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Comments regarding Swallowtail Garden Seeds

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  Feedback History and Summary  
212 positives
13 neutrals
21 negatives


Negative Apple88
(2 reviews)
On Apr 28, 2016, Apple88 Singapore,
Singapore wrote:

Posted on March 30, 2016, updated April 28, 2016
Seed quality is great but postage for international orders has been increasing rapidly over the years. What used to be $6.95 increased to $9.95 and the current ongoing rate on their website is $13.95 usd. $13.95 for postage alone is really crazy. Not sure if that\'s what is charged by the postal service in United States or that Swallowtail Seeds is becoming a company that charges exorbitant prices for postage. What I\'m sure is that they do not guarantee delivery of the seeds hence its unlikely that there\'s an insurance charge covered within the postage. After an order is placed, I will always receive an email requesting for acknowledgement that I will not hold them liable as the seeds are \"shipped at your own risk. Thus, we cannot be held responsible for any lost or confiscated merchandise. Prior to shipping your package, it is required that we receive confirmation from you agreeing to these terms.\"

On April 28th, 2016, Apple88 added the following:

Great! Now international shipping is back to $6.95 USD!
On Apr 28, 2016, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

"On Mar 31, 2016 8:52 AM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

We can understand the frustration Apple88 feels about the raising prices of international shipping costs. We ship via the US Postal Service International First Class. The current cost of postage to Singapore is $13.25 for a 3 ounce package. No insurance is available for this shipping class. To include shipping insurance, the package would need to be shipped via Priority Mail, which starts at $31.95. "

Negative chlorophyll646
(1 review)
On Jul 1, 2012, chlorophyll646 Tanglewilde-Thompson Place, WA wrote:

Posted on May 17, 2012, updated July 1, 2012
I ordered many types of seeds from Swallowtail Seeds in both 2010 and 2011. My germination rates were inconsistent both years. The first year, I ordered pansy seeds, which grew fine. However, I also ordered many varieties of columbine and had a germination rate of zero for all varieties. I am a botany professor and have a great deal of experience growing plants from seed. I contacted the company in August 2010, and they issued me a refund for the seeds that did not germinate. They told me that the seeds had been professionally tested and shown 90% germination. They also said that they had sold hundreds of packets of the same varieties and had received no other complaints.

In 2011, I decided to try again because I was unable to find these columbine seeds from any other source. Because I had problems in 2010, I kept careful track of the germination rates. 30 days after planting, I sent Swallowtail Seeds the following email:
Subject: germination concerns
To: "Swallowtail Garden Seeds"
Date: Monday, March 7, 2011, 11:11 AM

I placed an order with you a couple months ago. I planted the seeds 30 days ago. Here are the germination rates I have found:

Red Hobbit columbine 26/28
Arizona Red Shades Gaillardia 30/32
Chianti Mix Pansy 17/28
Spring Magic Navy and White Columbie 11/18
Chandelier Lupine 16/16

Origami White Columbine 1/16
Origami Red and White Columbine 1/18
Origami Yellow Columbine 0/16
Illumination Apricot Shades Begonia 0/23
Go Go Mix Begonia 0/40

Obviously, I am very happy with the germination rates of the first set of flowers. However, I am greatly disappointed that I have not gotten the others to grow. I was unable to grow them last year either. I do not want to keep ordering seeds and not getting results. Might you have some suggestions for me?

All seeds were planted in Promix 1 in 4 x 9 cells in flats. Flats were covered with humidity domes until germination. Pots were kept under florescent lights (except for the pansy, which required darkness to germinate) 28W T5 bulbs, 8 per ballast. If bottom heat was recommended (begonia), bottom heat was given. If bottom heat was not recommend3ed (columbine), no bottom heat was used. Soil was kept moist, but not wet. I am a botany professor and have a fair amount of experience growing plants from seeds. We are growing these seeds as a project for my botany course this semester and the students and I are all frustrated. Please help!
I received no response from the company, and so resent my email to them on March 10, 2011.

Again, I received no response, so I sent the following email to them on March 21, 2011:
Subject: Re: germination concerns
To: "Swallowtail Garden Seeds"
Date: Monday, March 21, 2011, 11:40 AM

Dear Swallowtail Gardens, I originally sent this email to you on March 10th, but have not yet received a response. No additional seeds have germinated since I counted them on March 10. I am hoping you can help me. Thank you.
Again, I received no response to my third email.

Now that it is spring again, I would really, really like to try again. However, it is obviously very frustrating to try to grow the same varieties year after year from the same company. I was glad they refunded my money for the ungerminated seeds the first year. However, I didn't want the money, I wanted the plants, which is why I tried a second time. I was disappointed that they did not reply to my three emails the second year (nor obviously, did they refund my money). Does anyone know of another source of seeds for multiple columbine varieties?

