On Aug 18, 2014, LarryR South Amana, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:
Posted on August 18, 2014, updated August 18, 2014
Posted on August 17, 2014, updated August 18, 2014
Posted on August 13, 2014, updated August 17, 2014
I\\\\\\\'ll preface my comments by saying that I have been a longtime customer of PDN and that I admire Tony Avent\\\\\\\'s accomplishments and goals.
My problem is with quality control. In the past I\\\\\\\'ve always been impressed with the size and quality of plants I have received. Unfortunately, this spring was an exception. I ordered three plants of the same species and received them jostled out of their pots, dry, and slightly wilted. The reason for this was that the plants were barely three inches tall (mature plants are 18\\\\\\\") with a very small root system. I would have expected this from Michigan Bulb Company, but not from Plant Delights. They were potted in 3.5\\\\\\\" pots that were much too large. Had the plants been larger and had the root system filled much of the pot, there would have been no problem. These plants should never have left the greenhouse. I was charged the full price of $14 each.
I note that a similar problem has been mentioned before in these reviews.
Like several other reviewers, I also received no response to my emails, so I called instead. The lady I spoke to was very accommodating and happy to make things right. I questioned her about the reason I hadn\\\\\\\'t had a response to my emails. She said that they have been having computer problems. That would make this the second year that that reason has been given for lack of response. I would like to urge PDN to get its electronic systems in order ASAP. The bad PR that this situation generates could endanger their customer base.
On August 17th, 2014, LarryR added the following:
These comments are in response to Virginia Meehan\\\'s reply to my earlier post here.
I posted my comments AFTER I had contacted Plant Delights because the gardening community needs to know that the problems I referenced are ongoing (see also other posts in this comment forum). In the interim, I received an email from Virginia. It detailed the problems Plant Delights is experiencing but offered no detail about resolving the problems, how they would go about doing that, or when they expected some sort of resolution.
Here is an excerpt from my response to Virginia\\\'s email:
Virginia—Thanks much for taking the time to explain your problems in more detail. Would it be possible to assign someone the duty of checking the junk mail folder once a day? Would Anita be willing to do this? Or a volunteer? If done daily, the task wouldn’t be so onerous.
While I sympathize with your nursery manager, he needs to find out how to grow Euphorbia corollata to a decent size before it’s made available for sale. I have received this same plant from other mail order sources, and the plants were a very nice size, certainly a lot larger than three inches. The three-inch plants that I received would not have survived if I had planted them in one of my beds. The established plants in those beds would have quickly overwhelmed those tiny plants...Best—Larry On August 18th, 2014, LarryR changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Owners Tony and Anita Avent have become personally involved in the problems I outlined in my earlier posts. They pledge to \"monitor all process (email, chat, written correspondence) with a more watchful eye and have restructured some roles and responsibilities to that affect.\" Regarding the Euphorbia corollata, \"Tony corroborated that it is a tricky plant in a black plastic pot in a nursery setting and will be revising his description accordingly.\" On August 18th, 2014, LarryR added the following:
I failed to add earlier that I also just received a generous credit from Plant Delights to make up for the condition of the plants I received.On Aug 18, 2014, Plant Delights Nursery responded with:
We thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention, although I must admit I am surprised that you would go to this forum AFTER speaking with someone in person today, who you've stated was happy to work with you to make things right. This particular Euphorbia is not happy growing in a small nursery container and will typically send roots straight to the bottom of the pot, but not fill in the pot. It is a tricky plant to ship successfully and is much happier if in the ground where it fills out quite vigorously.
While email is now the preferred method for most folks to communicate, email is not perfect. Email addresses can be typed incorrectly and spam & junk filters can capture all manner of correspondence, based on a particular word or phrase or attachment. Technology is great when it works, but a real pain when it does not.
As you are a long time customer, I assume you are getting our newsletters and are aware of the myriad of computer issues we've run up against this year. Our new software which was supposed to make things better has actually had a detrimental effect on our ability to service our customers at the high standards we've had for years. Please know that we are working diligently to fix these issues because we know that this has a negative effect on our customer relationships.
