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Comments regarding Forestfarm

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451 positives
32 neutrals
21 negatives


Negative mylittletrees
(20 reviews)
On May 26, 2020, mylittletrees Corning, OH wrote:

Posted on May 2, 2015, updated May 27, 2020
I think they are slipping. Last spring I ordered 5 trees from them. This was only my second order with the organization. The plants were shipped perfectly but looked somewhat spindly; this was especially true for the ilex that I had received. All the trees were babied, but they barely grew. Four of the five trees ended up dying through the winter. So I contact them, and they are very helpful and willing to replace my trees. So on 4-30-15 I received the replacement order. Once again everything arrived perfectly, but upon inspection of the ilex, I find that they are infested with scale. They have yellowing leaves and stems. The only dark green leaves are at the very top of the plants. Everybody knows scales suck the life out of plants. I don't know call me picky, but I think it looks bad to send out weakened plants with bugs. Are they just tired of working with me, or do they even care anymore? And to think these weak and spindly ilex trees cost $24.95 a piece. I'll be lucky if they live.

Someone else on here with negative experience mentioned that FF grows their merchandise in a lot of shade. Considering how spindly and leggy their plants are, I tend to agree.

On May 26th, 2020, mylittletrees added the following:

I've placed many orders with Forestfarm over the years for their tube size trees. To this day when I survey the yard there is only 2 items somewhat thriving that came from Forestfarm. Everything else has died. Considering the fact that I babied those plants almost daily, I don't think that is a very good outcome. Nobody at Forestfarm ever sent me photos of my plants prior to shipping them out. If they had, I probably would have stopped the order. Always seemed like I got weak and pot bound plants. Still disappointed in 2020.
On May 26, 2020, Forestfarm responded with:

"On May 4, 2015 10:31 AM, Forestfarm responded with:

We are so sorry to hear that your replacement Ilex had scale on them. We should have caught that in our checking process and we really apologize. We never get tired of dealing with our customers. You are why we are here. We do care very much both about our customers and our plants. Please do let us know if the plants fail to thrive for you, as you know you we will happily work with you. We are excited to share that the farm has moved to a new location which receives lots of sun.

All my best,



Negative nickinny
(1 review)
On Jul 11, 2019, nickinny Fulton, NY wrote:

Ordered a Trachycarpus wagnerianus a couple of years ago on the website because I could not find the plant anywhere else. I was sent a small strapling in the mail and because of its age there was no way to really confirm whether it was the dwarfed stiff-leaved Trachycarpus wagnerianus or the more droopy larger leaved Trachycarpus fortunei. The difference is rather distinct. Now that the plant is starting to trunk and the leaves are in their mature form I can see that it is definitely a fortunei, which is a bummer because the only reason I purchased from a retailer all the way in Oregon is because it was the only retailer I could find of the species. Unfortunately, this really was not an issue I could contact them with upon the arrival of the order because there was really no way to tell what the mature palm looked like. Maybe I'm splitting hairs but I expect to receive the correct plant when I order from a company.

Negative LIRose
(6 reviews)
On Apr 28, 2017, LIRose Peconic, NY wrote:

I placed an order for 3 plants from ForestFarm this spring based on the positive reviews here and the "Top 30" rating. However, this order has turned out to be one of the most frustrating mail-order experiences of my long gardening life. First, I received no email confirmation of my order. Then, I received no shipping notification. I had to place calls and fill out their website contact form to inquire multiple times as to whether they received my order and again whether and when they would be shipping my order (the response was: it shipped a week ago!). Emails to their [email protected] address bounced! When the plants finally arrived, I was disheartened to see the tiny band pots they use (much smaller than your typical band pot both in width and length). The tree seedling I ordered was so rootbound that I had to cut the pot to get it out. One small lilac plant is healthy and looks good, but the rose plant is a joke on me and an embarrassment to them. It arrived dry as a rock with its foliage shriveled, and my communication to the company on this got me a no-response. I give up...working with this vendor is too much hard work and an exercise in disappointment. ForestFarm has earned its well-deserved spot on my "never again" list.

On Apr 28, 2017, Forestfarm responded with:

"On Apr 28, 2017 10:03 AM, Forestfarm responded with:

We are so sorry to hear your experience with our nursery so was so frustrating. Unfortunately, you caught us in the middle of a server switch that created some havoc with our email system. Those issues have all been resolved.

We strive to send the very best plant material. It sounds like your rose suffered in transit. We feel badly that you are unhappy with your plants and we will be crediting your credit card. Thank you for your feedback. We wish you a wonderful planting season.


Negative ybpearson
(2 reviews)
On Aug 18, 2016, ybpearson Washington, DC wrote:

Upon delivery of the plants (March), I contacted Forest Farms to submit a claim that the flowers did not meet the description as ordered, and thus I requested full reimbursement. After several attempts to contact them, I received an automated message that my ticket was closed. I immediately responded that my ticket should remain open because it had not been serviced. I made several more attempts to contact the company without a response. Eventually, I realized that my email account had been block. My only recourse was to dispute the charge with my credit card company, because the merchant did not fulfill their terms of refunds for defective plants, and it deliberately conspired to block correspondence. I was issued a full refund by my CC company. I will never order from them again.

On Aug 18, 2016, Forestfarm responded with:

"On Sep 2, 2016 4:23 PM, Forestfarm responded with:

We are very sorry that you were unhappy with the plants that you received, we strive to send only the highest quality stock. When your order went out in March we posted a discount of $12.00 to your credit card. You then contacted us letting us know that some of your plants had failed and we issued you another credit in June for $28.85. We were surprised to get a letter from your credit card company stating that we had not delivered your order and that you were requesting a full credit. At that point we worked with your credit card company, we would never block your email. We wish we had been able to resolve this in a more positive manner and we wish you all the best. "

Negative Rpeazalea
(5 reviews)
On May 16, 2016, Rpeazalea Potomac, MD wrote:

I ordered four frees in February for Spring delivery. In early May I notified forest farm I would be out of town, so not to send plants. After a week I told them I was back. Then I realized no one was responding to customer service emails, and auto reply to one of them was to forum that didn't work.

