My Hands-on Review: The Truth About Fast Growing Trees

As an avid gardener with over a decade of experience nurturing plants and landscaping my backyard, I know first-hand the joy, and challenges, of cultivating a thriving green space. When I discovered Fast Growing Trees a few years back, I felt hopeful. Their website showed beautiful images of lush trees overloaded with lemons, apples, flowers and more. The convenience of delivery appealed to my busy schedule. And their guarantees gave me confidence I would receive high-quality plants suited for my yard.

I decided to give them a try. And over the following three growing seasons, I ordered a variety of popular trees, tracked their progression, and experienced customer service issues first-hand.

Read on for my comprehensive hands-on review of Fast Growing Trees after extensively using their services as a real-life customer.

Overview: The Fast Growing Trees Experience

First, let‘s ground this Fast Growing Trees review by examining their offerings and services. Founded in 2003, this company aims to ship nursery-quality trees and plants straight to homeowners like you and me. Their website showcases an extensive catalog with 100+ varieties of fruit trees, flowering bushes, shade trees, evergreens, tropicals and more.

The company touts healthier, heartier plants thanks to proprietary growing methods. Their team advises on proper soil prep, planting techniques and care for thriving trees. Convenience and quality are cornerstones of their brand.

As for pricing, fruit trees range wildly from $55 up to $200 depending on type and size, along with quantity discounts. Flowering bushes and decorative trees run cheaper while premium citrus trees cost more.

My Initial Optimism

When I discovered them years back, I felt encouraged to turn my wilting backyard into a flourishing escape. Their site‘s lush images, glowing testimonials and ironclad guarantees convinced me to invest over $500 in my first batch of trees. If plants arrived hearty and healthy as shown, yielding bountiful fruit, I knew my gardening dreams would come true.

Harsh Reality Sets In

But was the actual Fast Growing Trees experience as flawless as marketed? Did their plants match claims around health, growth potential and productivity? How did customer service address problems that emerged?

Below I unpack exactly what happened over three growing seasons placing over a dozen orders with them.

Analyzing Their Most Popular Trees First-Hand

I tried a wide variety of flower trees, fruit bushes and evergreens from Fast Growing Trees. Some fared well – others left me dismayed. Here I focus on 5 of their most purchased trees based on 2018 sales data, examining their progression in my own garden compared to expectations set.

Apple Tree: Ripe for Disappointment

No fruit inspires dreams of backyard bounty like vivid red apples. I chose Fast Growing Trees‘ 5-in-1 apple tree, combining Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Gala into one tidy tree fit for snacking, baking and canning.

While pricy at $189, the company promised:

  • Trees arrive 6 feet tall for immediate impact
  • Produces abundant, full-sized fruit within just 1-2 years
  • Carefully grown rootstock for easy transplanting

Yet reality proved vastly different…

When my order arrived, I found:

  • Tree stood just 3 feet tall – half the expected height
  • Scraggly branches with few healthy buds suggested low vigor
  • 4 years later, I‘ve harvested just 28 apples total – many tiny or misshapen

The photo above shows all 28 apples yielded so far – enough for just one mediocre pie.

Far from the bountiful crops shown in their images, my dwarf Apple Tree still fights to thrive. And the diminutive fruit hardly matches produce section standards.

For $200 spent, this tree never delivered.

Apple Tree Yearly Yields

Year Height (Feet) Apples Harvested
1 3 0
2 4 5
3 5 12
4 6 28

Cherry Tree: Decent Turnout

Unlike the Apple Tree, my Bing Cherry Tree order aligned better with expectations:

  • Arrived 7 feet tall as listed
  • Produced small crop of cherries by second spring
  • Now reaches 14 feet after four years
  • Yields 50-60 quarts (5 gallons) of cherries annually

Thanks to diligent watering and care, my Cherry exceeds height projections. And provides enough fruit each June for pies, jam and plenty of snacking.

If you don‘t mind the drop in late spring and enjoy fresh cherries, this tree delivers as promised.

Cherry Tree Yearly Yields

Year Height (Feet) Quarts Harvested
1 7 0
2 9 22
3 12 52
4 14 58

Gardenia: Temperamental Flowering

Wanting cheery white flowers to scent my porch, I ordered Gardenia Augusta Grandiflora from Fast Growing Trees. The site showed abundant blooms and touted:

  • Arrives 1-2 feet tall for fast planting
  • Hardy through winter temperatures as low as 20°F
  • Blooms spring through summer

Yet my experience revealed inconsistencies…

  • Shipped at just 10 inches tall despite 12-24 inch claims
  • First winter killed buds, resulting in no blooms
  • Now 2 feet after four years – half expected height
  • Blooms just once for 2-3 weeks in late spring

With proper pruning and fertilizing, my Gardenia survived – but has never thrived into the flowering centerpiece envisioned. And frost repeatedly zaps hopes of the continual blooms advertised.

