Gurney's Source of Plants?

denninmi(8a)March 20, 2009

OK, I'm SO ashamed to even admit this -- I succumbed to the promotional "$25 off $50" coupon on the catalog sent to me (realizing, of course, that the catalog prices and shipping are highly inflated to compensate for the coupon).

I generally avoid this type of mail-order source due to reputation and past problems with both initial quality and long-term problems of plants NOT proving to be the variety selected (my 'Primrose' yellow lilac proved to be a common purple, and my 'Seckle' pear turned out to be 'Winter Nellis', among other misadventures).

Anyway, this year, I ordered a 'Sundance' apple and a 'Dripping Honey' pear. They arrived yesterday, actually both looked VERY good for mail-order stock. Of course, it might be 5 years before I know whether they're actually true to variety, but at least they are an apple and a pear (lol!).

While the shipping label has a return address of Indiana, where the parent comglomerate is based, the box bears a prominent Missouri Department of Agriculture inspection/certification sticker. That and everything else about the shipment, manner of packing, tags on the trees, and paperwork just SCREAMS "Stark Brothers" to me.

Anyone know if the nursery business for the Gurney's/Henry Fields/Gardens Alive conglomerate is being outsourced to Stark Brothers? Not that it matters, just curious.

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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Don't know about their trees, but they seem to get their seeds from a variety of large firms. And Stark does supply some other commercial concerns. I wouldn't be surprised if Gurney bought apple trees from them. Other nursery stock might come from somewhere else.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 2:13AM
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I too have been tempted to use that coupon for nursery stock, but I have a rule about never buying trees from a company that doesn't list what rootstock they use. Neither Gurney's, Henry Fields, Gardens Alive, nor Starks lists this, which makes me think that they don't even know. And if that's the case, then I definitely don't want any trees from them. I think that I'll stick to companies like Miller's and Grandpa's Orchard for most of my fruit tree orders.

Good luck with your trees. Hopefully they are the correct varieties and the root stocks do well in your soil.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 4:57AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

If you call Stark, sometimes they will tell you which rootstock their trees are on. I don't think the same is true of Gurneys.

My rule is, buy from a company which doesn't list the rootstock only as a last resort - if you just MUST have a certain variety. And you're confident the variety hasn't been over-hyped (common among sources which don't list the rootstock).

Otherwise, it's best to go with the ones which list the rootstock, even if the trees cost a little more.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 6:28AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

My trees from Gurneys have all been decent (for the price), but now i want to know everything so i mainly order from Raintree.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 10:46AM
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I also had that feeling that when I ordered fruit from Gurney's, it came from Stark Bros. The quality has been pretty good, hope I don't have much that is the wrong varieties though.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 11:30AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Dang, did you read the reviews on this place before ordering? They have more negative than positive comments and are among the lowest rated companies out there (except for TyTy, of course).

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 1:53PM
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Yup, Gurney's has had many "issues" over the years. Still, at times, it can be OK to deal with. I've never had problems with their seeds, just with nursery stock being not true to variety or of poor quality.

Anyway, had I paid a bit more attention yesterday, I would have answered my own question. Upon carefully reading the fine print on the Missouri Ag label, it states that the nursery stock originated in Louisiana, Missouri, which is, of course, the home of Stark Brothers. Definitely coming from Stark. As I said, quality seems ok, as far as rootstock issue, these particular trees are standards, so that isn't a concern for me.

Thanks for all of your comments.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 7:08PM
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jerry43(z7 VA)

I took advantage of the $25 off coupon and got two Sugar Pearls Apricots. Didn't think to check to see where it originated from. But both trees were nice but smaller than you usually see for mail order stone fruit. However they were branched and the root system good so I'm sure they will really take off this year.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 10:48AM
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theaceofspades(7 Long Island)

denninmi, contact Gurneys customer service via email from their website. Ask them for an information sheet on the Sundance Apple and Drippin Honey pear you just received. Include your account number.The information sheet tells what rootstock and other info like, zones, spread, soil pref., form, etc. Ask them for a replacement seckle pear tree for the winter nellis rootstock they sent to you. If you have the original order # include that. Tell them it took years to find out the seckle pear variety was not what you ordered it was just root stock. Type in all the info into the customer service box from the link below and they will respond in 1 day with the info sheets and tell you whats up with the replacement seckle pear.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gurneys customer service

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 8:46PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Well, in November I ordered a dwarf fig, pomegranate, and strawberry guava from Gurneys. The guava arrived immediately, and has been growing like a weed since then. I'm happy!! Except just got the fig twig. It is dormant, and quite small, but it's in a container now, and outside in morning sun. The Pomegranate has not yet arrived. Sort of drives me nuts because they are big and gorgeous at Home Depot. Still, I'll wait for my order...........