It boils down to trees being absent and no communications from forest farm.

On May 16, 2016, Forestfarm responded with:

"On May 24, 2016 3:43 PM, Forestfarm responded with:

We apologize for any confusion on our end. Your package had shown as delivered before we got your email communication. It appears now that UPS must have delivered your plants to the wrong address. We are very happy to replace these plants for you. We hope that you have a wonderful spring. If you have any other concerns not covered in our contact with you please give us a call at 541-846-7269."

Negative 123456789
(5 reviews)
On Mar 15, 2012, 123456789 Winston, OR wrote:

Posted on April 21, 2007, updated March 15, 2012
thier website is my first stop If I want to research a new genus. huge inventory, their catalog would take months to read and must be four inches thick. thier tubes have been shoddy for me; but a one gallon redbud of theirs has the shaping and pruning of a true master.

On March 15th, 2012, 123456789 changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:

forest farm's web site has often been my first stop to look at a plant picture, and the selection makes for a telephone book catalog with witty snippets through out. That said.................................................................................................The stock quality is lack luster at best. i've order multiple times and visited thier nursery in williams. it really is a 'forest farm " with dense shade cast on ther stock all day everyday making for leggy or weak stuff wacked up like bonsai. often the material is root bound like an anaconda was nesting in the pot. I say drive out to see them in williams and pick out your choice, better yet buy some seeds and grow your own its how they do it and is much more rewarding.
On Mar 15, 2012, Forestfarm responded with:

"On Mar 18, 2012 8:45 PM, Forestfarm responded with:

Wow! It’s hard to know what flipped the switch to cause “Mike” to go from neutral to a negative rating. He visited Forestfarm in January of 2011 (over a year ago), when he purchased a few plants, but we haven’t had any contact with him since then.

We work hard to keep our customers happy (it’s important to us), so we sent “Mike” a D-Mail and then called him to ask what we had done wrong--what we could do to make things right. He didn’t really have an answer, but said he would amend his posting. That hasn’t been done, so we feel that we must defend ourselves with a rebuttal.

“Mike’s” comment about Forestfarm growing all of our plants in dense shade “all day everyday” is totally false. At least 75% of the nursery receives mostly sun each day. Those plants that do better in shade or partial shade are given these conditions. We certainly don’t see in our plants what he’s referring to as spindly or leggy growth, plants “wacked up like bonsai”, or “anaconda” root systems. We really wonder if he was thinking of Forestfarm when he wrote this, or some other nursery!

Some of the plants “Mike” purchased at Forestfarm were named cultivars, so obviously weren’t grown from seed. We do grow many kinds of plants from seed, and would welcome readers to try to do so also. But it may not be as easy as he makes it sound.

Since we never know what demand for a plant will be, it’s always a guess as to how many to grow. Sometimes we don’t have enough of a plant; sometimes we have too many, in which case some may get overly large. When that happens, we donate the overgrown plants to our local Master Gardener group for educational purposes, or they are used in a plant sale to raise money for the group’s activities.

As to the plant quality being “lack luster at best”, please read the other postings on the Garden Watchdog and make your own judgment. Thank you, Ray & Peg & crew

Negative deerlily
(1 review)
On Oct 6, 2010, deerlily Bellingham, WA wrote:

I was going to order material from ForestFarm as I had heard so mnay good things about the company. However, all of those great comments were instantly shattered by the treatment that I recieved from the woman (?) who answered the phone..... Maureen (??). This company should have ditched her a long time ago; abrupt, short, complete lack of personality and customer service attributes. It sounded as though she had a problem with life in general; really bad customer relations. So much so, that I thought twice about ever ordering material from this company. My money is as good as anyone elses and I choose to spend it as I feel fit, and where I am treated with respect. Not at this company...not for this person....
ForestFarm, get rid of this person; she is bad for your company and bad for your business! Or, do you care?

On Oct 6, 2010, Forestfarm responded with:

"On Jan 23, 2011 3:40 PM, Forestfarm responded with:

We've let some time go by in hopes that we'd hear from "deerlily", but since we haven't, we'll post a rebuttal now in the form of a D-mail sent to her right after her posting. We tried!!
"Thank you for taking the time to post...I only wish it hadn't been so negative! I'm truly sorry that one of our staff came across that way to you. It's not something that we, the owners, can hear, because we're not hovering around her. So we do appreciate your input in the matter. But please don't judge us because of one person you spoke with having a bad day. We can do better, and usually do. We'll be glad to call you to answer your questions or help you in any other way, if you'll tell us how to reach you. We’ll do whatever we can to erase that taste from your mouth. Really, is it fair to give us a negative rating when you haven't even given us the chance to ship any plants to you? We are responsive and wish for you to be a favored customer! Thanks, and hope to hear from you, Ray""

Negative krowten
(9 reviews)
On Oct 7, 2009, krowten Greensburg, PA wrote:

My experience with this company spans a number of years, but only a single purchase. My initial order arrived promptly but had a couple of tiny, inferior plants (among a half dozen different plants), both of which died. After an extensive email exchange with Ray, Ray agreed to replace the dead plant and issue a credit for the other. We agreed to wait for the next year before the replacement was sent, which was OK with me.

The next year I was delighted to get a large, beautiful replacement plant, which survives and is doing well to this day. Two years after receiving the plant, it bloomed and set fruit. That is how I discovered that my replacement goumi was actually an autumn olive. While both species bloom in similar time frames, goumi fruits ripen in spring and early summer while autumn olive fruits ripen in the late fall.