I hope that you will take our many years of positive interactions into consideration when making future perennial selections. Going forward, I would implore you to give us a phone call if you do not get a response by email in 48 business hours . We can't fix a problem if we don't know that a problem exists, so I thank you again for letting us know about your Euphorbia. Please let me know if you should have any additional questions or concerns.
Manager of Customer Service & Shipping
Plant Delights Nursery, Inc.
On May 13, 2013, hardyinokc Oklahoma City, OK wrote:
Posted on May 8, 2013, updated May 13, 2013
Posted on May 7, 2010, updated May 8, 2013
Posted on May 25, 2006, updated May 7, 2010
My very favorite mail order garden place. Cool plants, Good info, and great customer service!.
On May 7th, 2010, hardyinokc added the following:
Received two plant orders from PDN yesterday...all six plants were well-grown, with roots extending out of the bottom of the pots. I definitely recommend PDN to everyone. On May 8th, 2013, hardyinokc changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
placed my order the beginning of February 2013...the money was charged to my account at that time...ship date set for May 6th...May 8th no notice of order shipping, so called...was informed that my order was NOT shipping this week as one of the items I ordered was no longer available...PDN ordering policy indicates that when the payment is charged that the plants are set aside at that time, so I do not understand how a plant I ordered 3 months ago & paid for 3 months ago is suddenly not available...if PDN cannot supply the plants ordered, they should not charge when the order is placed...the customer service person I spoke with was very nice & apologetic about the situation & did agree to send a different plant as replacement for one not available...also stated that the order would ship today...also bothers me that the email I received from PDN confirming my order states I would be contacted if there was going to be any delay in shipping...I was NOT contacted about this order not shipping...c'mon PDN, get your S**T together!!!On May 13th, 2013, hardyinokc changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Received my order...changing my rating from negative to neutral as the plants arrived promptly in good condition & well-packaged...will possibly change my rating to positive if PDN actually follows their own policies on my next order
I am giving Plant Delights a neutral rating for the following reasons:
4 of the Clematis plants that I ordered in 2011 (two did not have much of a root system and did not survive the first year) the other two are tiny. I really think that they should make sure that these plants have good root systems before they sell them, the prices on these are not cheap and this company usually has good healthy plants, I don't know what happened here. I did not contact this company regarding these two clems, but I still might since it is obvious they never did come back.
However, the Peppermint Arundo grass is wonderful and is doing great, it was a good size and was healthy. I also noticed that their packing has gone downhill a little, since my orders when I lived in California.
This spring I ordered some hostas from Plant Delights. Their shipping is high and most of their plants are higher priced. However when I received my hostas they were huge. You are getting full sized mature plants from them! I would recommend them to anyone who is looking for unusual hostas!
On September 9th, 2007, jenireed changed the rating from positive to neutral and added the following:
I would like to change my review from positive to neutral. Although the hostas I recieved in spring were huge, 2 of the 3 ended up having crown rot and so now I have 1/4 of the plant I recieved. I had ordered some plants in mid-summer and again one hosta had crown rot and the lilies I ordered were so wet they rotted. I contacted them and they said their plants are better in spring and that by mid-summer their plants are pretty beat up from being in the greenhouse all summer. On September 15th, 2007, jenireed added the following:
When I paid $18 for a hosta, plus $18 in shipping I expect to get a very happy healthy hosta.
This was a hosta I paid $20 from them this spring (plus another $18 in shipping): http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j86/aka_margo/IMG_0726.jpg
To their credit when I first received this plant it was at least four times bigger than this. However it had crown rot and after most the leaves fell off this is what's left of it.
I still really enjoy reading the catalog, just won't ever order from them again.On May 31st, 2008, jenireed added the following:
Wanted to add that none of the lilium I received came up this year. They appeared rotted when I received them last year, so it really didn't surprise me that it didn't come up. I had ordered a two special rudbeckias, and both of those plants are doing fine.
My Ginsu Knife hosta I ordered in early spring last year from them is looking awesome. The rest of the hostas I received from them have actually decreased in size. So I will keep my rating a neutral. On Jul 4, 2007, Plant Delights Nursery responded with:
On Sep 10, 2007 10:35 AM, Plant Delights Nursery added:
To our DGW readers,
We always regret to discover that efforts to resolve customer disappointment remains unresolved.
