was so the order would process on Monday and hopefully ship the same day, arriving by Wed, before our streak of cool weather turned hot again. Their delay in shipping meant my plants traveled via USPS trucks in 90F weather to my house. Of the 7 plants I ordered, 4 arrived half-dead and another has died since arrival, despite my precautions.
I had to email them twice to get a response on my refund request. I was told by Pat at BP that she would refund the agastache and the liatris. That was May 24. It's now June 2 and no refund has appeared, and my reminder email of May 27 is still unanswered. If Pat said on May 24 she would refund the $$, why was the refund not processed the same day? That makes no sense to me.
This is not normal behavior for Bluestone Perennials, and I am deeply disappointed that they are not living up to their usual high standards. Maybe seeing this review will wake them up.
On Jun 2, 2011, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
"On Jun 2, 2011 9:34 AM, Bluestone Perennials responded with:
Our apologies for the delay in the processing of your credit. We submitted the credit on the day you requested it, but thanks to your input, we have discovered a handful of credits that were "stuck" with our new credit card processing company. These are now "un-stuck" and you should see the money for your credit in the next 2-3 days (normal processing time on their end - and it is worth noting that that is a standard time frame with any processor). You may be able to see it being processed if you view your credit card account online as early as today. Again, our apologies.
Regarding your first shipment - our shipping time online acknowledges that your plants will reach you within 2 weeks of receipt of your order. However, if you (or anyone) would like to request a specific shipping day, there is a place to enter that in our checkout sequence, and we will honor it. "