I emailed Ray back again, initiating another email exchange. Ray basically said he would have to check his stock to verify what I said was correct, which I suppose is reasonable, but that frustrated me as it should be obvious to anybody working with these plants what the difference is and that there is a problem with the goumi stock. A nursery raising these plants should pick up on the fruiting time difference. Well, Ray emailed back confirming that his stock of goumi was actually autumn olive. He indicated that his seed supplier must have sent him the wrong seed. Here again, while similar in appearance, autumn olive seed are significantly smaller than goumi seed (about half the size or slightly less) so I felt that this error should have been caught at the beginning. At this point in time, I also realized that goumi started from seed usually does not supply the same quality as named lines started via cuttings, something I had not picked up on during my initial purchase.

Ray indicated that he would take care of the problem and I was expecting to see a goumi plant the following spring. However I have heard nothing from him nor received anything in the past two years.

I've debated making a comment here for some time, not sure what to do. After all, there was an effort made to fix the original problem, which I did greatly appreciate. However, shipping misidentified plants can be a big problem for all of us and I've been disappointed for a long time with my experience with Forest Farm. You can invest years and much effort in a plant to later find it is not what you wanted. I am disappointed that this problem was neglected and ignored but I also wonder how many others may have gotten an autumn olive instead of a goumi and did not realize the problem.

On October 7th, 2009, krowten added the following:

I just noticed this update from Forest Farm and wanted to respond to Ray's rebuttal.

First of all, I am not happy with Ray's lack of discretion by posting the text of what should have been a private email exchange between the two parties to resolve this issue. I was trying to be fair about this problem, obviously conflicted, and really didn't know whether I wanted anything from Forest Farm at this point in time, as the issue was long past for me. Yet Ray, stating his concern for Forest Farm's reputation, seemed to me more concerned about his reputation at Dave's than trying to satisfy a customer or prevent problems from happening.

I felt that I was being pressured by Ray to make a decision that I wasn't prepared to make. And that is precisely the point. I stopped pursuing the problem with Forest Farm initially, partially out of frustration of dealing with Ray's e-mails, e-mail style, and communications. Then, after deciding to post my concerns, was again pressured by Ray to agree to his solution. Ray's expressed concern that I should have contacted him first, before posting, is simply not valid - he was contacted regarding the problem but did not follow through.

Ray, a simple apology for being missed and an offer to make amends was really all that was necessary and really all that was necessary to say in your rebuttal. I understand that mistakes happen in business. A good faith effort to fix them goes a long way. Yet, you felt the need to take our communications public and push for your solution which does not solve the issue from my point of view. I am now more frustrated and unhappy with Forest Farm than I was before. Had you simply answered my questions privately and asked me to update my feedback with a note that we were working to resolve the issue, I would have done so.

By responding in the way you chose to do, you tried to show that I was not responding to you, even after you were told that I wanted some time to think about it. Taking this public was an effort to push the problem on me after Forest Farm had made a simple, but significant mistake. It was not necessary and, in my opinion, not good customer relations.

For the record, Ray decided to send me a refund check. I have not yet decided whether it will get cashed. Despite an impressive catalog and some stock that appears to only be available from Forest Farm, it is highly unlikely they will receive additional business from me.

And, no, I will not change my rating after seeing this latest posting from Ray.

Oh, and some advice to all: If you decide to do business with Forest Farm, be aware that they feel they have the right to publish any private communications that you might have with them. I have not checked to see if their web site has a privacy policy, but many ethical companies respect the privacy of their customers and their communications. While many Dave's subscribers know my name, my handle is krowten for public postings.
On Oct 7, 2009, Forestfarm responded with:

"On Aug 23, 2009 10:15 AM, Forestfarm responded with:

Four weeks have now passed since [name removed by customer request] posting, and we haven’t been able to get the information we need from him to “make things right”. So it’s time to post a rebuttal.

We’re guilty (sort of) as charged. Yes, [name removed by customer request] replacement Goumi did not get sent to him, although it was not forgotten. It just slipped through the cracks.

We wish that [name removed by customer request] would have come to us directly, of course, rather than post a negative rating. Although we try hard to please everyone, with thousands of customers, and only limited brain power to remember all the things that need to be done, omissions sometimes happen.

I D-mailed [name removed by customer request] immediately (on Sunday) after his post. After not receiving a response for several days, we went into our storage to pull out the papers from his last order, so I could contact him directly. It turns out the phone number he had then was no longer valid for him, but I was able to reach him via email. I’ll paste the exchanges below.

“I immediately replied to you through Dave's Garden, but apparently you haven't read my email.

We did not have your email in our computer any longer, but went into our storage area and found your last order, which gave me this email address. I hope it is current so that you will receive the message that I'm pasting below. Thank you, Ray

I certainly can't blame you for posting a negative rating about Forestfarm. You have been more than patient. Please know that you have my humble apology.

The funny thing is that the Goumi for you has popped into my mind over the past few years, and I wondered whether we had solved the problem. I even asked the office staff about it, but during the busy shipping season, no one had time to look. I guess I assumed that we had taken care of you, because it had been in my mind, and I had wanted to follow through. But I didn't have a way to check without having your name in front of me, and the old emails have been deleted by our tech consultant. I also assumed (and hoped!) that since I didn't hear from you again, we had fulfilled our obligation. Wrong, I guess, and I'm sorry.

We got rid of the batch of plants that turned out to be autumn olive, and got true Goumi again, particularly with you in mind. I can only apologize for not sending you one when we were supposed to. As to the seed question you raise, we tend to believe what our suppliers tell us, unless the plants turn out to be different, which may not be noticed until years later. It might be possible to note the difference in the seed size, as you mention, but it is not likely something that the staff would have noticed when planting those seeds. We might have wished that to be the case, but it's just not something that happened.

Ordinarily, if we need to ship a replacement plant to someone, which does happen occasionally (we're certainly not perfect, and although we try hard not to make mistakes, they happen), we will put an order in the computer for the next feasible time to do so. Unfortunately, with the Goumi, we had to wait two growing seasons for the new crop to be ready, and that's how your order slipped through the cracks. We had no way to put in an order for shipment that far in advance. So your paperwork got put into a file, and that's where it stayed.

