Posted on May 5, 2015, updated July 14, 2015
Like several of the recent posts, I read these comments after already ordering 10 shrubs (3 forsythia, 4 mock orange, 3 red twig dogwood) and 2 trees (autumn flowering cherry and red maple) from the Arbor Day Foundation and boy was I rattled! Based on some of what I read, I guessed that many people had unrealistic expectations of what they were ordering, but nevertheless I was concerned I had wasted my money.
I must say, though, that what I received in the mail entirely lived up to (or exceeded) my expectation. For starters, the plants arrived promptly within a week of ordering, which was better than what I expected. With almost all of the plants I ordered being under 10 dollars (3 of them were entirely free - 2 forsythias and a red maple), I knew that all would be young saplings - essentially small sticks with roots. I mean, come on people, you get what you pay for! I\'ve got other big beautiful trees in my yard that I ordered from a local nursery and for 4 good sized trees, it cost over $800. Keep expectations in check and you may be pleasantly surprised. Both trees (sticks) were impressively large to me - about 3 ft in length. The smallest shrubs were the 2 free forsythias that were about 12\" tall, all others were between 2 and 3 ft tall.
Since many reviewers reported plants DOA, I gave all of mine a quick scratch test and all were living. Only one was questionable that had some dead branches (the forsythia I paid for), but the base was still living - will update later what did and didn\'t survive. I followed the instructions to the letter and soaked them in water around 5 hours. I planted all of them the same day and I\'m excited to say that ONE DAY LATER I already noticed small signs of new growth on a few. These are baby plants - so I intend to baby them, as should anyone ordering. Keep to a watering schedule so they aren\'t dried out and be sure the location chosen for planting is appropriate.
I felt I needed to post this to help outweigh all the negative comments. Again - I will be happy to update in the future to let you know the outcome of my purchases, but so far so good. I have other friends that have ordered trees through the Arbor Day Foundation and none have had anything negative to say. One friend drove me past the 3 trees she planted 3 years ago and all were healthy and thriving.
On July 14th, 2015, elmbelle added the following:
Update! We have had records amounts of rain here in Tulsa, so no watering schedule was needed. Every. Single. Plant. Is thriving! They are growing like crazy - even the one forsythia that had one dead twig has put up tons of growth from the base. Many have doubled and tripled in size. Both trees ordered are doing well - full of leaves. The Red Maple was a gift to my in-laws and they say it is bursting with large maple leaves. It's too bad I can't add pictures - it is impressive to see. Even my husband (who is not a gardener at all) has been shocked by how well they are all doing.
I remain one very satisfied customer! Thanks Arbor Day Foundation!
I ordered two apple trees and received a free red maple. When I ordered the trees I was given the option to have them shipped now or wait until fall planting season. I chose ship now. When I received the trees I was pleasantly surprised. The apple trees were about 3 feet tall each. I soaked them in water and planted them. The apple trees started to bud out about a week later. They are doing really good. I also planted the red maple. It was smaller but it budded out within a couple of day and its growing nicely. I am really happy with my trees. I ordered a bunch more for the fall planting season, over $200 worth of shrubs and trees. I will definetly order from Arbor Day again.
For many years, I avoided the Arbor Day Foundation because of all the negative reviews on this site. But after losing many expensive trees from local nurseries, I decided to join arbor day.org because the lower prices allowed me to plant more trees at once.
I placed two orders totaling $150. Customer service was polite and helpful. I received 50 trees including member trees and free trees and only 1 looked dead when unpacked (a hydrangea costing $2.79). The free trees and those under $3 tended to be small but healthy. The nursery trees costing $5+ were large and robust.
Despite a very hot spring in the mojave desert (86°-91°F and humidity as low as 15%) 80% of these seedlings survived, which is a higher success rate than I expected. Will certainly buy again.
