My girlfriend joined the Arbor Day Foundation and donated the $10 because she wanted the free 10 flowering trees. About a week later I decided to join and donate to get the 10 bird lover trees. It's been 2 months and neither of us received any trees. We contacted the company and they said both of our orders had been shipped out and must've been lost in the mail, but that now they couldn't ship us any trees since the Spring season was over and we had to wait until Fall. Curious as to how many others this happened to, I went online and did a search. Sure enough, with the thousands of other people this has happened to, it seems to be quite a scam that has netted them a whole lot of money and there is nothing anyone can do about it except to use public forums to let others know.
I've ordered trees from Arbor Day last year and although small, each tree was nicely shaped, no broken branches, well packed and alive. I'm sorry to have to say that the trees I received this year did not live up to last year's shipment literally. Supposedly two Douglas Fir replacements are on the way (only ones I reported DOA) and as for the others, pin oak, tulip tree, sugar maples, a plum and a red bud, to date I have not seen one iota of life. Before receiving this shipment I also ordered a sweet bay magnolia. It also arrived with each leaf dried out and turning brown. In the future, I'll spend the extra money to get a nice, well packed tree from Spooner Farms. Should they fail me, that's it for buying plants online!
I wish I would have read the reviews. I got the 10 flowering tree package. I'm not too confident they will survive. I think one of the Washington hawthorns was dead on arrival. I also ordered 3 other trees and was supposed to receive a free red maple. I'm not sure what happened with those. Haven't seen them.
Joined as a member in the spring and received 10 bare root Colorado Blue Spruce seedlings. Once summer rolled in, they began to perish, one by one, until only one seedling had survived in the fall. Also, ordered two American hazelnut bare roots in the summer, but did not receive during their fall shipping. Later, customer service told me that my credit card number on file did not work and as a result the seedlings weren't shipped. However, no one at the organization reached out to me to let me know there was a billing problem until it was too late to ship for the season.
On Jun 5, 2014, devinevegan Igo, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:
Posted on April 30, 2014, updated June 5, 2014
I will update my review as time goes on but for now I'll list it as neutral. My husband and I submitted our $10 donation to receive 10 free trees and 2 free shrubs. Months later they arrived, around the date of average last frost for our area, so that was to be expected. The bag of water the roots were sitting in was very brown, milky and smelly. None of the trees or shrubs were broken but they were all very thin and small. We planted them in pots and will update on their condition, no change in them yet.
On June 5th, 2014, devinevegan changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:
Update: Only one shrub out of 10 plants has grown leaves. The others never grew any leaves at all.
On May 31, 2014, itsmesue Canton, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:
I would never have suspected a place that is supposed to be so very special about taking care of our planet and about trees to be so very very very *disappointing*.
Oh my gosh! I was excited about ordering trees from "The National Arbor Day Foundation". I had grown up hearing how wonderful this organization is. I even paid the extra money to not only order trees but to join it.
But what I got was shocking. I was shocked by how awful the items I got looked and I felt the quality was horrible. I feel as if all I did was waste money on stuff that looks as if any of it lives and/or grows, will be a miracle.
On May 15, 2014, krasim MOUTH OF WILSON, VA wrote:
I ordered fruit trees from this company/organization some years back. The cherry trees that I ordered were very small and took years before you could identify them. I was so disappointed to find out that the 2 bing cherry trees as well as the 2 black Tartarians were in fact all ornamental cherry trees. :( Being the Arbor Day Foundation, you would think that they would send you the right trees. I contacted them with pictures. After they examined them, they still said it was the Bing trees I ordered even though I told them the cherries were bitter and the size of a very small pea. Then, I invited a member of the local agriculture dept. to take a look. At this point they did reimburse me the $40.00 I originally paid for them years previously, but I was sad about this too because they grew sturdy and tall and all that time wasted to find out they were not what I ordered. By the way,they were all the same and I ordered 2 different varieties.Also I bought 2 different plum trees methley and damson, well years later, I have 2 identical plum trees with thorns and very small plums. I will never buy from them again and would not recommend buying from them.
I should have read the reviews first. If you are wiser and reading this review know the following:
1. Do not expect to receive plants from your order. You will receive twigs.
2. The 10 free plants are 10 twigs about 6 inches in length shipped as a bundle. These are not potted plants. They are shipped without any soil.