The only thing we can do now, except apologize profusely, is to save one of the large 3-4') 1-gal. size Goumis to ship to you in fall, when the weather cools sufficiently to permit safe shipping. If it would please you, we actually could ship one to you now via Air, and absorb the extra $22 in Air shipping costs (whatever we can do to make you happy).

We are at your mercy. Please tell me what we can do to make amends, by replying directly to me at [email protected]. Thanks, Ray”

[name removed by customer request] wrote:

Thank you for your email. Frankly I did get your email on Dave's Garden and did not respond immediately because I just didn't know my own mind or how to answer your questions.

To answer a couple questions specifically:

1) I do not want you to ship air at this time. I think that would be unreasonable for me to expect you to do this.

2) I do not want you to ship a goumi for fall. I have pursued goumi's from other sources and lost a couple during spring leaf break. I think it important that they have the growing season to establish.

3) I would like to know, although none of my business, if you notified other recipients of the goumi that were autumn olive - I think I ran into someone on Dave's who had an AO but thought it was a goumi.

I need some time to think this through a bit. I was not expecting to hear from you, although I knew this was a possiblity.


[name removed by customer request]

Thank you for responding. I am glad that you were able to read my response to you.

The most important thing to me is to make you happy, after the disappointment you've been through. If you think that a Goumi could establish before winter if we shipped it to you now, via Air, I would be willing to do so. I feel bad enough about you waiting this long that whatever it costs us to make amends is what I'm willing to do. Please don't see it as an unreasonable expectation.

We could not be sure which plants were for certain A.O. and which might have been Goumi, as the plants from several seed batches had been mixed. When we heard from someone that they may have gotten an A.O., we replaced it without question.

Sent on Aug. 2: “I haven't heard from you after my last email to you, so please tell me if you will be around this week to receive a Goumi, and which address we should ship it to. We will send one via Air to arrive toward the end of the week. Please understand that your posting on the Garden Watchdog stings, and I need to do whatever I can to make things right for you. Thanks, Ray”

Sent on Aug. 8: “We would really like to be able to send the goumi to you this week, but haven't heard from you as to which address we can send it to. Please let me know so that we can close this chapter. Thanks, Ray”

We have not heard from [name removed by customer request] again. We don’t know to what address we could ship the plant. The only thing we can do now is give him a refund for the plant, which we have done. Ray"

Negative good2beaok
(4 reviews)
On Oct 5, 2009, good2beaok Washington, DC wrote:

I gather from the reviews their plants are good but their shipping charges are outrageous. They want $17.95 to ship 3 tubes worth $19. I am very familiar with UPS shipping charges since I do most of my shopping online. 3 tubes should ship for no more than $3 or $4. Needless to say I didn't proceed with the order. Very frustrating to go through the whole process only to find out they are trying to increase their profits with ridiculous shipping charges.

On Oct 5, 2009, Forestfarm responded with:

"On Dec 27, 2009 4:57 PM, Forestfarm responded with:

It has taken awhile for us to have contact with this poster, in the hopes of convincing her that what she’s said is erroneous and should be retracted. Apparently that is not going to happen, so we will try to set the record straight.

We don’t know where she came up with $17.95 as shipping cost. There is no such number in our shipping chart. In fact, the cost in the UPS table of $14.50 for this size shipment is not even covered by our charge of $12.85! While we hate to lose money on shipping, we’re definitely not profiteering. And while we can’t know this poster’s motive for wanting to leave her negative rating, we at least wanted to set the record straight. "

Negative nwark
(6 reviews)
On Mar 4, 2009, nwark Fayetteville, AR wrote:

First, I'm somewhere between neutral to negative, with a definite negative lean.

Ordered from Forestfarm mainly because they had all of what I was looking for in one place, even though shipping cost is excessive compared to others for similar size plants/containers. All ordered plants arrived, however one of the rarest most difficult to find plants arrived with approximately 2+ feet cut off the top. To be fair the plant is taller than advertised, but in no way does that justify cutting off so much of the plant. I realize it would have taken a bigger box to ship it, but the weight difference would have been negligible, and IMHO the cost of cardboard would have been covered by the high shipping cost. I would have rather had a smaller un-hacked plant, over a larger plant that I will have to shape back to a single leader. Add to this, the lack of communication, with the exception of to basically ask for more to be added to the order. There was NO confirmation of order until I called and asked. There was NO email with tracking number of the shipping company. Normal practices of online merchants. The website IMHO is illogically organized, that is not at all "user friendly". You don't even have "flowering trees" as an options for category. How many look for those? I would bet it's more than one or two.

All in all, not the great experience that so many have raved about. Could have been much worse, but I doubt I will order from them in the future, and won't recommend them. Only say that they have some not so common plants listed. There are better online plant merchants IMHO.

On March 5th, 2009, nwark added the following:

To clarify as to how I came to the conclusion of 2+ feet.

Dia. at the point of initiation of last years growth = 0.85 CM
Dia. at point of leader removal = 0.65 CM
Measured dia. change = 0.20 CM
Distance from growth initiation to leader removal = 21.5 inches

Assuming natural final diameter of leader at natural termination of growth equals 50% of initial dia. = 0.425 CM

Difference between measure dia. at leader removal to assumed natural termination = 0.225 CM

Calculated additional change to natural terminus / Measured dia. change: 0.225/0.200 = 1.125

1.125X additional growth of the measured non-removed central leader: 1.125 X 21.5 = 24.1875 inches

So an estimated 2'+ of additional growth of the central leader was removed.

What's more this cutting of the central leader contradicts their own planting instruction of not pruning the central leader. And since the plant consists of a single leader (the proverbial stick without branches), this is most distasteful. I may be wrong, but to me this doesn't seem to support the assertion that they care about their plants. After having though about this some more, I'm firmly in the negative category.