On Apr 26, 2015, chancremechanic Wartrace, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:
I read all these negative reviews after ordering my plants from Arbor Day Foundation as well; however, I too was pleasantly surprised at the quality of trees that I received. My first order was for two Dawn Redwood trees and a Red Maple. The trees, although small, were healthy and in bud. The packaging was tight and well done. After a month in the ground, all three trees are doing well. My second order was for 10 Forsythia plants. I thought the plants would be tiny sticks, but lo and behold, they were all about two feet in height and well packaged. I didn't have time to plant them in their permanent location, so I planted them all in one-gallon pots, and I am happy to report a 100% survival rate as well as some of them putting out a few blooms. As an aside, I noticed that both orders came from a nursery about 60 miles from my home. I can only surmise that Arbor Day Foundation sub-contracts with local nurseries in order to supply trees that are both locally grown and healthy. I will order from Arbor day again!
On Apr 25, 2015, factorx Mount Pleasant, TN wrote:
I read these reviews AFTER placing our order for 10 Flowering Trees last fall. I would not have ordered based on what I read here, but it seems people who are unhappy are far more likely to post than the people who are happy.
It took longer to receive the trees than expected. But the trees were exactly as expected, plus the two bonus crepe myrtles. About a week later we received a second complete set, by mistake.
We left them in our garage for longer than we should have, but did get them in the ground following the instructions they include to plant them at an angle. The place we chose was close to the house to provide extra shelter, but we didn't realize it was also an area that's wet. And then we had an unusually harsh February with snow and ice on them.
It's now late April and I'm happy to report that of the 24 plants about 18 of them are doing well. We lost a couple of the dogwoods, which got the worst of the wet. And I think only 1 of the 4 crepe myrtles are OK.
It should be noted it appears we lost a couple established crepe myrtles (a couple years old each, purchased from nurseries) - too much cold for the younger ones, I guess.
Frankly, I didn't expect this success rate - and that was before reading the reviews here and not caring for them optimally! So, for $10 we have at least 18 trees with leaves that appear to be doing fine. I'm happy.
On Aug 15, 2013, cnstrxgrrl Chillicothe, IL wrote:
I went into this purchase knowing that I was not going to get large, semi-mature plants. Honestly, when one sees the low prices, one should assume that.
I ordered 100 north privet plants in March of 2012. When I was given a 'time window' of shipment, I asked to hold off until a certain date. Arbor Day did this with no problem whatsoever.
They arrived as small sticks. Some were a bit on the small side compared to others, but I planted them anyway. When a rep called me a few months later to check up on my satisfaction with the purchase, I mentioned the small ones. She placed a note in my customer file, and told me to call the next spring and report any that died over the winter, and any that were still very small. Of 100 plants, I only lost 1. Those are pretty good odds!
So, in spring of 2013, I called in with my dead shrub count, and a count of those that seemed undersized, which were about 6. These replacements were sent to me free of charge, and both times I received shipments, the plants were packed well and moist.
Overall, I am pleased with the outcome. The shrubs are growing very well, and this year they are easily double to triple the size they were last year when I planted them.
I'd recommend buying from Arbor Day, as long as you realize that you're not going to get a big tree/shrub in the mail. That is simply not realistic of any garden company, so a local nursery is the better option if you're looking for a more mature specimen.
On Jun 22, 2013, Wonsungee Saint Johnsbury, VT wrote:
In late May, I ordered 60 bare-root trees from this website for spring planting. They included 12 Sugar Maples, 20 Eastern White Pines, 6 Bur Oak, 10 Snowdrift Crabapples, and 10 Spruces (half Norway, half Colorado Blue). The trees arrived 2 weeks later, in early-mid June. This is rather late, though not too bad considering my northern position. I planted all of the trees within a week, and I have noticed many of the maples, crabapples, and pines already coming out of dormancy, and developing leaves. The oaks are exiting dormancy much more slowly, but are still very much alive. The spruces, which I planted relatively late (5 days after receiving the trees) are faring more poorly; the Colorado Blue Spruces are all doing reasonably well, but I expect all but one, maybe two, of the Norway Spruces to die. Not too big of a deal though, I have 50 more healthy trees.