On July 1st, 2012, chlorophyll646 added the following:

I could possibly understand missing ONE of my emails, but three? THREE emails over two weeks?! That seems quite disingenuous to me. I have the records of my emails being sent to them, to the same address that they confirmed my order from. It is my understanding that emails are reliable and are even admissible in court. Why would they say on their website that you can contact them by email ["E-Mail:[email protected]
E-Mail questions and comments are always welcome, but please be aware it may take us up to a week to respond, especially during the peak season. If you have time-sensitive inquiries or comments, please give us a call."] if they do not monitor or take any efforts to receive and respond to them. I waited several weeks to receive their response. In fact, I am still waiting. Thankfully, I have since found another source for columbine seeds and have had more than 90% germination. I will never order from Swallowtail again.
On Jul 1, 2012, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

"On Jun 3, 2012 3:08 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

Our email records are not in line with what our customer is reporting. Had we received these emails we would have responded.

We make it as clear as we are able on our web site that using our toll free number (877-489-7333) is the method to use anytime a message to us is time sensitive. We wonder why it might not have occurred to our customer that his/her emails were not getting to us, rather than assuming he/she was being ignored.

Because as much as many of us have grown to accept that email is completely reliable - we know from our own experience contacting customers - that is not. Servers are down, mail boxes are full, typos in addresses can be made.

Our columbine seeds are professionally germination tested; we receive many compliments and very few complaints regarding their performance. Columbine seed must not be covered when planted - and will not germinate when temperatures are too high. Had our customer called us using our toll free number, I feel confident our staff horticulturist would have helped them develop a strategy for success.

If anyone ever has trouble getting an email response from us - please do not assume you are being ignored. It is far more likely your emails are not be getting to us. Our toll free number (877-489-7333) is a no charge, no hassle way to be sure your concerns are addressed quickly and accurately. You will also receive advice that will help you help insure your future success.

Had we had been aware of our customers experience we would have fixed it immediately. When our customer calls us at (877-489-7333) and asks for Lynn or Sandy - we will fully refund the order - which is our standard procedure - it is who we are. To attend to our customer's happiness, to promote their success is our highest calling. It is why we get up in the morning, it is our reason for being Swallowtail Garden Seeds.

On Jul 1, 2012 9:50 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds added:

We have not heard from this customer except through Daveís Garden. We previously invited the customer to contact us using our toll free number in order to receive a quick, no hassle refund. The customer has not done this.

As of now, we donít know who this customer is and to rectify the situation without knowing which order is involved is not possible. We, too, feel frustrated because we want to help.

We invite the customer to call us at 877-489-7333 to receive a refund.

Alternatively, if this customer would feel more comfortable, they can provide us the invoice number through this Daveís Garden post and we will provide a full refund.

If the customer does not have the invoice number, their last name would be needed to make sure the refund was properly applied. They can relay this information to us by phone or through this post, whichever they prefer.

If this customer will give us the opportunity we will fix this situation.

Negative PlantMomto3
(24 reviews)
On May 14, 2012, PlantMomto3 Nevada, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

I really hate to leave a negative review. I have ordered three times with this company (twice this year). I am not a novice and I follow directions. My problem was with germination rates. Very, very disappointing. I order from several different companies and these were terrible. I have a greenhouse and I spent hours preparing flats just so 11 out of 75 seeds would sprout (one variety). I think about 10 carrots sprouted (planted directly in the garden). 6 zinnias out of 72 planted. I know it's not me because my seeds from other vendors had excellent germination rates. I am just at a loss why this happened.

Now I am off to order seeds from the other company to cover my loss.

On May 14, 2012, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

"On May 15, 2012 10:44 AM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

All of our seed is germination tested and 100% guaranteed.

We have no record of this customer contacting usóbut if they had, they would have received a refund or replacement, whichever they preferred. We invite this person to call us now at 877-489-SEED (7333).

We are well known for high seed viability. Great care is taken to manage the temperature and humidity levels of our stored seed. All seed lots are professionally germination tested prior to sale.

We guarantee every customerís seed starting experience will be a positive one.

Negative SeniorGardening
(14 reviews)
On Mar 7, 2012, SeniorGardening Sullivan, IN wrote:

Posted on March 6, 2012, updated March 7, 2012
Posted on February 14, 2012, updated March 6, 2012
Posted on February 14, 2012, updated February 14, 2012
I ordered two small packets of geranium seeds from Swallowtail in December (2011) and started the seed in early January. I did all the right stuff: total darkness, sterilized planting medium; adequate moisture; and bottom heat. The seed only germinated at 32%!

I called Swallowtail in late January and reported the bad seed. They offered replacement or full refund. I took the refund when the customer service agent somewhat snottily informed me the seed was good, as all their seed was tested at 90% germination or above.

A bit incensed, I wrote the owners that day, but have had no response. So...I'm just now posting extremely negative feedback here on Swallowtail.

After three weeks, no refund has been posted to the credit card I used.

Bad seed. Snotty customer service. No refund.