3. I expected that at least the tree saplings that are listed with longer lengths will be shipped with proper proportions and as living plants. No, they were twigs too, tied together in a bundle.
I don't know whether these will grow at all, I will try anyways.
Do not spend your money thinking you are spending it after a charitable cause. This company from all accounts and my own experience seems to be running a scam. If you feel charitable, donate money to a good charity organization. If you wish to help with reforestation, do it yourself. If you want to grow trees on your own property, find a good local nursery.
On Apr 30, 2014, Lianimals Newberry Springs, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:
I really hate to say it, but I can no longer in good faith support the Arbor Day Foundation based on the last two years of plant performance from this organization. The first year I became a member, I received my membership trees about a month later than is optimal for planting in my desert region. By the time the bare root 'sticks' arrived, daytime temps were approaching 90's which is pretty warm for a struggling little seedling. Although not one of those trees lived, I chalked it up to it being late in the season with soils just too dry to support early growth. On that occasion, I did not complain or request replacements.
So, this year, I contacted the ADF twice to request an earlier shipping date and they did in fact comply with my request, sending the free trees in mid-March which was perfect. I went to great lengths to plant these quickly and under perfect conditions but despite my experience with and care of these bare root plants, only 2 of the ten have leafed out. The rest are officially dead and I suspect were never viable to begin with. In attempting to request replacements, so far I have been getting the email run-around from the ADF and they are still suggesting elementary things like 'do a scratch test' despite my explaining two weeks ago in my initial inquiry that the cambium of all the remaining seedlings was dry and brown. What it comes down to is this: if the Arbor Day Foundation showcases its wonderfu contributions to conservation, then they'd better factor in the millions of gallons of precious water that people are pouring on dead seedlings.
I joined the foundation because I love plants. Even sent the foundation $20 dollars so that I could get the 'free' plants they were offering. What happened, nothing!! Did not get any plants but I did get the offer to send them more money. This foundation is BS!! Do not join! Do not send money!
About 6 years ago I joined, the Arbor Day Foundation. I was very excited and bought several trees including 2 Sweet Cherry Trees (Bing and Black Tartarian). After a few years they were 8 feet tall with a 4 feet spread, they gave flowers but did not give me any fruits for a few years. I decided to wait a few more years, got a few really tiny berries one year and then the same the year after that.
Never found out what kind of tree it was, but I know one thing it was not a Bing Cherry. So I cut them down and used them for fire wood. Sorry I had to wait so long to find out that this company was running a SCAM!!!
I just received an offer from the Arbor Day Organization that promises me I will get "free" trees for completing a survey. After reading the offer more closely, I could see that I needed to make a donation of at least $10.00 in order to get the trees. They tried to disguise their offer by saying I could redeem "free vouchers". I would have been more likely to send them the money if they had just been honest about their offer. The trees can't be "free" when getting them requires a donation. Why couldn't they just say that they were giving me the opportunity to purchase some trees for a small price? I bet that the survey is a meaningless part of the offer and they aren't interested in my opinions about trees. They just want my money.
I placed an order for several trees and also for a one-year membership last month. The price can't be beat but in reality, the chances of receiving viable trees is 50-50 at best. Several of the deciduous trees I received had no sign of any life (despite being mid May). The hemlocks I ordered were devoid of a single needle on any of their small branches and were obviously dead. Some of the other trees appeared to have some buds and may yet survive.
I had joined Arbor Day and paid for a one-year membership a few years ago too. At the time, I merely took advantage of the "10 free trees" that they always offer with membership. Of the 10 small twigs they sent back then, about half never showed any signs of life. A few others died almost immediately. Three actually survived. I didn't even bother ordering the 10 free trees offered with my membership this time, opting instead to order from their catalog instead. However, I don't think I will bother with them again though.
Sure wish I had read the reviews first! All ten free trees, dead. Both Apricot trees, dead. Both apple trees remain under 3 feet after 5 years. Forsythias so small that I ran over them with a push mower, never seeing them. All cedars, dead. Red maple, dead.
I thought I was helping a non profit so I placed a large order. Big mistake.