Altogether I am satisfied with my experience with the Arbor Day Foundation, and will offer some tips to prospective buyers:
* The trees varied widely in condition and health; some had branches developed, others were nothing more than stalks with a few buds (or pine needles). Because of this admittedly unavoidable consequence of purchasing trees online, I would recommend assigning a priority to each planting site. Planting the more healthy, vigorous trees in a more important site, and putting the sickly trees in a temporary site to serve as potential replacements would appear to be the best option.
* The conifers in general seemed to be much more negatively effected by the shipping process than the deciduous trees. Perhaps this is due to conifers having a less pronounced dormant period, and having much more fragile root systems (my conifers were <1 ft tall, while the hardwoods were all more than 3 feet). Take special care planting them.
* The flowering trees sold on this website have been growing exceptionally well; the "Snowdrift" Crabapples I ordered were the first to develop leaves, and none demonstrate any sort of weakness.
To conclude, I would urge others to follow this advice, and keep in mind that the most important thing to do after plant reception is to ensure that the root systems of the trees do not dry up; that is a sure way to have a dead tree!
The Pros: My trees came about 3 feet tall, which I feel is appropriate for the price. I ordered around 13 fruit trees, all of which show signs of life and are growing. They came in good condition, but the hazel nut trees I ordered are still in dormancy, so I cannot say if they are alive or dead.
The cons: The 10 free oak trees I received ( a month earlier than my fruit trees) only one is showing signs of life, but the others seem healthy, and I think oak trees come out of dormancy later than other trees.
A couple of the trees rootstock were trimmed back too much IMO, although they are leafing and seem to be doing fine. I also think that the shipment came a little bit late for this area, in late may, almost June, but that is a matter of opinion.
Overall, I am very pleased since the only trees I really cared about ( the fruit trees) are doing terrific. Time will tell how they do, but I don't think I will have much of a problem. I am fairly happy with Arbor Day as they met and even exceeded some of my expectations.
I have ordered multiple small trees and plants from Arbor Day, with few complaints given their prices. Their best deal is most assuredly the 10 included trees when becoming a member for $10. One must remember that these trees are small, and this is a charity attempting to reforest the country, not send full grown trees. I have rarely had trees from Arbor Day die, and even then only in the extreme drought of summer 2012.
What Arbor Day's trees are great for is establishing roots correctly. When you buy an eight foot tree from a garden center, the roots are wrapped in a tight ball circling the inside of the pot. These roots will not spread out normally, and planting a large enough hole disturbs the soil's capillary columns. I planted a garden center oak over a year ago and it still shifts in heavy rain and wind because of its poor root structure (despite a excellent and broad planting hole) Arbor Day's trees are saplings, and their roots are not yet in balls. It is best to water them deeply once a week, or, better yet, plant them using a dew/rain collection storage device like a Groasis Waterboxx to allow them to develop deep, natural roots. Arbor Day ships according to planting schedule, which is helpful. Also, I get satisfaction in replanting the nation's forests with my purchase.
Posted on December 15, 2012, updated December 19, 2012
I just received 14 fruit trees from Arbor Day (several varietiies), and they look beautiful. I paid next to nothing for them, and many are as tall as I am. I read the reviews after placing my order, so I was actually expecting disappointment, but I'm very happy. I still haven't received the free trees - they are shipped separately. I am glad I supported this organization.
On December 19th, 2012, laurelpo added the following:
update - I received my ten free trees as well. Seriously, I have more trees than yard! The ten are between one and two feet, packaged well, and healthy looking. I am planting the dogwoods and gifting the rest.
I planted the purchased trees about a week ago, and they are doing very well so far.
I find Arbor Day Foundation to be a wonderful charity with many wonderful programs. Providing nursery stock is just one small part of what the organization does. I personally have been happy with the trees I received and plan to order from them again. About 4 months ago I ordered from them for the first time and received 3 pink dogwoods, 1 norway spruce, a snowdrift crabapple, and one free red maple. Everything arrived in good condition, and were the size advertised, except for the red maple had been snapped in half during shipping. I didn't contact Arbor Day about it since that tree was free but I planted it anyway.