I think I'm done with Swallowtail Garden Seeds.

Steve Wood
Senior Gardening

On February 14th, 2012, SeniorGardening changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:

After emailing Swallowtail today, I received a very pleasant call from Lynn, the co-owner of Swallowtail. A refund has been posted, and she apologized for the incident.

We had a very pleasant conversation about seeds, gardens, teaching...

Sometime in the future, I'll give them another try.
On March 6th, 2012, SeniorGardening changed the rating from neutral to negative and added the following:

The refund Swallowtail promised in February for the bad geranium seed they'd sold me in December still hasn't appeared on my credit March! While the credit card company has 30 days from the request to post the refund, they also advised, "We understand the situation and we would like to inform you that we have not received any refund from the merchant to your account."

Swallowtail says, "I checked with our credit card processing company and the credit has been taken from our account and applied to your card."

There's obviously a problem somewhere, as I still don't have the refund Swallowtail promised for the bad seed. The credit card company has never screwed up like this in the past, so I'm inclined to put the blame on Swallowtail. While they've answered emails and called (but only after I first embarrassed them here with negative feedback), they've not resolved the situation for which they are ultimately responsible.

Swallowtail could have contacted the credit card company to resolve the problem, or pushed their credit card processing company to resolve the issue. They could have even just cut and mailed a refund check to me. But instead, they've chosen to try to put their failure to make a refund on me. So I'm changing the rating back to a richly deserved negative.
On March 7th, 2012, SeniorGardening added the following:

Refund finally received.
On Mar 7, 2012, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

"On Mar 7, 2012 2:42 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

As SeniorGardening reports above, ďthe credit card company has 30 days from the request to post the refund.Ē We contacted all the proper sources, including the customerís personal credit card company, to find that the refund of $10.43 was given on 2/14/12 and posted to their account on 2/22/12. "

Negative vitrsna
(15 reviews)
On Feb 10, 2012, vitrsna Colima,
Mexico (Zone 11) wrote:

Posted on February 9, 2012, updated February 10, 2012
On December 31, 2011 and January 24, 2012 I placed orders with Swallowtail Garden Seeds for USPS international mail delivery to Colima, Mexico. Both times, I received confirmation of my orders and on Jan. 6, 2012 my credit card was debited for my order of December 31. On February 8 I emailed this company requesting information on the status of my orders. On February 9 they responded that they don't ship orders to Mexico (the excuse being that they have trouble with orders to Mexico), although both orders had been confirmed and my credit card charged. So, more than a month after my first order and 2 orders confirmed I learn (only because I requested information from them) that my orders are not able to be processed. I've been ordering seeds from various vendors in the USA for 4 years and have received everything I've ordered via regular mail so I am not convinced of the validity of their excuse. I think this issue goes beyond shipping international orders. I think this speaks to irresponsible business practices. Unless a purchaser is desperate for seeds that SGS has that can't be found anywhere else, I would suggest purchasing from a more responsible vendor.

On February 10th, 2012, vitrsna added the following:

I received a reply from Swallowtail Garden Seeds that said they had "proceeded to send me an email but hadn't received a response from me". In return i sent them copies of an email they sent to me and my response (both dated January 1st). They don't seem to have a clue about what is going on in their own company. I notice in other excuse responses to negative feedback, they have used this same tactic of saying the customer did not respond. It appears the truth is closer to "we don't know if the customer responded or not". This company does seem to make rather elaborate excuses for their irresponsible business practices. There are so many good seeds companies available with which to do business that i would not do business with this company again.
On Feb 10, 2012, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

"On Feb 10, 2012 12:24 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

We are sorry that there has been a lot of confusion regarding this customerís experience. Her situation has been thoroughly researched and below is what transpired:

On 12/31/11 she placed and order online which was acknowledged with an automatic email back to the customer. On 1/1/12 we sent her an email stating our hesitancy in shipping to Mexico. Here is a copy of our email to her:

Dear xxxxxxx,
Thank you for your order and interest in Swallowtail Garden Seeds. We do ship all of our items using the USPS however, we have had some trouble in shipping seeds to Mexico. This shipment will be at your own risk. Thus, we cannot be held responsible for any lost or confiscated merchandise. Prior to shipping your order, it is required that we receive confirmation from you agreeing to these terms. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Best Regards,
Swallowtail Garden Seeds

On 1/1/12 we received this response from her:

Thank you for the note. Yes certainly, I understand that if the order does not arrive, it is at my loss. This is always the case and has been for 4 years now. I have ordered many seeds from vendors in many parts of the world and the shipments have always arrived in good time via airmail international shipping. Colima especially, has the most excellent mail service. I know the postal carrier here and they know me. I hope this note suits your purposes and if more is required, please let me know. Regards, xxxxxx xxxxxx

Given her acceptance, we processed her payment and shipped her order on 1/17/12, via the USPS. In tracking her order, we see that the last activity the USPS has for her package is that it was scanned in Los Angeles on 1/18/12, the last stop before a package leaves the U.S. and is shipped to Mexico.

