Updated September 2, 2020
Plants by Mail Grade: B-
Overall rating: 80
Location: Loxley, AL
Why do we list location? This is so you can know, in most cases, where the evergreen shrubs you buy are coming from.
Breakdown of scores from each of the 10 factors we evaluate. You can read details on what each category means and how we score it here.
|Years site Active||9.5|
|Range of sizes||8.5|
Plants by Mail Nursery Review
Plants by Mail comes in at a 80, keeping their grade at a B-. Plants by Mail is obviously spending some time to improve their website and it shows. It's got a lot more features and they seemed to have more products in stock this spring compared to the year prior.
Their prices are awesome and shipping costs are low. We just placed an order for a #3 container for the evergreen shrub Variegated Pittosporum, also known as a Mock Orange. We'll post a complete review with pictures after we receive the order. Our total cost, including shipping, was just $35.97
Just from their prices & ship costs alone, PlantsByMail.com is worth trying out. Having said that, Plants by Mail is still a bit of an enigma to us. They are owned by one of the largest wholesale growers in the country. A very well respected company within the industry. It's obvious that they just haven't focused much on their retail website. We always to find something that makes us hesitate giving a full endorsement. For example, we never got an order confirmation email from the order we just placed. That's just odd!
When we checked on September 2nd, they had a LOT of products out of stock. There's even products listed on their category pages as being for sale only to find all sizes out of stock when you get to the product page. That's frustrating. Maybe they will put more plants back in stock as fall weather approaches.
Plants by Mail Heat Alert
When we added a product to the cart on September 2nd, a message popped up explaining that orders to some states were being delayed due to heat. Here’s their statement:
We decided to start including them early in 2020 because they were making a stronger push to build traffic. They started running some ads on Google. The ads are very generic, but they're at least trying.
Their site boasts being online since 2003. Maybe the look & design of the site is intentional but it is definitely 'old fashioned'. For having been around that long their domain authority, or how Google considers their authority relative to others in the same niche, was tied for the lowest. That's a red flag and kind of confirms that they just haven't put a lot of attention to the site until recently.
We also couldn't find any Plants by Mail product reviews. We didn't look at every product page but we couldn't even find any Google reviews for the Plants by Mail website overall. For an online nursery that has been around as long as they claim, that is very odd.
As of the end of August, the number of plants in-stock was a bit limited. We saw a lot of out of stock plants. They do carry many of the most popular evergreen trees & shrubs. We saw sizes ranging from 1 quart to 3 gallon containers.
As we mentioned above, Plants by Mail prices are pretty attractive. We saw 3 gallon holly shrubs for as low as $36.98. You'll pay upwards of $79.95 at other popular online nurseries. But, here's the best part, their ship costs. Plants by Mail is the only online nursery we know of that actually calculates and charges the true shipping cost. You enter your state & zip code on the cart page & it tells you the shipping. A #3 Wintergeen boxwood was $34.98 plus $5.99 shipping.
Just to give you a comparison, Nature Hills charges $47.95 for a much smaller #1 Wintergreen Boxwood plus shipping. Plants by Mail is also offering free shipping on orders over $99. Just the shipping charges alone makes them a good deal.
Plants by Mail is related to a wholesale nursery, Flowerwood located in Loxley, AL. Flowerwood is very well known within the plant nursery world as a first class operation.
Plants by Mail's guarantee and return policy is also unique. It's one of the most logical & reasonable we have ever seen. You can read it here (it's pretty short) https://plantsbymail.com/guarantee/. Essentially, let them know within 30 days if something didn't show up healthy. They will replace or refund your cost. They also ask you contact them if there are concerns after delivery but don't require a replacement. They will note your order and extend the guarantee. Considering almost everyone else wants to charge an extra 10% (or more - looking at you The Tree Center) for an extended 'warranty', it is very refreshing to find someone treat customers this way.
As someone who has worked with 4 of the largest online nurseries for 10+ years, I also like how they put some responsibility on you after you take delivery. We're talking about a live product. They cannot control weather, watering, planting, etc. after you take delivery. Plants by Mail wording is pretty simple. In this day of Amazon free shipping and returns, it's nice to see someone ask for common sense. Here's what they say; "The customer takes full responsibility for providing care to the plants once in your possession. Customer agrees to open the box and take care of the plants received immediately. Failure of live, healthy plants to thrive is the responsibility of the customer after 30 days. However, please do feel free to contact us for planting and care assistance if you need additional guidance."
PBM Points Program
Plants by Mail also offers a PBM points program. Sign up for an account and automatically receive enough PBM points to get $5 off your next order. That convinced us to register for an account, something we usually resist. You can read more about the PBM program here: https://plantsbymail.com/pbm-points/
We actually just used our $5 credit on the order we placed. So, we got a #3 evergreen shrub, including shipping and we paid a total of $35.97
Overall, there are some concerns but not enough to keep us from ordering from them. And, if they are associated with Flowerwood Nursery, they have some pretty impressive people behind them.
What were the red flags?
- We couldn’t any product or Google reviews. At least not that we could find. That is very odd.
- Plants by Mail is tied for the lowest Domain Authority with an online nursery that was just started 3 years ago. It could just be that the site never received much attention until recently but it is a red flag.
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