Four months after they were planted, everything is doing well except the broken red maple. The dogwoods have branched out and got lots of leaves on them and have each grown about 4-6" already. The norway spruce is taking slowly but that too has grown a few inches and is starting to look good. The crabapple has grown about 6" and is doing well. The red maple is actually still alive but didn't get and leaves and looks pretty bad so I plan to replace it.
My advice when deciding whether or not to order from Arbor Day is to do so knowing your trees will arrive very small and will require patience and diligence as they establish. I am putting in a fall order for some shrubs, a peach tree, and another free red maple and hope they do as well as my spring shipment. I will update on my next order!
I had no problems with Arbor day so far. I joined and gifted a membership. I also donated another $15 for 5 rose of sharons. All the trees and shrubs had good roots and still had water with them! I see way to may people complaining about the size of the trees! What do you want for FREE. You just donated $10 to a good foundation and they give you free trees. I paid Michigan bulb for the same size trees and more than $10 for one. Both places sent me healthy bare root trees. I'm very happy with both places, I'm just saying if you didn't want a small tree than go spent around $100 for a big one and stop complaining!!
Ordered about 15 dwarf fruit trees from them. They shorted me 1 Bing Cherry last fall. I called them. They sent me another first thing this spring. I've had a few trees not make it through the winter. No problem. With online companies, this is the best one I've dealt with.
On Mar 22, 2011, JAMIESMITH Decatur, MS (Zone 7b) wrote:
Posted on December 20, 2010, updated March 22, 2011
Free is free! I received my ten free trees on Saturday and planted them on Sunday. Each tree is about a foot tall. I'm not sure how well they'll grow, but they seem to be okay right now.
On March 22nd, 2011, JAMIESMITH added the following:
Because this is a charitable organization, I won't change my rating from positve, BUT the trees are small and take much more patience than I have to take care of.
I have had nothing but great experiences with Arbor Day. 2 years ago I ordered several trees, all arrived in good packaging, and all the tree roots were still moist. Unfortunately 1 tree did not survive (peach). I contacted Arbor Day, and they sent me a free replacement, which is doing great. Last year I ordered several more trees from Arbor Day, unfortunately some didn't survive, but I called, and they will be sending me replacements this spring. GREAT customer service. As far as the "free" trees are concerned, I consider them a bonus. I order enough trees that paying the $10 for the member prices easily pays for its self versus paying the non-member prices. So by paying $10, I save money, plus get 10 extra free trees. The first year I ordered, 2 of the 10 free ones survived, last year, all of them survived. My only "complaint" is that I wish they had a bigger selection to choose from. I will definitely be ordering from Arbor Day again!
I would just like to comment on the Arbor Day Foundation in a positive light...I have been a "member" for years! I love getting the lilacs, hazelnuts, free trees, cuttings, or whatever you want to call them. I donate the $10 for the work that they do. they educate youngsters and adults alike about trees and how important they are to our environment. Maybe some of you with negative comments should rethink why you give the $10...hopefully not expecting somewhat mature nursery quality trees...these little "twigs" they send, and they are small, are just as viable as the more mature ones you buy retail, in fact somewhere along the line thats how those trees started. Its about nurturing something to grow, watching it mature. Give a "twig" to a child to nurture or donate to your local schools as part of an outdoor education program. If you want bigger more mature trees, then put your $10 with some more money and buy from a wholesale nursery. You cant expect a mature tree for $10! Look at the big picture and think about the good works their charity does!
One reason to join the Arbor Day Foundation is to get fruit trees really cheap. They are small but do grow. I have ordered peach and cherry trees that are doing as well as the 25 dollar trees I bought at a local garden center. The Arbor Day trees were only 4 dollars. The 10 free trees are just a thank you and aren't really that great but do grow most of the time. I wouldn't send them money for the free trees. The Arbor Day Foundation is a charity that has done much to educate about the importance of trees. They were instrumental in educating farmers about shelter belts and in reforestation in this country. It has four stars from the Charity Navigator website and is a Better Business Bureau accredited charity.
On Oct 10, 2010, cris23464 Virginia Beach, VA wrote:
Why do I support the Arbor Day Foundation?