Our number one goal is to provide every customer with exceptional service and complete satisfaction. In this case we followed the customerís wishes and she was not satisfied. We went above and beyond by providing her with the full refund of $11.42-Ėeven though she agreed to the terms of this shipment being at her own risk. We canít imagine what more we could have done to provide this customer with a positive experience and this disappoints us just as much as it does her. If for any reason our customers are not satisfied with their experience, we are always here with open ears to listen to their thoughts and resolve ANY situation to their satisfaction.

Negative SteffieM
(1 review)
On Apr 27, 2011, SteffieM Princeton, NJ wrote:

Posted on March 27, 2011, updated April 27, 2011
I ordered three packets of tomato seeds. 22 days later I received ONE packet, and an enclosed notice stating that the remaining 2 packets were on back order. Prior to receiving seeds, emailed company twice, and called once, asking when the seeds would arrive, and expressing annoyance with long wait. Never received a response. With receipt of single packet, they deducted the cost of shipping due to the back order. This is seedling time, it's almost too late to start the seeds I received, and the back ordered seeds are useless for this year. I will ask for a refund, don't want the back ordered seeds. Don't want to support this company. Seeds and plants are subject to growing seasons. All other seed and gardening catalogs I've ordered from respect gardening timetables.

On April 27th, 2011, SteffieM added the following:

To re-confirm: terrible company. Order date, March 11. Received last two seed packets on April 13. Sent several increasingly irate emails (also two more phone calls to their answering machine) asking to cancel the remaining order, refund money and NOT send the two seed packets. Also informed them that if the order wasn't canceled I'd add to this negative review. Do I need to note that I received no response? Next will write to the Better Business Bureau.
Dave's Garden provides a wonderful review service. There are so many excellent gardening companies with living customer service employees and respect for their clients.
On Apr 27, 2011, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

"On Apr 27, 2011 2:53 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

During peak season, we are inundated with emails that range from the simplest questions to the biggest issues--and they come in 100s at a time.

On our web site we direct customers to call us on our toll free number with any time sensitive issues because we do not want what happened to this customer to happen at all.

We are not aware of any messages left by this person on our voicemail.

We have refunded this customer the entire amount of her order.

This is the same course of action we take for anyone who contacts us by phone during our staff assisted business hours of 9:00am to 4:00pm Pacific Time, Monday through Friday. Our standard practice is to resolve any issues, to the customerís satisfaction, as soon as possible.

Negative utbiochemiss
(1 review)
On Apr 26, 2011, utbiochemiss Novelty, OH wrote:

It takes a lot to push me to make the effort to go and make a comment about a business, but Swallowtail really deserves some serious criticism. First, they billed me for items that were out of stock/discontinued, no longer available - even though they let me place them on my order. Second - they sent me what they called a "free gift" to replace the seeds that weren't available - these seeds were the same except not the color I wanted - and not even close. What really gets me is - how are these free? This "free gift" is to replace the seeds they billed me for but are not available - how is that free? How about keeping your seeds and refunding the charge!! The worst part is that I spent $140 with their company and the seeds that they DIDN'T have were the ones I really needed the most..Also - other comments on here about not being able to get ahold of these people are accurate..NEVER AGAIN.
Faye Martin, Novelty Ohio

On Apr 26, 2011, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

"On Apr 26, 2011 8:34 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

We are really sorry to hear this person has felt this level of frustration and disappointment. It is possible that we charged for an item we didn't have in stock, given the high volume of orders this time of year. However, it is our policy to refund an item in full, and we frequently provide a free gift as a show of good will.

We invite this person and anyone else who feels like our performance has come up short in any way, to call us on our Toll-free number: 877-489-SEED (7333). Customers who have done this have always found we fix their issues to a degree far beyond their expectations.

Our products are unconditionally guaranteed, and we are absolutely dedicated to each one of you having a positive experience with our company. If you give us a call and give us a chance, we promise to turn what may seem like a negative situation into a positive situation. We are not immune from making mistakes, but from our years of seed-selling experience, we have become exceptionally good at fixing problems, once given the opportunity.

Please, let us surprise you with our generosity and good nature. Give us a call.

On Apr 27, 2011 3:45 AM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds added:

Investigation into this order proved somewhat difficult, as the customer used a different last name than "Martin" when placing this order.

However, we were able to fully document the following:

1) Her credit card was initially declined.

2) Attempts to reach her by phone were not successful, as the phone number she provided on her order was not in service.

3) By the time we did receive a valid credit card number (approximately 3-4 weeks later), one of the 33 items she ordered had gone out of stock.

4) She was informed by email prior to shipping that one of the items she ordered was no longer available. She was issued a full refund for that item and we included a free gift that we believed she would appreciate.

