Almost everyone is searching for bargain items to buy online and save money. Plants can certainly be found on eBay and other websites that ship them bare root. But is buying live plants online a good idea?
Autumn Ridge Nursery in McMinnville, Tennessee
Autumn Ridge Nursery has so many online bad reviews that it’s surprising they are still in business. Despite this, I was drawn in by their cheap prices and ordered a variety of fruit and nut trees that totaled about $60. I chose the option to have my plants delivered within 10 days, but it took almost 2 months. The plants had all been shipped bare root with moist paper towels around the roots. The plants that I received were supposedly dormant, but really, most of them were dead.
It’s a year later and I can safely say that they are all dead except the pineapple pear tree. However, it’s still about 3 ft tall and looks very unhealthy. I truly doubt it’ll ever produce fruit. Autumn Ridge Nursery was very nice about my concerns over the dead trees last year and gave me a full refund.
I have been told by many sellers that plants can survive being shipped bare root, but the mortality rate for the plants is so high that the odds are better at winning the lottery. It’s understandable that it is cost prohibitive to ship a gallon of dirt with each plant. But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
eBay Seller: MixedBlend (store name: Treasured Plants)
Not wanting to buy all my fruit trees from the same place, I also purchased a variety from Treasured Plants on eBay. Interestingly enough, Treasured Plants is also located in McMinnville, TN, but they said that they aren’t affiliated with Autumn Ridge. For $130 with shipping, I bought from them: 2 blackberries, 2 raspberries, 2 blueberries, 3 apple trees, and 2 peach trees. These plants weren’t shipped bare root, but instead had a little baggy of dirt wrapped in moist paper towels that covered the roots. The plants had leaves and looked healthy. These plants survived for a couple months, which in comparison was much longer than those that were dead on arrival. When one apple tree died within the time that PayPal allowed to file a claim, Treasured Plants agreed to send two types of seedless grapes in replacement.
It’s a year later and all that remains alive are: 2 apple trees, 1 peach tree, and 1 little grape plant. None of them have grown even an inch and I doubt they ever produce fruit. Treasured Plants doesn’t seem to be currently selling on eBay or they’re using another ID. Messages to them haven’t been returned.
In shopping around this year between some local stores and a greenhouse, I found fruit trees for $20 each and berry plants for $10 each. Aside from the much improved survival rate of locally bought plants, the price turned out to be better too. The berry plants bought locally were the same price as the ones gotten online. And the trees are comparable in price because they average 5.5 ft tall, which is much larger than the 3 ft to 4 ft trees purchased online. While all areas are certainly different, don’t assume that better deals are to be found online when it comes to live plants. Wal-Mart, Tractor Supply, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and more all carry healthy fruit trees in the springtime at reasonable prices. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.