My experience with Annies Annuals

A small order of California Native starts (4" pot size) arrived Wednesday from Annie's Annuals -mostly Stylomecon heterophylla (Wind Poppies).  Juli and I saw some last year or the year before and we've been wanting to grow them since.  I've been too distracted to actually do the work of starting my own seeds this year, so I couldn't resist the Annie's email advert.  I had never ordered mail delivery of potted plants before though I had read Town Mouse's report of good results from Annie's .  I ended up purchasing six Stylomencon starts and onesies of three others just because they looked interesting: Phacelia campanularia ssp. vasiformis (Desert Canterbury Bells), Salvia carduacea (Thistle Sage), Madia elegans (Elegant Madia one would assume, though Annie's doesn't say).

Aside: See Annie's slide show of California native plants on Flickr.(Thanks to the mice for pointing this out)

I ordered on Friday, they told me they'd ship on Monday, and I received the shipment on Wednesday.  Speedy, I'd say.  The plants come well-protected in a heavy cardboard box with an inner liner that keeps the 4" pots fixed and stable.  Each 4" pot contains a plastic sandwich bag around a piece of wrapped butcher paper that contains the root ball of the plant.  Your job when you receive the plants is to immediately unpack them from box, bag, and paper.  Then place them back in the 4" pots and water them, leaving them in bright shade.  This was more difficult than it sounds.  The packing materials are durable and some of the root balls are more fragile than others so I am afraid that I might have over-mangled the Phacelia campanularia (Desert Canterbury Bells) roots.  It was coincidentally the loosest root ball and also the second one out of the box when I perhaps hadn't developed a gentle enough technique.

There was some attrition in shipping: one of the Stylomecon had broken off at the soil. See it at the lower right in this photo:

Not to worry, though: The informational flyer that comes with the shipment urges telephone contact within 48 hours in the event of damage in shipping.  Debbie answered the phone and she was so kind and apologetic that I thought she must have anticipated that I would be irate.  Not in the least, particularly when she told me without hesitation that they would ship a new plant out on Monday. 

I hadn't ever ordered nursery starts before and this was a good experience so far.  The base cost of the plants is competitive with local nurseries.  Add in the factor that to get some of these plants I'd have to be both lucky and willing to drive across Los Angeles or farther and the considerable shipping costs seem reasonable.  We aren't shipping books or CDs here.

Thursday I planted three of the Stylomencon at Juli's house.  Photos to follow when they bloom.


  1. I'm glad that worked out well. I'm friends with some people there and I know they are very sincere about wanting people to be happy with their orders. And, yeah, they pack hardcore. I ordered from them when I was a young gardener before it occurred to me to just drive there, 35 minutes away.

  2. I so want to drive there, but it's more live 4 hours and 35 minutes for me.