We can make errors occasionally and when we do , we are quick to take responsibility and fix them.

In this instance however, it appears we acted entirely properly and professionally, and any disappointment this customer may be experiencing seems to be due to a declined credit card and an out of service telephone.

We don't expect an apology from this customer, we do believe we deserve one.

Don McCulley (Owner)
Swallowtail Garden Seeds"

Negative Petunia_Garden
(1 review)
On Mar 29, 2011, Petunia_Garden Houma, LA wrote:

Ordered from 3 other suppliers from across the country days after ordering from here and recieved my seeds. Have not heard anything from this company other than taking my money and not answering my phone calls or emails.


On Mar 29, 2011, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

"On Mar 29, 2011 10:21 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

2011 has already been an amazing season for us. After implementing major changes in the last half of 2010, we are currently on a pace to post our biggest sales year in our 13 year history, sometime this April - in just the fourth month of the year.

We have filled well over 7,000 seed orders from January 1, 2011 through the end of March, 2011. A handful of these thousands of gardeners have commented here on this site, many positive, a few frustrated.

For those who are frustrated, we are truly sorry. We do regularly waive shipping charges, give free gifts, and generally do everything we can to make your experience positive. If we fail to satisfy, it hurts us.

The posts here are anonymous, so we cannot comment on any situation in particular, but we can say that we are not aware of unreturned phone messages. I know personally, that we have talked to many of you, multiple times per week, as you plan your seed order.

And please, before you take it for granted that we are difficult to reach, call us using our toll free number 1-855-726-SEED (7333) and decide for yourselves. We are in the Pacific Time Zone, and our staff assisted phone hours are 9am to 5pm. I think you will find we are easy to reach, eager to help, and if you should find it necessary to leave a phone message with us, it will be returned promptly, during our business hours.

We don't take people's money, we are about providing a valuable service, in a professional manner. If you ever feel we have not lived up to this standard, any customer can call us, and money spent will be promptly refunded, and you can keep the seeds, as a gift from Swallowtail Garden Seeds.

We have found that selling seeds is a poor way to get rich, but a rich way to live our lives.
To all of you who have sparked our growth, and raised our optimism for the future, thank you. What you have done for us is beyond words. If it isn't always perfectly clear the way we feel about you, then I am so sorry. We care deeply about your experience with us, as well as your success and joy in the garden.

Don McCulley (Owner)
Swallowtail Garden Seeds


Negative crochetedgirl
(1 review)
On Apr 26, 2010, crochetedgirl Holland Patent, NY wrote:

I have made purchases from this company for 3 years with good results. This year they said they sent out my order in 2 shipments, and gave me confirmation numbers, but only one of the shipments was ever sent out. I called 4 times requesting them to call me back. They never did. They had charged me the entire order. I told them they needed to ship me the items they never sent, they did send me the seeds, but they rebilled me again. I tried calling them 2 more times, and they never returned any phone calls. So I contested it with my credit card company, and they couldn't contact them either! The credit card company refunded my money as a reliable customer! I will not buy from them again!

Negative janmalysz
(3 reviews)
On Apr 7, 2010, janmalysz Warsaw,
Poland wrote:

I placed an order with Swallowtail Garden 11. 01. 2010
Order accepted.
My repeated inquires given no result. I never got a response.
I can no longer put up with the different treatment according my order
and 3.04 2010 I cancel my order.

Negative chigeritch
(4 reviews)
On Apr 6, 2010, chigeritch Shawnee, KS wrote:

I find myself very disappointed with the custom service, or rather lack thereof, at Swallow tail seeds this growing season of 2010. Having ordered from Swallowtail in 2009 with great results I did not hesitate to place another order this season back on 1/8/2010. Received part of my order on 1/15/2010 with a note that the rest of my order was back ordered and would be sent in two to three weeks. The back order never came, when contacted; the only response from the company (Lynn) was they would check into it. Yesterday I finally received one of the three packages of seeds on the back order, with a note that the others were out of stock. I'M SORRY; when I contacted the company about my back order the other seeds were still available, as I had checked. Swallowtail seeds have some issues on following up on ordered out. The seeds I received yesterday should have been started a month ago to be ready to transfer into the garden and do me no good at this point in the growing season.

Having checked out Dave's Garden watchdog website, I am obviously not the only gardener very disappointed in Swallowtail's lack of follow-up on orders out. I will not be ordering from Swallowtail seeds again and will be sharing my experience with other gardeners, so they too, do not find themselves disappointed with their seed ordered from this seed company. To many good seed company's out there to do business with to mess with one with poor customer service.

On Apr 6, 2010, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

"On Apr 6, 2010 3:37 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:

This customer had issues with 2 of the 13 items ordered. One was a back-order for which our grower experienced a crop failure, the other item we did send late.

When we heard from this customer today we promptly refunded the full amount of her order, over $35.00. When addressing customer concerns we always err on the side of generosity. We did this before we saw this posting on Dave's Garden.