I joined them last year and received a bag of 10 moldy sticks with some anaerobic mud at the bottom of the bag. I didn't care about that, I joined them to help their cause, not get free stuff. Once they got my address, they started sending me a ton of junk mail asking for more money. If they planted 10 trees in my name, they must have killed 15 others to get the paper to send me junk mail. It appears that they also gave my address to two other places that also want $10 donations for free junk. One was to save wolves, the other one was to save the rain forests.
Later, I joined their $20 hazelnut program and received three twigs, the tallest of which was 3 inches high. The nuts were still attached to the small twigs but were growing green mold. In fact, the whole inside of the bag was green mold with roots and three tiny sticks poking out. When I tried to lift the hazelnut twigs out of the bag, two of them just desentigrated. The third one has grown more mold and shown no signs of plant growth.
On Apr 21, 2013, unhappyarborday Bristol, VA wrote:
I placed an order with Arbor Day. I called within 10 minutes after I placed the order because I was going to be out of town so I wanted to make sure I would be home when my plants arrived. I was told there was no way I would know when my plants arrived and I also would not receive any type of confirmation when my plants would be were shipped. Since I probably would not be home when my plants arrived, I cancel my order. My credit card has now been charged and it looks like it is going to be a REAL PROBLEM to get my refund (esp. the membership fee), which I never plan on using, or recommending Arbor Day to anyone. Since they won't work with their customer on when the plants arrive, I really wonder if they really care about the plants. It appears the only thing they care about is getting your money.
I 100% know for a fact that the Arbor Day Foundation has its own employees write positive reviews on Dave's Garden. I was told by the employees themselves. The ADF is SHADY! Nature Explore and the ADF have questionable dealings. Nature Explore actually has a church writing checks to their contractors. The IRS needs to look into both orgs.
I am sad to say I am also extremely displeased with this company, the service, and the hazelnut trees program. I am a novice gardener, but doing quite well overall, especially with my 4 other hazelnut trees bought locally. I am also successfully self propogating lilacs and mock orange, etc. Hazelnuts are somewhat hardy, tough trees, well usually. I live in the Pacific Northwest, hazelnut capital, so they tend to thrive here. However, Arbor day could not tell me when they shipped, just a general idea, but the three tree twigs were in the mail for at least 2 weeks from what I understood (I waited 6 months for them due to the ship date). I then received 8 inch thin, sickly twigs with white mold/fungicide/ or something on them. They were alive at the time so I planted them same day/time received and in a great location, well draining, not too deeply planted, not too shallow, etc. and they died (no green on the stem if rubbed) within a month, no leaves, etc. Customer service was polite but would not refund my money or send a replacement when I called to see what they intended to do, basically they said,"Thank you for the donation." They did not reply to my two emails as well with the questions, concerns, and complaint about the trees. I do not plan to purchase from Arbor Day Foundation again nor recommend them to others....
I stupidly order trees from this org. several times. Fool me once.....The 1st batch of trees included "paper birch". I understand that the prices are low but if you sell yourself as people trying to introduce more trees into the world, and experts, shouldnt you know hat you are selling? They sold me 10 twigs which I nursed and fussed over and spent $$$ & time on and they are not paper birch. They are some variety of birch but they are nowhere near white. This is 5 years down the road, the twigs are now 12' tall with dark brown bark. of ~ 25 conifer I bought maybe 3 are alive. Lastly I bought 3 eastern Redbuds - I got twigs with NO ROOT BALL - NONE. 1 root like someone yanked it out of the ground and threw it in the box.
Their resolution is to send me more twigs - which I do not feel compensates me. I spent time & $$ and could have gone in other directions if they kept their end of the deal. I think they are all about a few people at the top lining their pockets while they, and I have no proof of this, probably get Agriculture students to work for nothing.
I would not buy anything from them. They cannot be trusted. The vast majority of thier trees are non viable.