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 12:57AM
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patsy_b(z8 Tx)

I used my $25 coupon as well as their buy one and get one free selections. The seed I ordered came within a short time. Next came my rasberries. With the buy one and get one free I should have gotten 6 plants. By dividing the canes I got 15 plants that are all doing great. The strawberries should have been 50 plants but I received 60+. The blueberries that came last were smaller than I had expected but are very healthy. I do not know if all are truly named but I have many trees in my orchard that I bought from reliable local nurseries that were misnamed. I know it is not the nursery's fault as they are only trusting their suppliers as to what they are. If they do not produce the product from the beginning to the end they have to trust the original producer. In most cases the better nurseries will replace the misnamed plants.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 6:39AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)


While you're waiting for your Gurney pomegranate, you might want to check out some of the newer varieties - at a local nursery rather than Home Depot. Few reasons for someone in your climate zone to be limited to one pomegranate. You can prune each plant smaller. You can extend your fruiting season, for one thing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Best pomegranate varieties

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 8:49AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

thank you, Carolync1. But you missed the point. I ALREADY ordered it. It's done! Paid for. I just WISH I knew that I could buy these things locally.

And, there is no tag on my Gurney's fig. I have no clue what variety it is. Do I care? Probably not. As long as I get volumes of figs......

The strawberry guava from Gurney's is doing great!! It has trippled in size since I got it. I hope the same for this little fig "twig" I just bought.

But those of us who hang here at garden web, well.. we will absolutely make cuttings or plant seeds of the plants we own. And we might get creative and cross pollinate (me with my roses). You just never know.

Gurney's is a resource. For some it works, and for some it does not.

...and I wait for my pomegranate..............

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 12:56PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)


I think it's fine that you have a pomegranate coming. Most likely, the variety is "Wonderful" unless they promoted it as extra-hardy or something.

You might also want one that ripens at a different time, since this fruit does well in your climate. "Wonderful" fruits late in the season.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 12:58AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Carolync1. TAG!! You made me look!

Evidently my pomegranate delivery from Gurneys is scheduled for this week!! Shipped via UPS
Delivery Estimate: 03/24/09 - 03/26/09

Thanks Carolyn! I'll check other varieties! I just have only so much space, and I want it all!! :-))

So far I have a tiny vineyard for my wine making hobby (9 vines), a strawberry and a pineapple guava, one grapefruit, one lemon, one orange, one lime, a fig, a pomegranate, 8 roses, 2 dahlias, 2 bearded iris, 10 dutch iris, 3 blueberries, 3 raspberries, 2 jalapenos, many herbs, etc. All this is squeezed in and hopefully hidden from the prying eyes of the dreaded homeowner's association. Not to worry, some of these are in containers.

I almost bought property for an avocado farm, but when I did the research on what it takes to grow them, I decided to pay the price at the grocery store.

Lichee is my next wish! And maybe mango.......


    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 1:39PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Wow, Suzi.

You may have to commission friends and neighbors to grow some things for you. Once in a while, I do that. Buy someone else a tree and hope for some fruit down the line. There are just too many varieties.

I checked the description of the Dwarf Pomegranate in the Gurney catalog. "Miniature fruit with full size flavor" "Juicy". 2 foot mature height for the plant. It's certainly not the variety "Wonderful".

Sunset only lists one pomegranate known by the variety name, "Dwarf" or "nana". It's an ornamental grown as a landscaping shrub, and makes small, dry fruit. Tough, takes sun and heat, poor soil. Not sure if that's what you got, but in any case, you should have an attractive shrub. Some ornamental pomegranate varieties have gorgeous flowers. The flowers of fruiting varieties are also very pretty.

Most fruiting pomegranates can be trained as small trees if that fits into the landscape.

I'm also not sure about Lichee in Zone 13. But dream big. Check things out as you have done before and figure out which things grow best in shade, sun, etc. in your climate. Thought about melons? Loquats? You must have a friend with room for some.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 9:39PM
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bucklesnbows(z 6)


I also have a dwarf pomegrate from Gurneys. The species is punica granatum (nana)if you are still interested.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 5:09PM
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