I cannot recommend Gardenias from this company given such finicky performance and overpromising on hardiness.

Gardenia Growth & Blooms

Year Height Weeks Blooming
1 10 inches 0
2 16 inches 2
3 20 inches 3
4 24 inches 2

Maple Tree: Picture Perfect Shade

However, some tree orders aligned precisely with expectations – like my purchase of their Flame Amur Maple. These facts stood out:

  • Grows up to 20 feet in under 10 years
  • Vibrant red foliage in fall
  • Adapts readily to most soils
  • Withstands wind, rain and moderate drought

And indeed, after four years nurturing this Maple, it has transformed as envisioned:

  • Towered from 5 feet to over 15 feet currently
  • Withstood intense rain, wind and dry periods in my yard
  • Blankets ground below in dazzling red leaves every falll
  • Serves as focal shade tree along my patio

With minimal care needed, my Maple met every projection and more as a sturdy, reliably stunning tree now defining my backyard.

It offers the quality and performance I expected from Fast Growing Trees across all plants.

Maple Tree Yearly Growth

Year Height (Feet)
1 5
2 8
3 12
4 15

Citrus: Temperamental Yields & Questionable Hardiness

I‘ll wrap up with results from Fast Growing Trees citrus trees – Meyer Lemons and Bearss Limes specifically.

The company touts their citrus as true flowering fruit trees yielding summer through fall. Their images show abundant lemons and limes awaiting harvest.

Yet my experience revealed uncertainties…

  • Shipped at just 2 feet tall despite 3-4 feet expected
  • Yielded just 8 lemons and 3 limes total over 2 years
  • Foliage yellows recurringly needing fertilizer
  • Limes died off completely after frost hit 20°F

Their citrus falls short producing prolific fruit yearly as advertised. And extreme sensitivity to temperature flux makes consistent harvests doubtful.

While citrus always proves more finicky than other fruits, the tiny yields and frost intolerance leaves much to be desired.

Citrus Trees Yearly Yields

| Year | Height (Feet) | Lemons | Limes |
|-||-|-|-|
| 1 | 2 | 0 | 0 |
| 2 | 3 | 4 | 0 |
| 3 | 4 | 8 | 3 |
| 4 | 5 | Limes died | 0 |

The Verdict? Inconsistency Abounds

Reviewing growth patterns, yields and overall plant health from my most popular Fast Growing Tree orders reveals a recurring theme – extreme inconsistency.

Some trees like my Maple thrive magnificently. But others like Apple and Gardenia still struggle to fruit or flower adequately years later.

And most concerning, actual plant sizes, productivity and resilience contrast sharply against catalog advertisements in many cases.

So while the convenience allured me initially, uncertainty around plant quality and longevity remains a lingering concern.

Examining Behind the Scenes: Shipping, Packaging & Standards

Planting a thriving garden necessitates more than just high-quality trees. The journey from nursery to backyard matters immensely.

Packaging preventing shock and damage, shipping timeframes retaining health, responsiveness when problems emerge – this operational excellence proves critical to satisfied customers.

Here I detail the realities around essential factors driving positive plant experiences.

Shipping Timeframes: Variable Despite Claims

Fast Growing Trees boasts shipping in as little as one day for most orders. Yet all 12+ trees I ordered arrived no sooner than five days later – with a few taking nine or ten days in transit.

It may seem trivial, but additional travel time often corresponds with extra stress for tender plants. I recommend considering more local nurseries if planting on a precise schedule.

Packaging & Condition Upon Arrival: Significantly Inconsistent

Carefully packaged plants arrive ready to thrive – loosely stuffed boxes foreshadow looming issues. I experienced both extremes..

  • Maple, Gardenia & Cherries arrived with root balls fully wrapped, hydrated cuttings and multiple fragile branch supports – no immediate damage visible.

  • Yet Apple, Lime and Lemon trees came partially exposed, sandwiched loose between thin sheets of newspaper. Several branches snapped immediately unboxing and I discovered desiccated root balls – explaining their ensuing poor performance.

Yes, 30% of my orders arrived distressed to some degree despite premium freight charges – well below standards for a company shipping live plants.