1. This is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity that donates time, effort and money to reforesting our National Parks, teaching children about the importance of trees through the "Nature Explore Classrooms" program, and encouraging adults to create a better living environment through the "Tree City USA" program. It is also working to train inhabitants of Central America's rain forests in improved agricultural and conservation skills so that they can continue to live as they traditionally have without leaving a huge negative impact. It's not all about the free stuff.
2. 90% of the trees I have received have lived. The free trees are tiny but do grow. My only problem was identification through the color-coding.
3. The newsletters help broaden my knowledge of trees.
4. I feel good doing my little part to repair this planet.
I have donated to the Arbor Day Foundation for several years now. They send me the twigs in the mail and, believe or not they actually grow most of the time. Yes, they are just little tiny trees, but if you dig a deep hole and put the little guys in there with some good potting mix, you'll be surprised how well they will do. Many of my trees looked completely dead the first year, but the next summer suddenly started growing. Don't give up on the little guys. Keep watering. I have also ordered fruit trees from them with AMAZING success. I have 2 apple, 2 pear, and one peach tree. They are beautiful and grow by, literally, feet every year. By the second year my peach tree was producing fruit. I think this foundation is definately worth the donation regardless of the tiny twigs they send you. And if you are willing to purchase a few trees from them, I doubt you would be disappointed. I have always had excellent experiences with them.
On Jan 9, 2010, flowers4birds Chilton, WI (Zone 5b) wrote:
It must have been at least 20 years ago or more that we sent a donation to the National Arbor Day Foundation and received our 10 tiny twigs. They were pathetic and not what we expected at the time. Some of the species were not hardy in our zone 4 climate so we never expected them to grow.
One was supposed to be a Flowering Dogwood which definitely is not hardy here, but to our surprise it grew. That is because it was NOT a Flowering Dogwood at all, but a Silky Dogwood; a much branched shrub that would have clusters of tiny flowers if it ever bloomed, but it never has. The many long slender twigs would be suitable for basket-making if I were into basketry. We've cut it down many times, but it always comes back again as healthy as ever.
There were a couple of tiny blue spruce that grew just fine and if we'd ever got around to moving them out of the garden nursery they would be beautiful trees by now. The spruces and dogwood are no longer thriving well having been shaded out by the gorgeous oak tree that grew from the tiny white oak seedling they sent us. It turned out to be a Swamp White Oak which is perfect for the moist garden where we planted it. It is now a big tree bearing an annual crop of acorns eagerly foraged by the local deer. It is now many times bigger than the large Swamp White Oak we paid big bucks for at a local nursery.
My positive rating is for all the fun we had watching that oak tree grow and waiting for acorns so we could identify what species of oak it is. The species of dogwood we had never seen before was also interesting, and the fact that several of those little sticks they sent grew amazed us. $10 is mighty cheap for an oak tree like the one we have now. After all this time, I'm thinking of donating another $10 to see what we'll get this time to provide more fun watching it turn into a tree.
If only one of your tiny trees grows, you get more than your money's worth. And supporting the Arbor Day Foundation is a good thing. The world needs more trees to remove CO2 from the air, make oxygen, grow acorns for deer and squirrels, and add shade to our yards.
On Sep 8, 2009, withad Warren Center, PA (Zone 5b) wrote:
My first order was for their 10 free trees for a $10.00 donation, 10 little sticks arrived. Wow, got burnt on this one. All 10 planted according to directions( with fencing) WOW all 10 sprouted and are doing well( second year) the crabapples are over 4 feet tall already.
Second order ,15 different Azaleas, all died. Called them, got order replaced for free including shipping and all 15 are doing terrific. So I guess I can't complain, except for the amount of promo they send out I am pleased with their products and customer service.