On March 11th, 2009, nwark added the following:

About Forest Farms comments:
It had been my intent to let this matter go, with no further comment. I would have been one negative comment, with many positives. Then after their reply, it was my intention to do a detailed analysis of FF's contention of death of the growing tip. But instead I will only state that I disagree for many reasons from extensive research, that they will receive in a D-mail.

As for the rest about pruning/production techniques (University of Florida is very helpful here) etc. have done research on that in the past, and will disagree there as well for many reasons.

In regards to SPAM filters goes, thought of that, checked it daily, didn't happen. No notification for whatever reason.

As for the website, hope it turns out better. Plenty of "plant" people, and other small businesses do better, both large and small. The online part is as important as the plant part. IF done right, it will help sales and customer sanctification.

I do not want a refund as I do have the plant in hand, along with a few others. They do appear to be healthy, and a couple are a bit better than expected, while others are as reasonable expected (a positive). Therefore I can't justify to myself in taking a refund.

All have started to grow (another positive). Too early for my climate, but that is because of differences in climate and has nothing to do with FF.

FF has many rarely seen species listed (a positive), and many you will not find on their website unless you know where/how to look (negative).

For me however, my rating will remain negative as an overall experience. I wish them no ill will or harm in the future, but that future is very unlikely to include me.
On Mar 4, 2009, Forestfarm responded with:

"On Mar 8, 2009 6:21 PM, Forestfarm responded with:

We’ve written to NWArk, explaining the situation. Since he hasn’t responded to us or amended his posting, we’ll post our defense here.

First, we do love plants, and would never wantonly mistreat them. The 1-gallon Cotinus obovatus, often a shrubby plant in any case, that NWArk received was trimmed because the top had died back (although it was still larger than we promised it to be, as he has noted). All Cotinus do that to some extent when they are young plants. Until they are older, the current season’s growth doesn’t seem to harden quickly enough before frost in fall. We could have shipped the whole plant to him, but then he probably would not have liked receiving one with a dead tip, either. We have grown Cotinus for many years, and they always sprout from the stem below the dead part. Sometimes one leader will emerge, sometimes several. It will only take a minute of his time to rub off any sprouts that aren’t wanted, and to encourage a new leader. It’s really not that big an issue. Loss of a leader happens in nature all the time, with various species. Pruning of the leader is a common practice with one of the largest tree-growing wholesale nurseries in the country. Without the pruning, there can be 3-5’ of unbranched “whip” growth, leading to an ungainly tree. Proper pruning encourages formation of a more balanced and esthetically-pleasing head on a tree. Although one should always think ahead when pruning, especially when pruning a “leader”, we do not make a blanket statement saying “never prune a leader”, because it isn’t true.

On to some of the other issues that NWArk raised. Our website does send an automatic acknowledgement when an order is placed. However, spam-blocker software can intercept the message; perhaps that’s why he didn’t receive it. Although we gladly do it if so requested, our website does not yet have the capability to email tracking numbers. We do expect that to happen within a few weeks, however, when our new website is finished. We’re professional nursery people, not techies, so we ask for your tolerance in that our online presence may not be as good as that of some of the large merchandisers, who just sell other folks’ products, and have lots of money to throw at online features.

Our packing, for the security of the plants, means that we use a box that holds four 1-gal. pots. UPS charges us the same, whether the box is full or not. As a courtesy, we try to contact customers to tell them that they can make the best use of their shipping dollars by filling the box (the phone number he gave us on his order form was disconnected, though). We do this as a service to customers, not to coerce them into buying more. It is always the customer’s choice.

We did offer to give him a refund for the price of this plant, although we know it will grow out fine. Ray & Peg at Forestfarm "

Negative 19082
(3 reviews)
On Jul 21, 2008, 19082 Upper Darby, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I ordered from this company this spring, after reading the positive reposts here. They did have a large selection of plants not available in my area. My first problem was that in ordering online, although plants were listed as available, some were not. Also, I had to call to get a shipping date, which was not when the plants arrived. The packaging was so secure that there was packing tape wrapped around the stems of plants, which were unfortunately not all attached to the plant itself. Out of 10 plants, 2 were without any stems attached, and one was dry and dead. I called the company that day either asking for replacements or a refund. I was willing to send pictures of the dead plants, which they declined. After being shifted among several people, I was told to " give the plants a chance to recover", to plant them and if they did not come back to call again in a few weeks. I was told they had a hard winter, and many of the plants were brittle. I did not feel this was my problem, as they still offered them for sale, and a higher price than I usually pay. So, I planted the 3 dead plants, which of course did not ever come back. When I called the company back with this information, I was given the option of either new plants or credit. I asked for new plants and then was told that because of the time, they would now have to air ship and did not want to have the extra cost. In offering me credit, I pointed out that I did not want to wait to next spring to order from them again. I finally received credit to my card. All in all, I was very unhappy with using this company.

On Jul 21, 2008, Forestfarm responded with:


On Sep 1, 2008 9:06 PM, Forestfarm added:

We often ask customers to give plants a chance to recover from the shock of shipping, because most, with just a little TLC, will grow vigorously. We hate to see live plants discarded! Most gardeners understand how resilient plants are, and willingly watch them for a few weeks. When we were informed that the plants did not revive, our records show that we immediately (on May 30) gave credit back to her credit card. The plants were shipped on May 13, and arrived in PA on May 21, only two days after her requested delivery date (UPS’ schedules did not permit delivery on May 19). We’re not sure why, in July, she is complaining! We work very hard to keep our plants and our customers happy, and usually succeed!"

Negative bobnorth
(1 review)
On Mar 26, 2008, bobnorth Coos Bay, OR wrote:

Very expensive for what you get. I was very disappointed at the extremely small size of the plants I received. The "5 gallon" advertised plant was actually a 2 gallon size...the other plants very, very small. I suppose you're paying for a very extensive variety which they appear to have from their catalog. I'd say Forestfarm is a ripoff.