I respectfully remind our customer that as stated in our July 23rd email, a replacement Lilium was approved.
If there is any promise or service we have not lived up to, please let us know so we have an opportunity to resolve those as well.
Customer Service Manager
Plant Delights Nursery, Inc."
I came to check out Brent and Becky's Bulb's ratings, as I've ordered from them for the first time and was moderately surprised to see Plant Delights Nursery (PDN) in the "Watchdog 30". Based on my experience with PDN, I would deem them highly overrated.
To put it concisely: arrogant, condescending, and overpriced.
PDN is definitely not much of a value, particularly if you live in the West. It amazes me that someone can have such seeming contempt for his customers, charge them high end prices for avarage quality, yet have them adore him all the more.
There are half a dozen nurseries that have lower ratings here that I would happily recommend over PDN, including Big Dipper Farm, Digging Dog and Kartuz. All have provided me with better quality plants at more reasonable prices. They send orders without an attitude and don’t try to impose their politics on their customers via their catalog.
My best advice is to spend 10 minutes on a search engine to a) make sure that nobody else has the plant you want and b) compare prices, especially if you're going to be induced into buying several more spendy plants to justify the big minimum shipping fee.
In some cases, you'll be truely shocked. For instance, last month I was able to get Crinum amoenum for less than $3.00 per two inch bulb. PDN? $25!
On August 13th, 2007, dubhloaich changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:
A few brief comments regarding PDN's response (ironically signed "respectfully"). First, you won't find an order from me for a Crinum because I'm not fool enough to send you $25 for a Crinum species I can get from another reputable vendor for less than a fifth of the price. Further, you won't find any orders from Scappoose, Oregon from me because I lived in Portland the one time I ordered from you. I believe that is going on five years ago. My zip code at that time was 97203, if you really want to verify that I ordered from you.
People do occasionally move.
My one order was from your website. I received a group of very average looking plants and one sad little Sarracenia ‘Ladies in Waiting’ that had several brown pitchers and one partially developed pitcher when it arrived and then never put up any additional vegetation before expiring. When I lay out $20 for a plant, I expect something viable. So, yes I HAVE HAD FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR COMPANY.
I stand by my opinion that PDN lacks in overall value (quality in consideration of price) for residents of the West Coast. Being associated with a high profile plant hunter/writer/lecturer does not turn sow ears into a silk purses in my book. Expressing my opinion that it is worthwhile to compare prices is hardly a libelous act. In fact, most people consider it the duty of an informed consumer.
Now, if I was very unlikely to ever order from you again before, I clearly won't be doing so in the future, ever. And, trust me, I have been tempted, as Mr. Avent's eye for plant collecting and development is not in question.
Finally, I feel your response here completely validates my comments regarding the general attitude of your organization. How excellent of you to provide a clear example of what folks can expect from you. I have now changed my rating to negative so as to draw attention to how you all treat people. I invite them all to read the comments from PDN's representative and ask themselves which is the bigger abuse of this forum, my initial comments or Ms. Austin's response. On August 20th, 2007, dubhloaich changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
After cooling off, I am changing the rating back to neutral. Although Ms. Austin's response seems quite impolitic considering she represents the business; my feelings regarding my past interaction and my current opinion of Plant Delights Nursery fits most closely to what Dave's Garden describes as a "Neutral" experience.
In any case, if you want to get a feel for their approach to customers, be sure to thoroughly review their ordering information page:
Pay particular attention to their guarantee policy and their “How To Be A Good Customer” statement and judge for yourself. On Jun 16, 2007, Plant Delights Nursery responded with:
On Aug 8, 2007 10:18 AM, Plant Delights Nursery added:
We have carefully checked our customer database and to the best of our knowledge, we have never sold a Crinum (for any amount) to a customer residing in Scappoose, OR. If we are in error, we would love to know what service or promise we have not lived up to that would prompt such a scathing note about our owner, our catalog, plants or service. If you receive our catalog, please let us know who you are so we can remove you from our mailing list.