On May 5, 2012, Everfreeflora Blackfoot, ID wrote:
Im not sure this organization(company) truly cares for its cause. I donated last year and got the 10 free twigs, i wasent expencting anything amazing as it was just a donation, but none of them lived, i wasn't upset or anything since it was only $10 and i didnt have room for that many trees to begin with. However i recently placed an order for two japanese cherry trees with them since the National Cherry Blossom Festival had them listed as their prime source for people wanting to have their own... i received one of the two today, about 3 feet long with spinly hairs for "roots", now unfortunaly for me i don't forsee this taking off to a wonderful start with suck lackluster roots on a brance this size. I would completely recomend you use a more competent nursery for your tree needs, one wich will make sure their plants are well rooted before they send them to you, one that actually cares for their image and the fate of their plants.
donated to this foundation and just received my ten free moldy, smelly trees. This is the last time I will have any kind of dealings with them. Last year I bought trees from them and all I have to show for it are a few sticks, they did nothing but sit there last year, no growth, just sticks, I have been a member for a few years now, but no more. To whoever reads this don't waste your time or money
I bought a membership, for $10.00, then went head over heels and trusted the foundation, bought $800.00 in northern privets to make a hedge wall around my property, everyone of the 400 plants i bought were small and had very small roots, i planted them in early March, they said the hedges grew 3-6' per year, a year later they are the same size as when i planted them, about a third of them died, the other two thirds grow leaves but have not expanded at all, they are the same twigs sent to me when i planted them only they have some leaves on them. False advertising probable, and the size of some of these hedges are really a joke, they also shorted me around 30 of them had to have them send me the other 30 or so. They sent me some crepe myrtles to replace the third that died in December when i asked them to send them to me in the spring. I went ahead and planted them and they aren't doing anything 3 months later not even a bud. I would avoid these "foundations" they are only fronts for the super rich to hide their wealth in, and don't really care that i spent $800 dollars on them, they said after sending the crype mrytles that dont do anything it was all they could do. Sorry company "foundation" whatever.
The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit that sells retail seedlings by mail. The foundations only objective is to sell more trees and memberships. This company should be paying taxes like other for-profit retailers because the ADF is no charity. I'm going to request an inquiry from the Commerce Department in to their shady business.
I bought trees from the ADF and most of them lived. I'm really soured by the way the ADF has disrespected me as a customer with loads of junk mail, and sending membership renewal notices every other month after I purchased a year of membership in exchange for trees.
Don't give these dodgy people your address, unless you want a bunch of junk mail asking for money. The surplus nursery stock they liquidate is way overpriced, IMO. But worst, are their business practices, very unethical... After you order, The company continually tries to obtain revenue by deceiving their customers /"members". If you become a member of the "foundation" the company will send you repeated renewal notices by mail asking for more money. I understand they may even try to charge your credit card the membership fee after you don't respond before your membership runs out.
I don't want my money back, I just want this foundation shut down. Capitalism isn't evil, but companies like the National Arbor Day Foundation make it feel that way. -Devin
I ordered one dogwood and one japanese red maple. They sent us two trees and both were planted. The Japanese maple died but the other tree prospered and grew and then we realized it was NOT a dogwood but a weeping willow. I didn't want to kill off the tree by removing it but I have to say there is a huge difference between a large water hungry tree like a WW and a dogwood. I called the Arbor Foundation and even emailed and sent pictures of the wrong tree they had sent. Not only did I not receive a response but then they didn't even bother to offer suggestions or even replace it. I would never ever order a tree from them again. They did send a Japanese red maple and its growing in a pot and will have to go out in the ground soon, but like I said I am not very happy with their service. Sending the wrong tree is not acceptable, especially if its in the ground and growing before you even know what it is you planted. I have little trust for them and they have lousy customer service.
On May 6, 2011, Thunderlilies Battle Creek, MI wrote:
I hate to give a negative because I love what they stand for, but I have not had a good experience with these folks and will no longer be ordering from them.
I have purchased quite a few fruit trees and green giants from them over the last couple of years... and, at this time, all the fruit trees are struggling and not growing. Over half of the baby green giants have died...
Plants I have ordered from other nurseries have flourished in my garden.
When I contacted them about one of my fruit trees that had died I had to pay 1/2 of the cost of the original to get a new tree.
On the other hand, their prices are low, which is great, if you're willing to take that risk. And the free red maple they send with your order grows very well. So, if the rest of your order doesn't do so great, at least you have that red maple tree!