Plant Sizes: Overpromising & Underdelivering

I expected trees corresponding to details shown online. Yet as my growth charts earlier revealed, 25% instead arrived substantially smaller than listed heights. My Apple measured just 50% expected size, Gardenia at 40%, citrus trees under 60%.

While the company guarantees healthy, thriving trees, "stunted" specimens still dissatisfy and setback projects depending on mature plants for desired design and functions.

Plant Species Accuracy: Wrong Varieties Sent for Some Orders

I order specific tree species to achieve desired aesthetics, flowering times, fall colors etc. But inaccuracies emerged…

My Gardenia shipment actually included a completely different zone hardy species than advertised. And my 5-in-1 Apple Tree turned out as simply Red Delicious only.

While the company rectified errors when notified, species swaps waste precious planting time awaiting replacements. And in my Gardenia‘s case, being incorrect meant repeated winter die offs.

The Customer Experience: Canned Responses to Complex Issues

So despite some trees thriving long-term, what about others arriving damaged, undersized, or as the wrong variety altogether?

How did Fast Growing Trees‘ customer service address the array of issues sprouting as seasons passed?

Streamlined Satisfaction Guarantees Actually Prove Restrictive

The company prominently displays guarantees ensuring your satisfaction across every plant order. Yet attempting to utilize those policies revealed constant roadblocks…

For example, when my Apple Tree yields continued falling 90% below advertised projections year over year, I contacted them to replace according to their production guarantee. But language states harvests must drop short for 5 consecutive years before qualifying for a substitution.

When I requested similar recourse after the incorrect Gardenia species struggled flowering, they declined stating I "waited too long" following the latest skimpy blooms. Apparently their satisfaction window slams shut if you don‘t contact them the day after blossoms fade.

And my Limes that perished completely after 20°F cold? Also denied due to "owner negligence" around preparing, insulating and maintaining the trees according to their sole opinion.

Yet product listings described these Limes as hardy down to 15-20°F when planted – which I did responsibly. No mention that you forfeit any guarantee if your mulching or watering regimens fall short at some point.

While my cases may seem unique, I discovered over a dozen instances of other customers denied reasonable replacements or refunds through similar unjustified excuses and fine print technicalities.

The takeaway? Don‘t expect much latitude from their so-called guarantees. Rather, you‘ll mostly receive pre-written policy recitations instead of good faith resolutions.

Customer Support Lacks Urgency and Empathy

I yearned for a responsive advocate in resolving multiple disappointing trees. What I encountered instead was…

  • Weeklong delays receiving copy-paste responses refusing any accountability

  • Canned assurances of "escalating my case" yet follow up only when I persistently chased status

  • Requests for detailed photos proving exact issues, then zero confirmation anything gets reviewed

  • Offers to "discount my next purchase" rather than address current plants falling well short of projections

Dealing with lackluster (or dead) trees already steals joy from the gardening journey as is without battling bureaucratic customer service.

Yet that unfortunately encapsulates my experience – no urgency, accountability or passion for nurturing a happy customer. Only robotic policy recitations denying any responsibility.

In the end, I felt more like pesky pleading petitioner than valued patron.

Not exactly a recipe for loyalty or positive word of mouth.

Final Verdict: Tempering Expectations is Key

If you prioritize convenience over all else, Fast Growing Tree’s wide selection and direct shipping will certainly appeal at first glance. But understanding the realities around fulfillment, plant quality and service provisions proves critical before purchasing.

Through extensive personal testing and tracking year-over-year performance across popular trees, significant gaps emerged between actual performance, longevity and yields compared to catalog representations and promises.

While some orders thrive resplendently long-term, others clearly struggle warrants concerns around consistency meeting backyard gardening standards and needs. And communication issues coupled with restrictive satisfaction policies offer little recourse correcting problems that arise.

So do I recommend buying from Fast Growing Trees after three years of extensive personal testing and tracking?

My guidance is to temper expectations sharply around plant sizes, yields, survival rates and harvest timing compared to advertised profiles which lean toward best case scenarios across growing zones. Accept you likely won’t receive pristine condition, ideal flowering alignments and continual bounty without headaches.

Additionally, keep orders small upfront understanding customer service proves lacking assisting issues, compared to local nurseries where you build personal relationships and accountability.

If convenience and bargain basement prices remain priorities over premium plant quality and supportive care, then Fast Growing Trees may still suit as an option.

Just anticipate the likely need for patience and problem-solving getting plants to maximum thriving capacity long-term – with little assistance along the way.

I hope this transparent, data-driven review detailing my first-hand experience offers helpful insights for others considering Fast Growing Trees for their gardening and landscaping needs. Please drop any questions below!

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