On Mar 26, 2008, Forestfarm responded with:


On Sep 1, 2008 8:05 PM, Forestfarm added:

We have sent a D-mail to “bobnorth” to try to find out which plants he was displeased with, but have not received a response. We’ve checked our customers in Coos Bay, Oregon, and don’t find any purchases for which the plants would have been unusually small, so we really don’t know what he is referring to. As always, if a customer comes to us directly, we’ll try to work out something to make them happy. We do list approximate sizes of the 1-gal. and 5-gal. plants in our catalog, so folks can decide if they feel it is worth the expense for the size of plant purchased. There is no intent to deceive anyone."

Negative donnywebber
(2 reviews)
On Mar 15, 2008, donnywebber Portland, OR wrote:

Three or four years ago I ordered one plant from Forestfarm, it was a Lonicera vine and was our "test order" from them. They must have been so desparate. It arrived so scrawny we couldnt believe it. The plant looked like it was fresh off of the fifty cent table. Two or three stems at most, maybe 1/3 the size of a pencil and about six inches long. By far it still is the scrawniest Lonicera on the back fence, if it is still alive at all--I dont even want it, dont even like it--last I looked it still had only two spindly branches. It is still the huge disappointment it was the day the thing got here. Mercifully, they must have finally got the message and quit sending us their unwanted catalog.

On Mar 15, 2008, Forestfarm responded with:


On Sep 1, 2008 8:04 PM, Forestfarm added:

Although “Donny” wouldn’t identify himself to us, we were able to go back in our sales records to find his order. In Feb. 2004, he ordered one tube size honeysuckle vine, Lonicera sempervirens. Now, honeysuckle vines are never husky—they have very thin stems, but a good root system, and will grow fast if treated properly. A complaint upon receiving the plant (which was dormant) would have elicited our standard response, which is to please take good care of the plant, and we believe that it will thrive for you. If it doesn’t, please let us know. It would be foolish of us to send a plant that would not! We hope our customers accept, as part of the plant-buying experience, that providing adequate fertilizer and water is their responsibility. “Donny” apparently wasn’t willing to do so, yet the plant still was alive, in spite of his non-care of it, years later. We try our hardest to produce plants that will do well for our customers, and most do! Thank goodness most of our customers are willing to provide better care than “Donny” was willing to do (and we thank you for it!)."

Negative Davidsan
(17 reviews)
On Jun 24, 2006, Davidsan Springfield, IL (Zone 6a) wrote:

Yah alot of positive reviews ...maybe alot of folks are use to bad treatment or maybe mine was a fluke ... I was looking for a red scolopendraflorium JM.... well after a couple of emails which BTW were timely ... I was told to take my biz elsewhere ...not in those exact words but that was the jist ...I guess they thought I was too picky but if I was gonna pay over $100 for a JM from a company I had never dealt with I wanted to be sure the tree was worth it ...and the high shipping was worth paying for the quality of tree I was getting ... I HAVE NEVER been treated this badly by any JM internet company.... no resposes ..yes...poor quality plant....yes ...but never told to go elsewhere... I would NOT suggest anyone ever buying here...unless they just buy off the site and trust these bozos to send good product....again I have NEVER been treated so badly over something that was my right know exactly what quality of tree I was spending the big bucks for David

On November 27th, 2006, myersphcf added the following:

I have just read FF response and i DON"T want to get into an argument over this but what they have said is simply NOT true ..I NEVER asked for a gurantee in an email or via phone ...why??? Because I know NO jm dealers offer them except shipping damage...I just asked them for thir best stuff . a photo would have solved all the problems which MANY Jm dealers offer here is a cut and pasted record of my emails and their final response :

Thanks I'll call ya tomorrow got free cell phone time ..I am interested in the 5 gal size long as they are nicely branched and closer to 4ft I will trust you to pick out a nice one for me far as shipping ;>) can't find that illusive chart on site that is mentioned under shipping and 5 gals do not show up as you said, cause you've got so few left ..SOOOO I will have to have you check tomorrow unless you get this and email me back with approx cost 62703 springfield Il (a business address) As long as you have nicer larger plant and the shipping isn't cardio country ...I think we can do biz ..OH BTW thanks for your speedy email reply ...that's a PLUS in internet dealings ...David

RAY....Hope you got my message today ...I did call and got shipping cost is high to get it to Illinois ...but if you have a really nice Scolopendrifolium Rubrum 4-5 ft nicely branched. but not "oversize" that you think is a good buy then I'll take it. I can either call in or email in my credit card info... but I wanted you to check first to see what you have cause with the shipping it's getting up there...but well worth if it's a nice sizesd and well branched specimen...let me know ..and thanks in advance for all your help!!! David

The plants are 3-4' tall. If they were 4-5', we'd have to use our taller box and there
would be a $15 surcharge. Since cost is a concern, and I can't guarantee that you'll
like the plant we'd send to you, I think we should cancel the order. Thanks, Ray

Now there's the facts you make your own choice on dealing with FF or not... that was my experience and I am NOT hard to deal with I have bough t trees from about 6 other dealers with NO problems whatsoever..David

On Jun 24, 2006, Forestfarm responded with:


On Aug 1, 2006 8:34 PM, Forestfarm added:

We’ve been thinking for quite awhile as to how to respond without raising anyone’s hackles, but perhaps that’s wishful thinking, at best!

Do we deserve a negative rating for being honest enough to suggest to this person that he might be happier shopping at a local nursery? When someone asks early in the conversation what is the guarantee if he doesn’t like the plant we have sent to him, our guard goes up. Does this person want us to send him an expensive plant just so he can say he doesn’t like it, and demand his money back? It’s happened, it’s costly, and we don’t wish for it to happen again. So we tried to graciously steer him in another direction—to a local nursery where he can actually see the plant before he buys it. If that is considered to be rude, we’re sorry—we really try not to be. We’d like the customer to be happy with the plant he purchases no matter where he obtains it. Although we hope our plants are considered to be good specimens of their type, we have no way to know if they will meet someone’s notion of how the plant should look—it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to really paint a picture with words.

