May 29, 2011

In Depth Review of Willis Orchards with Pictures Pt 1

Last fall I was looking to buy some pawpaw trees. Since these trees aren't very popular around here, I had to go online to find them. After doing some research I came across Willis Orchards They were by far the cheapest online. Their pawpaw trees were about a third of the price compared to anywhere else. With the good, comes the bad though. I started reading reviews on Willis Orchards. They were horrible to say the least. But, Alex and I figured that even if 1 out of 3 pawpaws survived, it was still a better deal than buying from a more reputable nursery. They do have a minimum order of $50, not including shipping though. So we ended up spending more money than we had originally intended. I placed my order October 31 and received my trees on December 3rd.

We ordered:
  • 1 Collins Select Pawpaw Tree, 1-2'
  • 2 Eastern Seedling Pawpaw Trees, 1-2'
  • 1 Blueberry Grape, 2 yr old vine
  • 2 White Walnut Trees, 1-2'
  • 1 Pinot Gris Wine Grape Vine, 2 yr old
  • 1 Indian Summer Red Raspberry Plant, 2 yr old
  • 1 Thompson Bunch Grape Vine, 2 yr old
While most of the trees probably won't fruit before we move, it adds value to our home. Or perhaps we'll just risk digging them up and bringing them with us. ;-)

The Lowdown:
When you receive your trees they will just look like twigs. The trees and plants are shipped when they are dormant and without soil (bareroot). Companies ship while they are dormant because they have they don't require much sunlight. Why without soil? - Because you don't want to pay to ship dirt when you don't need to.

I selected Google checkout which for some reason gave me a couple dollars off my shipping cost. I also thought that perhaps Willis spends a little more time on Google Checkout transactions in order to continue their relationship with them. I don't know if this is correct, but it was just an idea.

This is the box all my trees came in. 
I got nervous because it was so small.

Peek inside the top

Indeed, they do just look like dead twigs

I can understand why a lot of people freak out once they get their trees. But, I didn't want rush to conclusions without giving them a chance.

  • Once I received my plants, I unwrapped them and soaked them in a bucket of water for about 3-4 hours. This gets a nice flow of moisture back in the plant.
  • When you order your plants, try to figure out where you want them and dig your holes beforehand. Dig the holes wide and deep enough so the roots have room to spread. Digging loosens up the soil and rocks that are in the area. 
  • Willis Orchards also suggests that you purchase Mycorrhizal Fungi with your order to boost nutrient uptake and the overall health of the plant. At the time of my order, it was listed on their site, now you have to call in and order it. When it was on the site, it was much cheaper to just buy it on Amazon. This is what I purchased. 50pc Ecto Tabs - Organically Based Beneficial Mycorrhizal Fungi for Trees Shrubs  I just dropped a couple in the holes that were dug (quantity depends on how big the plant is).
I didn't plan ahead about digging my holes. So Alex and I were outside, in the beginning of December, digging holes. It was a very good thing that the ground wasn't frozen. Now we just had to wait until Spring to see if it was all worth it.

Part Two of Review