I just don't understand the harshness of many of the comments directed toward National Arbor Day Foundation. Ten trees for ten bucks, what does a person expect for that? I have joined NADF many times. The small seedlings of varying quality are immediately placed in one gallon nursery pots. Generally about 80% live. I leave them in my nursery area from a year to three years and eventually place them in the yard. The plants have done very well over the years, and for only ten or fifteen dollars I supported an important organization, and also ended up with 7-8 trees that eventually made it into the yard as healthy transplants. I've also ordered many trees from the foundation. Those trees are higher quality than the freebies, and are at a very reasonable price. In the next day or two I'll order three of their kousa dogwood trees. I challenge anyone to find as nice a tree for anywhere close to the $6.98 price tag.
We all need to remember that the Arbor Foundation sends bare root plantings. They are often referred by seed companies as "lining out stock" (less than 12") and "whips", up to 3' or so. No body should expect guaranteed success or large potted trees for just a few dollars! I generally order from the Arbor Foundation oak and pine not carried in local nurseries. This is extremely valuable, as most nurseries don't carry some of the best trees, as they can be slow starters or just aren't trendy.
I also research what I will order, finding that some distributors are less frank than others about tree performance, effect of soil, climate and pests. I have learned that the "sticks" referred to by some can be successful if: trees are. planted immediately, as directed. Use of a growth stimulant can make a big difference. So does soil type and initial watering. These are minimal risk offerings where the best results are to a large degree up to the gardener and his/her research and gardening practices. Other
sources have delivered dry root stock to me in poor condition, but I cannot say that of the Arbor Foundation in the last 15 years I have used them in Nebraska.
On May 19, 2009, forsythiasue Goldendale, WA wrote:
Received my 10 free trees as well as a few things I ordered seperately. Had my doubts about the little twigs surviving but after following the included instructions, weathering a horrible snow storm, being trampled by deer, my little "twigs" are doing great!
My 5 free Forsythia are about 3 feet tall, my Rose of Sharon actually bloomed the same summer I planted them. My Red Bud tree is also about 3-4' tall and I have no qualms about ordering from them again. You only have to follow the directions, read the description of what you're ordering so you understand what they are shipping, and water them faithfully. Ordered last spring and all have been in the ground for only 1 year and show substantial growth. I paid my membership and received 5 free Rose of Sharon 2 weeks ago and they are already leafing out. 5-19-2009
On Mar 22, 2009, LadyAethelwyne Harriman, TN wrote:
I became a member of Arbor Day last year (2008). Received my baby trees in a little bag like the kind newspapers are put in, and I was worried as I've never tried planting baby trees before. The tree roots were moist and covered in hydrating gel. I let them soak in water like the book said, then planted them carefully.
This spring, I've noticed little branches sprouting from all of the "twigs", and two have tiny leaves on them. They are doing so well!
I ordered 8 more trees, a bit worried because I read the feedback here and was expecting more "twigs". However, to my delight, I received a box about 5 foot tall in the mail today. Tied to a bamboo stick for support was a 4 ft tall maple, a kousa with lots of little branches and green buds, a budding saucer magnolia, and three arborvitaes that looked like the baby christmas trees bought in a store. Only the Japanese maples looked like sticks, but all of the trees had very long and (in some cases) very thick roots. I thought I would have to nurse these in my garden like the babies, but I'm thrilled that I can go ahead and plant them in my yard!
On customer service, I made my order but forgot the kousa dogwood. I sent an email, and the kind representative cancelled my order so I could do a new one with the kousa included. My new order arrived in just a few days!
Most of the feedback made me laugh-which is a good thing. I received my free twigs in December of 07. I couldn't tell which was which tree. until i noticed microscopic paint spots on them. I planted them the next weekend, after soaking them per their instructions. Kind of hard to do as they kept floating around. They are in their temporary fenced in area, until or if they survive. Since planting them we have had three snow storms and an ice storm. So I really don't have high hopes for them. If they grow, I'll be happy, if not I hope my donation helps with their cause. No big loss. (They were very quick to reply to my email regarding shipping time, however I think they were shipped much too late.)