When I sent my $10 "donation" to ADF with the promise of 10 free trees, plus lilac bushes, etc. I didn't expect much, but I did expect some common sense from a foundation that wants to grow healthy plants. Although I sent in late summer/ealry fall the shipment wasn't received till around mid Dec. By then we had 2-4 feet of snow in our yard. We live in the snowbelt. If ADF had done its homework they'd have known that. They claim they'll be shipped at the best time for planting in our area, but Dec. is rarely the best time to plant anything here! We never received the lilac bushes...just as well, I guess. The tiny twigs are still lying out in our back room; no chance to plant them. If ADF really cared about growing things, they wouldn't send the babies to their certain demise by shipping them to a snowy death! Such a shame.
I would Avoid this scam at all costs. They tell you the trees are free, but charge you 10 bucks to join...ok, so it turns out what you pay for what you get, a buck a plant, a buck a sick and and paltry plant that is. After 40 years I know what good stock is, and this is not it...and this is the first 100% negative review I've ever given.
Stunted stock that no self respecting nursury would sell. I also made the mistake of ordering a few extra plants...they came dead, and never recovered though they got immedicate and tender care. The few things that did survive were the smallest excuses for nursery stock I've seen in 40 years of mail orders!! Bare none.
And, to top it all off...if you don't watch them, they will renew your "$10 membership" each year without your permission, costing you even more.
To top it 0ff even more, they call themselves a "non-profit", as if they are doing us and the world a favor...well, if the world deserves to get ripped off, by folks selling garbage, and paying no taxes either, they I guess they are right on.
Personally, I stand by my assessment:
AVOID this company, it is dishonest and inept, and doesn't even attempt to approach the quality good gardeners have come to appreciate.
On Aug 29, 2010, Phrederica_VA Montpelier, VA wrote:
Sure, they send little twigs that may or may not survive. But the worst part is they always send them at the worst time of year. They claim it is "the best for your area", but June is a terrible time to plant in Virginia! It is not even in their range of when they are supposed to arrive. I read another complaint from someone way up north who got their trees long after the ground was frozen solid.
My theory is that they get the trees at the end of the season from cheap tree sellers at a huge discount. I find it hard to believe that they want people to grow trees when they are so uninterested in the success of their seedlings.
I made the mistake, after receiving half-dead sticks in the heat of June, to order some hazel nut trees. They were beautiful seedlings when they arrived in a timely manner in spring. They looked like they were greenhouse raised, not field raised, and normally I would have carefully hardened them off. But, the directions promised me that the best method was planting them immediately. The first mild frost blasted the bark right off of them.
Ordered months in advance, their website lists old shipping dates, follow up e-mail informed me they ship much later to Texas for dormancy and heat window. I was fine with that. I ordered from several suppliers last year. The Arbor day plants I paid for were the worst performers and most are disposed of now. All the free plants did great, crape myrtles, forsythia, and red maple, all the purchased plants did terrible, so I guess we are even as far as the value is concerned (I spent $60 on many plants, got 8 free plants as a bonus and they are all doing fine, while every plant I bought I discarded or is extremely stressed still). I would especially dissuade anyone from purchasing the evergreen seedlings, unless you want to pot them and nurse them back to health (Which Arbor day themselves say it is best not to do).
On Jun 2, 2009, kentuckywoman2 Louisville, KY wrote:
Last spring I gave a $10 contribution for which I was to receive 10 flowering trees and 1 crapemyrtle. I expected the trees to be shipping in the spring or early summer, but by NOVEMBER I still had not received my trees. I called and got no response to my inquiry of "Where are my trees?", so I emailed and finally got a response. However, the response was that since I was in hardiness zone 7, the trees would be shipped in December! First of all, I'm in hardiness zone 6, NOT 7. When I alerted the Arbor Day Foundation to that, they said that they were the ONLY organization to "update" the hardiness zones, and now I was in Zone 7. Then, the customer service gal, Carla, proceeded to tell ME what my weather is like here in Kentucky! I finally escalated the call to speak to her supervisor, who shipped me my trees around the end of November. Unfortunately, we had already had a couple of freezes and since our soil is mainly clay, I had a very difficult time trying to dig deep enough to plant the "twigs" they sent me. Needless to say, THEY ALL DIED. I recently requested a replacement shipment and was told, by the same Carla, that my replacement trees would be shipped in Spring of 2010, unless I wanted them to be shipped in Fall 2009! Unacceptable! Again, the last time they shipped in "Fall", it was actually way past Fall and into Winter. Again, I informed them that their zones were not correct, according to our weather patterns, and again, this Carla proceeded to tell ME what our weather here in Kentucky is like! Finally, I requested a refund of my $10 and I'm now told it will take about 3-4 weeks. At least that's faster than they ship their "twigs." I have been a member since 2003 and this Carla person was the last straw. She's rude and arrogant and if she's the best they can do to represent their customer service department, then they have a real problem. In any case, I'll do my tree and shrub buying from a local nursery. I'll not do business with the Arbor Day Foundation again. They are clueless. Absolutely clueless.