If you have not had first-hand experience with our company, we view this post as an abuse of this forum and an intentional act to do us harm. This forum is a place where gardener's can post about their first-hand purchasing experiences (good or bad), not a place to launch a smear campaign. Posting unfounded negative or neutral posts about a company unjustly damages ratings and compromises the value and integrity of this forum.
In closing, we would like to say that we welcome all forum comments from our customers' who can describe their experiences with our nursery. If you have an "axe to grind" with us regarding our catalog, costs or other general non-purchase related topics, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Aug 20, 2007 9:34 AM, Plant Delights Nursery added:
We are uncertain why any customer who had a bad experience 5 years ago would suddenly find the need to disparage us this long after the fact, especially since we have none of the same shipping and customer service staff that was here five years ago when this alleged problem occurred.
During the last five years, we have continued to improve in both plant quality and customer service, which has allowed our business to continue to grow, based solely on the word of mouth of our customers.
I applaud that you have been able to find a plant cheaper than we offer it, which may often be the case when dealing with nurseries which for various reasons don't need to or know how to be profitable. Sadly, if more nurseries understood the basics of business economics, we wouldn't have lost so many wonderful (non-profitable) nurseries over the last few years. Sadly, there are people such as you, who try to make nurseries feel ashamed for covering their costs and charging what they must to stay in business. As a result, many owners simply choose to close their doors and consequently the availability of interesting plants continues to diminish.
Judging by the high number of equally acerbic posts by you on various other sites, you seem to have anger and victimization issues with which we are not medically qualified to address, but we sincerely hope you will get the help needed to enable you to better enjoy the rest of your life.
Plant Delights Nursery @
Juniper Level Botanic Garden
9241 Sauls Road
Raleigh, North Carolina 27603 USA
Minimum Winter Temps 0-5 F
Maximum Summer Temps 95-105F
USDA Hardiness Zone 7b
phone 919 772-4794
fax 919 772-4752
"I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it myself...at least three times" - Avent"
On May 5, 2007, gabriellacat Springfield, VA wrote:
I have ordered from Plant Delights for the last 5 years or so because of the unusual plants they offer. However, I have been disappointed several times because of plants that arrive looking OK but then fail not long after the short notification period during which they will replace the item. (However, when it happens within the notification period, they are good about replacing.) The latest time this happened was about 3 weeks ago with a dwarf dark elephant ears that arrived with 3 weak but seemingly alright stems. After planting (during which I noticed that it had a very meagre root system) and adequate watering, it failed, again just outside the notification period. This has happened to me about 10 times in the last 5 years and always makes me feel robbed. I've noticed that frequently the more unusual the plant, the weaker the root system. I think PD needs to grow some of its stock longer before offering it for sale.
I just got their catalog and will prob. be ordering from them sometime this year. However, I must agree that the artwork and commentary is a bit over the top and offensive (my boss particularily did not like the Gardening Jihad title on it - he is Jewish and basically banned me from having it in the store he hated it that much!) The redneck (at least I think that is what it was supposed to be) commentary at the end was just plain stupid and ignorant - and I'm a Redneck! I don't think politcal stuff should be in a gardening magazine but ... it is free speech and as long as the quality is good and the prices reasonable for what I get in return I will shop there. I just think they need to rethink their humor before they get in to real trouble.
On Aug 22, 2006, Miss_Huff Flemington, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:
I've purchased plants from PDs for years. Their plant display gardens are stunning. The plants are very healthy and the selection is superb. I've been very happy with the plants purchased there. Their free catalog is very informative. However -- the artwork and commentary in the catalog ranges from distracting to annoying to deeply offensive and their prices are very high. As much as I appreciate their expertise and terrific plant selection, I avoid them due to these factors. Too bad!