On April 12th, 2009, plantgnome added the following:
Well my twigs are growing, my crabapple is leafing out and several of the others are getting buds. Needless to say I am astonished, but very happy. I also ordered a downy serviceberry tree with a free red maple. The serviceberry is budding and the maple is doing fine. I am happy with all their products, will get other trees from them in the future. So never say never until you give it a try. I do baby the "twigs" and have treated them with biological tree growth activator, which probably helped a great deal, whatever the reason, they did make it thru the first winter! On May 18th, 2009, plantgnome added the following:
Out of the ten "twigs" I received eight of them are flourishing, have leaves and have grown taller. So in another year, I can move them to their permanent homes!
On Nov 8, 2008, farrissophie Pocono Summit, PA wrote:
I ordered from Arbor Day, about 6 years ago, I ordered the ten free flowering trees, all lived but two, I left all but one of them at my old house, it is now over 4 feet tall, and last spring was the first time it produced beautiful cherry colored blooms, I just recently gave them my new address, and this time I order ten free Norway Spruce trees, they all arrived very healthy, and with a good root system, I planted the way the told me to, and they are doing great, my yard will have privacy from the neighbours sooner than I expected.
Thanks Arbor Day!
I have been a member since 1992, and have joined in the hazelnut research program too. I have a nice 7' x 5.5' Colorado Spruce that I received as a "smaller than pencil" bare root freebie among redbud and others. I have a hazelnut bearing for the first time this year in my front yard.
I am a satisfied member, still contributing, and appreciating the free literature and online information forms. I am a college horticulture student at present and find their infomation to be accurate, and more thorough than some.
I am a zone 5A resident of IL.
This past spring I placed several orders with the Arbor Day Foundation. I was drawn to them because of their selection and prices. I am also planting in my yard with the intention of enjoying the growth process of the trees/shrubs (ie not looking for full-grown trees for fifty times the price).
All items arrived bare-root, like I often get online. I followed the directions--soaking the roots, digging holes, etc. I laughed a little looking out at the "sticks" in my yard. Within a couple of weeks, however, I was excited to see the first growth.
The most impressive plant so far this year (just over three months since I planted) is the Elberta Peach, which went from an 18-inch "stick" to an amazing tree almost 5 feet tall. The Goldenraintree and Purpleleaf Sand Cherry are doing well, approximately doubled in height. I planted a 50-foot row of privet hedge which started as "sticks" between 6-12 inches long, which have grown to about 2 feet tall and branched out well.
Amazingly enough, the only things I got from them that haven't flourished are the free red maple trees that they send with each order. It has taken them about 3 months to get their first leaves...no big loss since I didn't order them specifically.
I will not hesitate to join again for the upcoming year. It is such a small fee to join, it is a non-profit, and I intend to send next year's "free" membership trees to a local school, since I don't need them right now.
I have been a member for a number of years now and will continue to support this company. I orded 3 nanking cherry bushes and a scarlet spiral willow from them this year--their prices are the best. My willow is looking great out there and has sprouted up about 6 inches in the 2-3 months since I planted it. My cherry bushes--2 arrived DOA. I planted them anyway to see if I was wrong, but they had not passed a scratch test and remained as dead as I had expected. A few weeks after their arrival, I called arbor day. Their policy says they will replace plants at half price if they don't live, but I was afraid of sending good money on top of bad, but figured I'd call anyhow just to see what they said. The man on the phone got my name, linked it to my address and when I said that they had arrived dead, he did not question me in the slightest. Just said he would send replacements right away. They came quickly with great root structures (unlike the poor sticks that had come the first time) and are thriving--as long as the deer leave them alone. Thanks arbor day!
And the trees I orderred were bigger than one's I've orderred from big nurseries! They're a little slow on shipping, but that's because everyone buys trees from them to save a buck so they are constantly backlogged with orders.
On June 6th, 2008, donicaben added the following:
Well, my free trees are turning orange (they're Norway Spruces). :-( I'm still keeping this as a positive though until I see how my purchased trees survive through the next year. I want to believe that this is a good company because it's a non-profit.
If you're looking for speedy deliveries and high-tech order updates and such I wouldn't reccommend.