Negative kamalmisc
(6 reviews)
On Sep 24, 2005, kamalmisc Antioch, IL wrote:

I wanted to place an order with Forestarm. I was confused about their shipping charges (as much as the order itself).
After their reply I decided to go ahead and place the order. In the mean time (within a week) all the plants had gone up a dollar. The homepage didn't mention anything about the rate increase and when I emailed the company asking the reason behind the increase I got a unpleasant reply. I think it is unfair of forestarm to increase rates in the middle of the season without warning its customers.

On Sep 24, 2005, Forestfarm responded with:


On Oct 2, 2005 10:42 AM, Forestfarm added:

This was my reply to Kamal's question as to "what is the reason behind [price increase]":

There are many reasons behind price increases. Fuel/gas/oil price
increases have led to increases in prices in most of the products we use: fertilizer, pots, shipping (which we didn't increase, but are absorbing). Employee wages have had to go up to try to keep pace. So we're sorry that the prices went up, but I think you will see that happening widely through the economy--we have! Thanks, Ray

We make price changes in early August, and prices generally remain the same for one year. Our major shipping seasons are fall and spring, although we do ship all year 'round.

Negative stillmeadow
(2 reviews)
On Nov 8, 2004, stillmeadow lotus,
United States wrote:

I bought a tree - looked ok but did drop all its leaves when planted. A Lilac which looked OK too. But the Monkshood vine was 3 - 2inch twigs. If I am buying root stock I feel this should be stated up front. I was expecting a plant with foliage. The Salvia Nipponica looked like it came from the trash bin. Teeny tiny couple of short branches with what looked like a few eaten leaves. I would be embarrased to have this represnt me as a plant from my nursery. The Jupiter's beard was not in too bad of shape tho I have to say. I guess you can expect a certain amount of dead foliage on plants. I definitely would not recommend them to my friends. I grew over 300 varieties of seeds last year and I know what is healthy and what is not. I will watch these plants and see what becomes of them in the Spring but will not be purchasing from them again which is too bad.

On Nov 8, 2004, Forestfarm responded with:

"We’re sorry that “stillmeadow” felt compelled to post a negative rating here rather than contact us first about their dissatisfaction with the plants we shipped to them. We’re kind of surprised that they didn’t appreciate the fact that our plants are grown outdoors so that they harden off for the winter. Instead of maintaining lush (“pretty”) growth late into the fall, they go dormant naturally so they can withstand rough winters. After experiencing several frosts (25 F), it’s no wonder that the leaves would be falling or not look pristine! The plants are going to sleep for the winter!! We’re rather amazed that “stillmeadow” would base their opinion as to what is healthy on the appearance of the leaves, or lack of them, on plants that are almost dormant. We kind of expect that someone placing an order for shipment at this time of year would accept that the plants might be going dormant. It’s the root systems and stems that we are shipping at this time for the wise gardener who takes advantage of the fall planting window. We are confident that the plants “stillmeadow” received will burst forth with vigor next spring if only they will give them the chance.

On Aug 15, 2005 10:02 PM, Forestfarm added:

We have sent three emails this spring to Stillmeadow to find out whether the plants we sent her last fall survived or perished, and whether we needed to do something to make her a happy customer. She has never responded. We try to provide excellent customer service, but can only do so when the customer cooperates. I guess we will assume that the plants were OK this spring, or we would have heard from her requesting replacements."

Negative Geedavey
(1 review)
On Sep 12, 2004, Geedavey Takoma Park, MD wrote:

I would expect a company as highly rated and expensive as forestfarm to have a better guarantee. I had a difficult time getting credit (not a refund ) for plants that died. It took some persistance to negotiate a partial credit on a few plants.

To Forestfarm, the issue was fault; was it customer or vendor. Their claim (which was pressed hard) was that it had to be my fault because they sell so many other healthy plants. Are their plants created on a factory assembly line? Is every customer a master gardener?

I guess they have made their business decision to be both expensive and have a weak guarantee. I won't use them anymore. There are better choices elsewhere.

On Sep 12, 2004, Forestfarm responded with:

"When Geedavey originally contacted Forestfarm about his order (sometime in mid-summer), his concern was with the Oxydendrum he had received that was turning red. At that time we advised him to try fertilizing the tree, because premature fall coloration can be a symptom of “hunger” (he had not followed the instructions we send with each order). In his second phone call to us, we were told that the Oxydendrum had now died and that both of the Sambucus on his order had also died. We always try to establish the cause of the demise of any plants, so that the situation is not repeated with succeeding plants. We had difficulty getting information from Geedavey as to what the possible cause (we don’t use the term “fault”) might be, since Sambucus at least are pretty tough and rarely die. His order consisted of 52 plants, of which 3 died due to unknown reasons.

We tried to make Geedavey happy by giving him full credit on the Sambucus and 50% credit for the 5 gallon Oxydendrum. We thought we had his agreement that this was a fair solution. Since none of us could ascertain the reason the plants had died, it was most likely some factor in his environment rather than a problem with the plants themselves (the remaining plants of these kinds had no problems in our nursery). Many good gardeners accept a low percentage of loss as part of the gardening experience, knowing that the cause could well be something that they did or didn’t do (and sometimes it just happens!). Imagine our chagrin to see this comment posted when Geedavey had indicated he had accepted the credit we had offered.

We really would have appreciated more details as to why GEEDAVEY believes the plants died instead of his posting a negative comment on this website. Our plants are NOT created on an ‘assembly line’ (nor could they be!), and we supply plants successfully to gardeners of all skill levels (not just “master gardeners”). Our customers are important to us, whether they post a comment or not."