On a nearly $200 order (before shipping cost), I listed acceptable subs and with one substitution they charged me for the original total although the sub was cheaper. They sent a FORM asking me how I wanted to handle a credit for the difference between the plant ordered and the substitute. Why did they not just charge the lower amount in the first place instead of wasting their time and mine on a futzy form (that even asked for my customer number which required more futzing around to find)? The sadder part is that they also made a very incompetent phone call two weeks earlier telling me that none of my 4 listed subs matched the exact price of the one plant out of eight that was not available! There's more but I'm tired. Their plant selection and quality are great (this is my second order) but it's a bit much to put up with their prices and shipping charges and their offensive catalog humor and their "How to be a good customer" nonsense just to be confronted with time wasting incompetence.
On October 11th, 2004, oregonzone8 changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Changed my rating from negative to neutral because I recognize that PDN does great work in introducing and popularizing new plants. It's important to recognize how good customer service regularly is from other companies that charge much less, though.
I spent a lot of money for ten hellebores which arrived fine. Within a month, they started looking bad. I emailed and sent digital photos. The reply said it looked like I'd let the plants dry out (the plants never dried out) and they should be fine. A few days later with the plants continuing to fail, I dug up and took one plant to the county extension service - they told me to ask for my money back or for replacements, the plants were not healty (no specific diagnosis.) I emailed more photos, showing the plants all but dead, and asked for additional advice or a more educated guess on the problem. I haven't heard a word since - guess they were afraid I WOULD ask for satisfaction. I took myself off Plant Delights' mailing list.
I admit, this company's selection is really good, their catalog and website are even better. I ordered three plants from them in April, and received them exactly on the date I requested. So why am I rating them 'neutral?' Because:
1. Their prices are quite high (for plants that are available from other nurseries)
2. The size of my plants were small. The reviewers here say that the plants they received were of 'good size.' Well, not mine.
3. Although I had no problems with my order, the company does seem a bit arrogant in their condescending sarcasm toward the customer. Just read their catalog/website and enclosed instructions. It's full of 'don'ts.' Come on, we ARE your customers, your source of income... give us some credit here!
4. Their shipping rates were above average, too.
Other than the above 4 criticisms, I received my plants promptly, but my expectations were a tad higher. So call me picky...
On Jun 5, 2003, Sue_WA Seattle, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:
The only reason I ordered from this company was because of the high ratings it has received in the Garden Watchdog, but also because of the wonderful catalog they mailed me. Well, let me be one to rate NEGATIVE on customer service, because there is none. I placed my order for $117 on May 14th expecting immediate delivery. I received a confirmation via e-mail. The confirmation lists no delivery date. Since then? I've sent 4 e-mails requesting a delivery window. One 9 days after ordering, another 16 days after ordering, another 2 days after that and another one today, 3 days later. Am I not a GOOD CUSTOMER? All I asked was 'when can I expect delivery?' That's it! I want to make sure someone is here (since I travel frequently) to receive and take care of the plants! Have I received 1 answer to any of my e-mails? NO. No harassing e-mails on my part, just a request. What is up with this company? And of course,....my credit card has been charged. NO MORE!
On January 7th, 2004, Sue_WA changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Having been 'overheated' the day I wrote this comment, I wish to update that situation. Plant Delights wrote me several e-mails explaining that they had a change in management, which resulted in the lack of customer service on e-mails. I want to report I did receive all plants on my order, and all in excellent condition.
On Feb 23, 2003, Miggy Long Island, NY (Zone 7a) wrote:
My bro-in-law has been a happy customer for many years. (Nothing clever about their prices though). I placed my first order with them last week.
I was impressed to see that they had Iris "Roy Elliot", I sent them a letter explaining that he was my grampa and sent some info and they credited me in their catalogue, which was nice of them, I thought. And sort of fun too, look for me in there!
On February 23rd, 2003, Miggy added the following:
I should clarify that I sent the letter and such 4or5 yrs ago, and not with last weeks order.
On Jan 11, 2003, SoCal Huntington Beach, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:
I haven't ordered from this Nursery, so can't give any good or bad advice. I just want you to be aware of the high shipping costs that is charged. I picked out 4 plants for a total of $50.00 and it was going to cost $26 more to ship them to me. I won't be ordering from them.
On Jan 5, 2003, connoisseur Indianapolis, IN wrote:
As others have noted, prices are high--and sometimes the plants aren't that rare, just pricey. High shipping costs are an additional negative. But I have found quality to be good, and it is a genuine delight to read their catalog.