On May 16, 2008, BotanicalBoi Carrollton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:
I can not believe the people who have the nerve to leave negative comments for a NON PROFIT GROUP! People get a grip! The free trees are a thank you for your DONATION. I have actually had a high percentage of the trees that they have sent live. Not too bad being that seedlings don’t always have the best odds.
On Apr 16, 2008, pittsburghTrees Pittsburgh, PA wrote:
It amazes me these negative comments. Saplings have a very low survival rate. 60% of saplings die and 90% do not survive the 1st year in nature. You can hardly blame Arbor day for Mother Natures survival rate of trees. You can improve the odds by planting them with TLC and keeping them safe from animals and competing plants. They sent out 8.7 million trees last year, which is very impressive. I know going into it that the 10 membership saplings are very small and have a low survival rate. It is well documented on the website that these saplings will be very small and need a lot of love in order to survive.
If you want trees with a higher survival rate, you need to stay away from saplings. You can get older trees through Arbor day as well, for a good price. But no one should judge Arbor day for the naturally low survival rate of saplings.
On Dec 23, 2007, CaptMicha Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:
For some reason, I received a couple of free Dogwoods from them. I didn't order, sign up or even contact them that I know of.
The packing sure was strange. The instruction sheet (regular computer paper) was in the same newspaper bag like sleeve with the trees so the paper was wet. And that was the extent of the packing. No box, insulation, cushioning or anything.
Even though the trees were packed so poorly, they were dormant and both looked fine with some green and I have them sitting in my garage ready to be planted out when it warms up.
I have personally never had any trouble with this company. I have been a member for several years, and all of the products I have ordered from Arbor Day have been of relatively good quality, especially the fruit trees I ordered in 2005 and 2006.
This is the second, and last, year I will receive dead plants from this organization. Last year the free red maple was the only tree that sprouted. All the fruit trees were DOA. This year, one of the plum trees was dead. I don't mean that they just didn't sprout. I could find no living tissue on the plants. I was not disappointed in the size to price ratio, but I am disappointed that the organization supporting tree planting nationwide would ship dead plants. I won't order from them again.
On March 19th, 2008, Buddy44 changed the rating from negative to positive and added the following:
I am tardy in writing this. Last fall, National Arbor Day Foundation replaced my orders for 2006 and 2007. All the plants were of good size and in good condition. They arrived the first of December, which is pushing the late button. All were planted promptly. They are beginning to bud out now. Thanks NSDF!
I been a member since 1998 and just think about these trees as babies, they just need a tad of love. There are trees that I ordered that died, but then I considered the fact that I may have planted the new fine roots in a rock hard clay. I read the one person said make a hole and add planting soil to just give a good start for the roots and so on. I ordered a lot and there are trees that all you do is just stick it in the ground and leave it alone, but there are less strong trees that require more thought. Overall I think they try their best, I just let it go when one dies. When I get my new shipment soon I'll use the potting soil and I feel that is best for the less shock... Oh yea to the people that said they received trees when the ground was soild, trees and other woody plants transplant the best during winter, I buy plants left over from stores in dec and they do just fine (you may have to think). Take Care and I think anyone that has trees that died to contact Arbor Day and tell them... How else would they know if they are strong or they made a mistake, they can't guess.
On Mar 23, 2007, edalejrfan Williamsburg, OH wrote:
I have been a member of the National Arbor Day Foundation for 5 years and I am renewing my membership for the 6th year this month. I am highly satisfied with the free trees I have recieved I have very big healthy trees for much less than I would have paid anywhere else. They do take time to grow but they are well work the wait. The 2 flowering pears I recieved my forst year are now about 10-15' tall and one of the crabapples has a weeping growing habit. A few trees have died out of the 50 I have recieved most were when I forgot to plant them and they stayed in the house all winter in the bag they came in but amazingly a few did grow. It doesn't matter to me if any die since i am paying to support their mission not to get free trees. I also made a donation and recieved 10 free lilacs which are doing great and bloomed for the first time last year and they were beautiful. I will continue to renew my membership for life.
A small tip: Use a bulb planter to make the holes and fill them in with a mix of purchased top soil and the soil from the holes, and of course don't forget to keep them watered.