While we recognize Daveís Garden as a valuable venue for people to express their opinions, because March was easily the busiest month in our 11 year history, and because the responses we hear (provided to us directly) from customers remains overwhelmingly positive, it is that feedback which feels most meaningful to us.

So yes we did send 1 $3.95 back-order late (but in our estimation and own experience in our gardens not too late to plant as it is very fast growing) and because the customer was dissatisfied we refunded the entire order. We are sorry to have upset you.

On Apr 6, 2010 3:37 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds added:

This customer had issues with 2 of the 13 items ordered. One was a back-order for which our grower experienced a crop failure, the other item we did send late.

When we heard from this customer today we promptly refunded the full amount of her order, over $35.00. When addressing customer concerns we always err on the side of generosity. We did this before we saw this posting on Dave's Garden.

While we recognize Daveís Garden as a valuable venue for people to express their opinions, because March was easily the busiest month in our 11 year history, and because the responses we hear (provided to us directly) from customers remains overwhelmingly positive, it is that feedback which feels most meaningful to us.

So yes we did send 1 $3.95 back-order late (but in our estimation and own experience in our gardens not too late to plant as it is very fast growing) and because the customer was dissatisfied we refunded the entire order. We are sorry to have upset you."

Negative l_m_stephenson
(9 reviews)
On Mar 31, 2010, l_m_stephenson Saint Louis, MO wrote:

Bad customer service. I ordered about 35 dollars worth of seeds and the bulk of the order shipped within a couple of weeks. I have had pretty good germination rates with the bulk of the seeds.

The negative review is because one of the seeds was backordered and a note said it would ship within 2-3 weeks. That is fine, backorders happen. However, after well over 6 weeks passed and the seeds didn't show up, I emailed the company. No reply (its been a week). I called the company a few days ago and the represenative said she would check on this and call me back (I gave her two phone numbers). Guess what? No call or email response. As it is only one seed packet, I will probably just write this off... However, I am thankful that it only cost me a couple of bucks to find out how bad this company is. Some people have paid a lot more! This kind of lousy customer service is inexcusable....

Negative bjplack
(9 reviews)
On Mar 18, 2010, bjplack Benton County, AR (Zone 6b) wrote:

I'll never order from them again. I had success with 12 other companies seeds. Yet Swallowtail's Campanula,and Rockcress seed resulted in zero success. Zero success twice with customer service as well.

Negative brewster6
(2 reviews)
On Mar 4, 2010, brewster6 Ocean Springs, MS wrote:

I made a small seed order with this company (thank god) back in January 2010. I waited the customary 2 weeks and then after another week I e-mailed as to what happened to my order.A person named Lynn answered and said she would check on it.After another week or so with no responce I e-mailed again, Lynn responded that she was still checking and that I would get a answer in 24 hours.After a couple of days with no word I wrote again, no answer.I wrote again and this time I told them my patience was running low and If I did not hear from them I would consider the case closed and write my loss off as a bad experenice.I also told them I would write a neg. report to the garden watchdog.Thinking this might get someones attention. Either nobody cares or they have all gone on vacation.I had high hopes with this company because the positive reports out weight the negitives.But my experenice was negitive.

Negative ellenr22
(2 reviews)
On Feb 8, 2010, ellenr22 Whitehouse, NJ wrote:

I placed an order online with the company. Within an hour I changed my mind, and called to cancel. And e-mailed the cancelation. Over the next 7 days I called and e-mailed. I never got a response. There was only an answering machine no matter what time of day I called.
Then they e-mailed me that the product had shipped. Finally on day 8 I sent a letter to the Better Business Bureau and faxed a copy of the letter to the company. Within one hour I got a call from the company: "sorry sorry sorry".
No explanation, just we're sorry and we'll refund your money. And told me to keep the seeds.
When the seeds arrived I was amazed that in a packet that was labeled 75 seeds, there were 25, in a packet label 30 seeds, there were 15.
How does a company get away with this?!

Negative socaligardener
(1 review)
On Jun 5, 2009, socaligardener Long Beach, CA wrote:

I spent $60 worth of money on a variety of seeds and I followed explicit planting instructions provided on the seed packets. I diligently checked seedlings everyday and once I noticed a few sprouting I also noticed they immediately started to wilt and die. This happened to all seedlings across 15 different cellpacks that I had planted the seeds in, offering partial light, full light or darkness as per the instructions. A month into this process and with no results, I contacted Swallowtail and expressed my concern and left a voicemail. I received a callback from a woman who said she would talk the manager about how to handle my situation and instead they never called me again. I called back and left a voicemail saying I was waiting to hear back to resolve this situation (I wanted a refund but never even got that far in discussing since once they realized I was not happy with the results, they decided to duck for cover and never return my calls.). I continued to nurture the cellpacks for ANOTHER TWO MONTHS but there were no signs of growth at all from the seedlings and I had bought approx 17 different types of seeds for Spring planting, and I planted in Spring in mild California weather. It was a COMPLETE WASTE of TIME AND MONEY and worse, Swallowtail Gardens feels they are too far above their customers to resolve any situations. They just can't be bothered with you. Spend your money elsewhere as there are plenty of other seed companies out there. I suggest which is Franchi Seeds. I found them at the Los Angeles Botanical Gardens Show this year and they are great.