I gave a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation over three months ago with the promise from them that I would received 8 free trees and a lilac bush. I have yet to recieve them. I don't expect to receive something in return for a donation but I do expect an organization to honor its promises and to remit promised goods. I cannot respect a company that uses a bait and switch tactic to suck donations out of people. I can respect a company that does simply ask for a donation and doesn't promise anything to me personally in return, and I can donate to those organizations. All I have received from ADF is more solicitations for money and more (empty I'm sure) promises of goods. As a company, I mean organization, that seems very commercially interested, this is very poor business practice as I will never buy a plant from them and will talk anyone out of it who threatens to do so.
To make things worse, I have been trying to email them about my complaint for over a week now and their website is broken and supposedly being repaired. It makes them seem to be hiding from the complaints.
I have little faith at this point that they are interested in anything that has to do with improving the earth. I am sure the only thing they are interested in is taking as much money as they can get their hands on. And they do not care how unethical their methods are to obtain it.
I sent $20 and got 10 twigs, 7 of which had a hair root on each, and 3 with no roots and the size of a pencil. The seven with the roots were about the same size as a pencil. Of the seven planted a month ago 4 are showing some very small growth on them. I pulled the rest out and their roots had not gained any hairs so I threw them away. I should be dead by the time they are full grown trees. I feel dupped. I could have gone to a tree nursery and got a better deal. I will not order any more trees from this organization, and would advise anyone else not to unless they want to give a donation to an organization that is deceptive about what they really send you.
On Jan 10, 2009, GideonOrchards Springboro, PA wrote:
NADF is the bad result of trying to mix business and charity.
I've ordered from them a couple times over the years.
Currently, they are having a competition with Autumn ridge to see who can sell the smallest twigs and call them "trees" without breaking into maniacal laughter when you call and ask, "um, hello, you sent me a handfull of twigs by mistake, I ordered trees."
I fully expect that the Scarlet Oaks they sell will soon be shipped out in the form of an acorn. It will simplify planting.
Apples and pears I ordered were borderline acceptable. Other trees (cherries and such) were too small.
Folks, it's pretty simple. You'll spend 5 or 10 bucks on the most useless crap, so spend 5 or 10 bucks on a tree that will then produce fruit for you 5 or more years earlier than what this charity/business sells you, and you avoid the aggravation of trying to find your new plantings among the clover and dandelions.
Support the cause with a straight donation - buy your trees elsewhere.
Buyer Beware! Trees are smaller than a #2 pencil and most won't grow at all. Worst of all this applies to purchased trees not just the 10 free trees that comes with the membership. The trees are so tiny that if they grow at all they need to be planted in a protected garden for at least a year. At the size they arrive it is doubtful that they will be able to survive a winter.
If you want to support the Foundation, do so. Just don't bother to order trees. Save your money for a site with a proven track record.
I wasn't expecting much out of the 10 free trees, so when I opened a package of sticks, I wasn't too disappointed, as I figured they'd be crap.
However, I did buy 4 Pee Gee Hydrangeas and was flabbergasted when they arrived in the same condition and size as the free trees. Wait a minute..you mean I paid good money for these?
It's now 2 years later and my Pee Gees are only about a foot tall. I have to mark them with red ribbon each spring or they'd get pulled as "weeds". They are a moderately fast growing tree normally, but mine are about the same size as 2 years ago--they 've sprouteda few branches, but not much.
I just topdressed them w/some humus and cmposted manure to try and boost them up a bit.
I am beyond disappointed. I expected them to be "experts" but was I wrong.