Negative picealuver
(7 reviews)
On Jul 28, 2003, picealuver East Wenatchee, WA wrote:

Don't get me wrong--we love forestfarm and will continue to order from their very complete selection. However, we have begun to notice a trend in that their grafted cultivars do not always do well. May not die right away, but we've lost several over six months to a year.

On Jul 28, 2003, Forestfarm responded with:

"We appreciate the fact that "picealuver" still enjoys our plants. However, it would have been nice if we had been given the opportunity to respond to their concerns directly. There may be circumstances beyond all of our control that may be causing problems. We would certainly like to be given a chance to rectify the problem before the customer felt compelled to give us a negative rating."

Negative rjgmg
(6 reviews)
On May 20, 2003, rjgmg wrote:

paid an inordinately large sum (with shipping) for 2 trees for fall planting. Both did not revive this spring. Have yet to ask them for replacements, will let you know what happens.

On May 20, 2003, Forestfarm responded with:

"After several emails to and from us by " rjgmg", we have been unsuccessful in finding either him or his address within our system. We believe he may be confusing Forestfarm with another nursery. We had requested basic information from this person such as an invoice number, information from the plant label, anything to help assist in satisfying this person. Since he hasn't provided us with any further information, we are left with the conclusion that he in fact did not receive these plants from Forestfarm. "rjgmg" has not responded to our several requests that he modify or correct his posting about Forestfarm, so we are posting this response in our defense."

Negative Pitimpinai
(23 reviews)
On Dec 23, 2002, Pitimpinai Chicago, IL wrote:

I have ordered more than 60 plants from Forestfarm for the past three years. Huge selection at reasonable price. Many are rare. The packaging is exceptional. I needed a large screw driver to remove the large staples and a very sharp knife for the tape. It was a special occasion when the boxes arrived. The plants were always in great condition. Sometimes bigger than anticipated. Insufficient information on planting zone recommendation and plant growth habits forced me to do more research before placing my orders. I found out two years later that the Yucca I received was not what I ordered. The Picea abies 'Little Gem' looks completely different from the ones I received last year. (A neighbor who works at the city's conservatory concurred, so did a few other neighbors.) I called & sent a cutting. The owner insisted that it is the right plant. The Dwarf Mockorange listed as 4' have grown 7' tall and one of the Aster frikartii 'Moench' had yellow blossoms. What do I do with those plants? I have substantially reduced the number of plants odered from them and only after a long consideration. Too bad, I was very happy with the quality & the packaging.

On April 23rd, 2003, nunoi changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:

The 3 Chamaecyparissus, 3 Hydrangea quecifolia, 1 Ilex crenata, 1 Picea abies,1 Yucca from Forestfarm died.

The Yucca was supposed to be a Yucca filamentosa. It had very stiff blades with no filament whatsoever and a sharp stiff spike on each blade that pierced me whenever I tried to weed around it.

The Yucca filamentosa I received from my neighbor has soft blades full of threads along the sides of the blades without a stiff pointed spike.

Other plants that died were just too tiny. They didn't have a chance in the harsh winter we had this year. The Hydrangea did not turn green at all.

I ordered 3 Aster Moench from Park's Seed this year. They came with a huge root system & crown at no exhorbitant shipping cost and already are sending up green shoots.

I will not order anything from Forestfarm again.

On Dec 23, 2004, nunoi added the following:

I have ordered many plants from Forestfarm. Several of them were not true to name. This year, I shovel pruned all the so called miniature mockorange. They all grew to 8 ft tall, way beyond the 2-3' listed.

I have corresponded with Forestfarm re other mislabeled plants, but was not fully satisfied with the response since the owner insisted that there was no mislabelling.

I have learned to be very weary of Forestfarm. With the exhorbitant freight, one would think the plants would be true to name. There is no replacement for dead plants either. What a shame.
On Dec 23, 2004, Forestfarm responded with:

"Thank you for your note to us through Garden Watchdog. We truly do appreciate hearing about problems. Although we don't remember speaking with you, we have followed up on your concern by tracking down where the mockorange plants you mentioned originated. We've found that we originally obtained the starts from a major wholesale nursery that, some place along the line, mixed up Minnesota Snowflake (tall) and Miniature Snowflake (which we try to better distinguish by calling Dwarf Snowflake). That isn't hard to do and, unfortunately, mistakes like this can happen anywhere. They (and thus we) weren't aware of the problem until the plants had time to grow. Other customers can verify that we have stood by our plants being true-to-name in the past by crediting for those that were not. We hope that we did this for you, as well. If not, we hope that you'll give us another try to get it right!

We don't know what made you say that we don't give credit for "dead" plants. Certainly if we sent out a dead plant (which we would never intentionally do!), and were told about it, we would give credit. If plants arrive in good healthy condition and then die after growing in their new location for a few months, we feel it is more likely that something in their new environment caused their demise, rather than something inherent in the plants themselves.

Our guarantee says, in essence: We don't feel it's fair to ask us to guarantee our plants forever, especially over a winter. (If you want a "forever" guarantee, you will likely need to go to a nursery where the expensive price of the plants pays for the guarantee.) There are just too many variables over which we have no control (such as Mother Nature's rainfall, frosts, etc). We do, however, CARE A LOT about our plants and our customers. Let us know if you have problems, and we'll do our best to make it right."
Negative duncanmcalpine
(2 reviews)
On Dec 1, 1997, duncanmcalpine wrote:

I was in search of Golden Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia") and heard that Forest Farm sold this product. When I opened the plant for inspection, I was not pleased with the pruning that was conducted on the Locust. I called and informed them of my dissatisfaction and the color of the Locust versus the species which I encountered in England. They listen, but would not support the customer. The pruning was very poor. I had one main stock, three runners and one branch and the color of the leaves were a green gold versus a yellow gold.

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