Negative baliangel
(1 review)
On Jun 3, 2009, baliangel Knoxville, TN wrote:

On may 9, 2009 I placed an online order. I did get a confirmation and the product would be delivered by May 12.
It is now June 3rd and I do not have the seed I purchased. I have called, left messages, and emailed this company , no response. I did leave a message each time I called, due to "high call volume". I have no response, and no seed. I did call them again before posting this comment.
I do understand this is a busy time of year for them. But, Im coming up on a month of waiting on my shipment. All I have asked is for help with this situation of why I do not have my shipment.
I feel I have given adequate time for a response. I did give more time than I normally would due to the time of season it is .

Negative bigcee
(1 review)
On Oct 30, 2008, bigcee Casa Grande, AZ wrote:

In the past month I have ordered 2 small orders with this Company and both times I had to call to find out when my order would arrive. I never got to talk to a rep, just leave a message. E-mails go unanswered. Both time it took over 10 days to get from Cal. to Arizona. If you have LOTS of time, these are your folks.

Negative Lala_Jane
(3 reviews)
On Mar 6, 2008, Lala_Jane North West, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is the first time I have ever left negative feedback for anyone anywhere. And I hate it. But I feel that I must express my disappointment.

On Feb. 2nd I sent Swallowtail Garden Seeds an email telling them that I'd had extremely low germination on a packet of their coleus seeds. I asked their advice on whether they thought the seeds might still sprout (it had been 3 weeks,) or if they thought should I replant. After 5 days with no response I sent another email asking if I could get the seeds replaced.

The next day I got a reply telling me, "As our seeds are guaranteed, of course you can get a replacement." Fast forward 4 weeks. No replacement seeds sent. No contact from Swallowtail Seeds.

On March 3rd I sent another email asking if I'd gotten lost in the shuffle. Again no response. This morning I sent yet another email guessed it. As of this writing there's still been no response.

By reading through their past feedback this company has a pretty good reputation. I'm not sure why I've been given such poor customer service but it is certainly frustrating and I will not be ordering from them again.

Negative turtle_girl
(3 reviews)
On Feb 20, 2007, turtle_girl Westminster, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have to agree with kqcrna in Cincinatti. I've yet to figure out why this company is so highly rated...and I'm fairly easy to please. My initial reaction was to give them a positive rating with suggestions on how to improve their website and customer service. However, problems with my order and a lack of communication from the company have soured me on this experience.
To top it off, I had to spend several hours of my free time doing research on how to grow their seeds because the packs often lack such basic information as planting depth, sowing time, or frost hardiness.

I placed a large seed order with them on 1/19 because of all of the positive ratings they got on this site. It took over two weeks to get the bulk of my order (a bit long, but expected). Part of the order was sold out and part was on back order. It would have been nice if they would have noted this on their website or at least sent me an email letting me know this so I could order from another source. The back ordered items were supposed to be sown in late January.

More than a month later, I've yet to receive them...However, I was charged at the time of my order. I'm not uptight about the money so much as I just find it to be a bad business practice.

Additionally, you can't check the status of your order online, so I called them a week ago (Not a toll-free call) to check on my back-ordered items. I received an Email back letting me know I should get the rest of the order "soon"...I guess they couldn't be bothered with the time or expense of returning my phone call. I'm still waiting for my seeds.

On February 22nd, 2007, turtle_girl added the following:

Though I appreciate the amount of work and dedication that goes into running a small business, there is a certain level of service that is expected of any establishment large or small. I don't feel that level was met in the way this company handled my order, especially compared to the service I've received from similar companies.

I also appreciate this company's high standing among DG members, but I can only speak for my own experience. Anyone researching this organization will see that it was unique.

Lastly, if this gentleman had put even half as much time and effort into communicating with me about my order as he did to responding to a "negative" rating on this site, I would have given his company a glowing reference. I don't want a refund. I just wanted a little communication and some information on how to sow the seeds I ordered.

My back ordered items finally arrived yesterday. If I get decent germination rates, I will change my rating to neutral.
As it is, my rating stands. Here is a further explanation as to why:

-Although the company does indeed have an impressive selection, there is no search engine to weed through it (something which is fairly standard in online retail) (Note: though I never mind browsing through seed catalogs, this makes ordering difficult because of the next issue)
-If you take too long trying to find everything you want, their website empties your "cart" and you have to start all over again
-Although they do offer a toll-free fax line for placing orders, their customer service phone line is not free to the customer (again, something which is fairly standard in any retail)
-Order processing is very slow compared to other seed companies (Case in point: I placed similar sized orders with Territorial and Swallowtail on the same day. Territorial shipped my order within two days and sent me an email to let me know it had shipped. Swallowtail shipped my order two weeks later and sent no email.)