After reading several earlier postings with mostly great reviews I requested a catalog from the Tarheel company. It was beautiful and well written with a dry, typically North Carolinian sense of humor. I ordered 5 selections for my zone 8 garden (two verbenas, hummingbird plant, baptisia, coreopsis). All were rated for zone 8 to 9 and hardy to zone 5. They were in lovely condition when they arrived. They were well packed and the hummingbird plant was blooming. I admit that I planted a little later in the season than was optimal but I did give them a few days of slowly increased exposure to the heat and humidity and they seemed fine. The results later in the season, however, were less than I had hoped. The verbenas gave mixed results - one bloomed sparsely and one not at all. The baptisia died almost immediately and the hummingbird plant, although it grew and seemed to be happy, didn't bloom the rest of the season (it was listed as a all-summer bloomer). I will be interested to see how they perform this spring and will hopefully update my comments if the plants greatly surprise or disappoint me. I did place my order via the phone and my service rep was pleasant and knolwedgeable.
This place sure has a selection of things you might never find in any other place, no doubt about it. They have cultivars with wonderful leaf colors, or special fragrances, or they search out especially vigorous growers. They also know their plants, and try hard to provide correct information. Moreover, they provide wonderful free information through their Web site. You can read up on Hostas, or find out what you might want to know about palm hardiness. They have lots of online articles, so its sort of like having another gardening book for free.
I've ordered from them twice and both times got mostly large plants as well as one or two puny things that were not recognizable, these little guys looked like a few bean sprouts. The company responded to my email complaint by issuing a credit to my credit card; so they seem responsive in that regard. But, I always ask myself, "Why did it happen, who is in charge of quality control"?
The downside is that Plant Delights is expensive. I don't think they are way out of line, and I don't think they are gouging. But, they are mostly out of my price range and seem to charge in the upper ranges of what will carry. Maybe they need to charge extra for the usually large plants they send, or for the competent advice they try to provide.
If they have something I want I'll buy from them again, but I do find that sometimes its better to wait and connect with hobbyists in order to get some specialty items at better prices. Also, I have found that some of the bulb or native plant nurseries have some of the same plants as PDN but at better prices or with a discout offer.
Their prices are a little high but not too bad. I ordered 2 species of orchid (both Bletilla) and one came in very nice, the other was very puny, I'll be lucky if it blooms next year. I won't be rushing back.
On May 5, 2002, lupinelover Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:
After hearing from many sources the high quality and standards of this company, I called to place my first order. The phone rep was able to answer my detailed questions personally for the most part, but when I asked a couple of others that she wasn't sure about, she contacted the head grower for that plant type and got and transmitted back to me the answer.
She gave me the shipping date for the order, and was highly competent. A big difference to many other mail order places, who seem to just hire "phone minders" for their lines. Am waiting with baited breath my plants, due in 2 weeks.
On May 24th, 2002, lupinelover changed the rating from positive to neutral and added the following:
I received my order today. One ordered plant was not included due to unavailability.
Another plant ordered (a palm tree that has a subterranean trunk -- too cool) had the bottom of the trunk growing out a drainage hole in the bottom of its pot. It had been that way for a long time, since the area was very constricted to fit through the hole, and a much larger "button" on the bottom of the trunk. Had a very difficult tedious time cutting through the pot carefully to avoid damaging the trunk further. Re-potted in a bigger, roomier pot.
Notified the company and am waiting to see how the palm recovers.
Everything else included in the order arrived looking wonderful -- big, healthy growing plants that were not little "starts". One pot was filled with 25 leaf-shoots. Top quality perennials. Only doubtful was the palm.
Since I live in Raleigh I have only had experience with purchasing plants in person from the nursery, but I also get their catalogue. I guess I am spoiled because there are a number of wonderful nurseries here. Plant Delights charges almost twice as much as other area nurseries for similar sized plants and they are not always full and healthy. I bought gingers and some perennials which are doing fine, but took a good while to get going. They were quite small and the soil very moldy when I bought them.