This was supposed to be a victory post, celebrating the final stages in this year’s edible landscaping experiments.
Instead, I am writing a cautionary tale of purchasing plants from online sellers.
Back in early March, I went on a buying spree and purchased edible perennials from a variety of dot-coms based on availability and price.
I was most excited to order Maypops from DirectGardening.com. I had previously tried to buy passionflowers from a better known website, but had to cancel the order when I realized most passionflowers are NOT cold hardy to USDA agricultural zone 7A. (AKA my yard.) Maypops are a special variety of passionflowers that can withstand bitter winters in addition to climbing ugly fences, and producing stunning flowers followed by edible fruits.
FINALLY I received the shipping notice, and the plants FINALLY arrived today.
Except… these weren’t the plants I ordered.
Apparently, Direct Gardening was sold out of Maypops. And rather than putting my order on backorder, or heaven forbid, contacting me about the situation, they sent me a substitution.
Of red vine passionflower.
Don’t get me wrong, these are very beautiful, and apparently also have edible fruit. But they are NOT cold hardy. They will not survive the bitter winter winds and ice and snow. The poor plants might survive in Maryland, on the southernmost parts of the Eastern Shore. But not Central MD. Not the greater Frederick area.
No one notified me that this substitution would be made. I could have saved everyone the trouble by explaining that these poor plants will die in the winter conditions my yard experiences. I am horrified that no one bothered to ask or even check if this was an appropriate substitution.
When I tried calling customer service, I got the run-around and no information at all about why an inappropriate replacement was shipped, or why I wasn’t notified of the change. It was clearly just a call center, and I could not reach anyone at the actual company for an explanation, nor could they return my call. This is a horrible way to run a business.
I finally learned that I can ship the plants back for a full refund, but the return shipping is at my own expense. Since I already paid $10 for shipping to get them, I’m sure it will cost at least that much to return them, meaning I have lost half the value of my purchase. No doubt once they arrived, I would be informed they were in damaged condition and I would have nothing to show for the trouble.
I will NEVER buy from this company again, and I am sharing this information to warn others who may be lured in by their low prices.
So I am going out now to plant these poor three vines in the ground, and enjoy them until their untimely deaths this winter.
(**Yes, I realize I could theoretically keep them in pots and overwinter them inside. But passionflowers can grow up to 20′ in a year, and pruning them enough to bring them indoors seemed like just a different form of cruelty.)