Deal Breakers (for me):
-One of the items I ordered was sold out for the season and another was on back-order. The company did not notify me of this until almost 3 weeks after I placed my order and I received the rest of my seeds. Because their products are time-sensitive, someone from the company (or even an automated email) should have let me know this so I had the option to order elsewhere and still get the seeds in plenty of time to give them a good start.
-I called them (2/12?) to find out what was going on with my back-ordered items and asked that someone return my call. All I got back was an email saying they planned to send out the rest of my order later that week and I should get it soon. As of 2/20, my seeds were still MIA and I had heard nothing more from the company on whether they had even been shipped.
-Only a few of the items I ordered contained information on ALL three of the basic seed sowing questions (how deep to sow the seed, how many weeks before last frost to sow it, and how many weeks before/after the last frost to transplant it). Though their site does contain a very detailed and helpful page on general seed starting information, I needed info specific to what I was planting. I'm not a novice, but I also don't know all that info by heart. I ordered three dozen varieties of seeds from this company alone. The owner's suggestion that I call him for that info seems a little unrealistic, especially considering I couldn't even get someone to call me back about the status of my order.

On Feb 20, 2007, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:


On Feb 20, 2007 6:53 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds added:

First: We are a family run business and we sell seeds because we love it and we are certainly disappointed if anyone is unhappy. If this customer will contact us we will refund their money and they can keep all their seeds from their "large" order and it will cost them nothing. And they didnít have to post to get this deal, we offer this to everyoneóit is our standard way of doing business.

I am not sure who this is posting so I cannot address their concerns specifically. But we are here during the week to give planting advice (so there is no need to check reference books if you don't want to) and we respond by e-mail (usually within 24 hours) if you don't want to use the phone. However, it is my own opinion that the planting instructions on the packets are more than adequate and we have a great seed starting page on our site also (several Universities use it in their own programs). Perennial flowers on our retail (non-professional) site have winter hardiness ratings so you can become familiar with them before you buy and we have a zone chart on the site so you can see if the plant is right for your area.

We only charge for back-orders if we believe we are getting the item in very soon. But we sometimes get disappointed too. Crops fail, promises made to us by other companies to fill the void can't be fulfilled (and we understand this, no blame intended--this is Christmas time in the seed business and there is extraordinary demand for a limited number of resources). And sometimes our back-order date isn't met. We are not perfect.

When we tell someone to expect their seeds soon it means that the seeds have already shipped via U.S. mail and at the time of time of inquiry the delivery is still well within the normal shipping time. We do ask the person to keep us posted so if a problem does appear we can fix it. But it is true we get the credit when the Postal-Service is unusually fast and we get the blame when it is unusually slow. Neither is fair.

But a last point and I want to be very clear on this. We have a good rating because we earned it. We respond to customers quickly, we offer a 100 percent unconditional guarantee, we offer unusual varieties (over 4,000 counting our bulk section, and over 1200 retail). We cultivate a culture of caring about what we do and how we do it within the company.

It truly doesn't matter to me what our Dave's Garden rating is, it does matter to me that we behave here at Swallowtail Garden Seeds with integrity: both in the quality of the products we offer and how we treat our customers. And by that measure I feel very good about what we are doing and who we are.

To all of you, have a wonderful season. You have shown us extraordinary support over the past few years. And it is very much appreciated. And as stressful as spring can be for both growers on schedules and suppliers I hope we can all find it in us to be kind to each other and make a genuine effort at productive communication. We guarantee everything we do unconditionally, and that will hopefully ease at least some of the natural stress of the season.

Happy Spring and whether buying from us or another supplier, please really make a commitment to enjoy yourselves as you discover or rediscover the miracle of the seed.

Don McCulley
Swallowtail Garden Seeds"

Negative Plant_Geek
(3 reviews)
On Jun 26, 2005, Plant_Geek Chardon, OH wrote:

Over priced seeds that did not come true to type. Poor customer service.

On Jun 26, 2005, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:


On Jun 26, 2005 8:42 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds added:

It is our commitment that any customer who contacts us with issues about "true type," germination or any other concerns about the quality of their experience with our seeds will be dealt with quickly and generously. Although we don't have a record of shipping to Chardon Ohio within the past 3 years (we do understand the shipping address could have different) we have contacted this person through this web site and offered a full refund.
This is terrific site and we certainly encourage anyone with opinions about us to post. We do ask however, if you have a problem, to at least consider coming to us first. In almost all cases, customers are pleasantly surprised at how far we will go to make things right. We can make 99 out of every 100 customers happy, but we will always be sad about the one we missed. If we are aware of a problem, we fix it...always. "

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