Is there a better place to buy trees? I check local nurseries (selling 5ft apple trees for $500) but I’m wondering if there’s a cheaper place to get them.
I have nothing but good things to say about the trees I have received
Your best bet is buy trees from mail order nurseries. They sell bare root trees for Spring planting. Southern nurseries also often sell bareroot trees for planting in the Fall although if you are in a zone < 6 there is some added risk planting at this time. Expect prices in the $20-40 range not including shipping. Pretty much all these nurseries are sold out now.
I would be looking in November and most mail order nurseries will have all of their inventory online by the end of December. Try to order as soon as they put their inventory online. Demand is high since the Pandemic started and items sellout more quickly now. Besides Trees of Antiquity here are some other vendors.
Maple Valley Orchard
We’re new to this, but had a great experience ordering from Fedco.
We have the Reference category that includes a nursery list.
We have not updated the list lately but it will give you a good idea.
Also, sometimes, people asked questions or continued conversation on that thread instead of asking in the main Fruit Growing category. This has made the thread unnecessarily long
One of these days, we could clean it up and make it really just a reference for nurseries, no extras.
Sadly i haven’t had great success with Trees of Antiquity. They seem to do ok the first year, but then don’t come back for the second year. Where in Zone 8 are you? state wise, if you are east of the Rockies, then Raintree isn’t really a great option as they will send the trees to you way to late in the Spring.
Bob Wells nursery is good, but to do mail order from them, they only ship potted trees, and the shipping is really expensive.
I have had good success with Bay Laurel.
OGW (one Green World) is hit or miss and can be a little pricy, but their customer service is really good, so i would keep them on the worth buying from list.
Do you have an idea of what you want to buy? That can also help point you to a good reseller. if you want muscadine grapes, Isons is a really good source. I haven’t ordered trees from them, but i have heard some good reviews.
I’ve gotten consistently good trees from Cummins, Fedco, and Trees of Antiquity. As noted, roughly $20-40 per tree. IMO, it’s usually well worth it paying more for a bigger tree.
Managing expectations – You have to be prepared for a bare-root tree, not a tree in a pot like at the local nursery. Prep the hole in advance. Plant the bare root tree as instructed, with the graft above the soil line. Water well until the tree is well established.
Also, the mail order tree is likely to be an unbranched or only lightly branched whip. That’s not bad, it gives you a chance to grow branches where you want them.
Interesting. i can buy numerous under $30 and have never seen a $500 apple tree.
I’ve always had better luck with smaller bare root trees over larger, containerized trees. Less transplant shock, straighter growth, and I can ensure they’re properly pruned if I get them small.
I’m in pretty inhospitable conditions, though, with hot dry winds and pottery clay soil.
I’ll be happy to sell you one
No thanks…I’d sell you 30 for $500 if you came got them. (Actually…only if I have more than one of a variety …or I’d not sell them.) But I do have over 100 varieties and 3 or 4 young grafted trees of some of them.
Mostly I am not trying to sell any trees at this time. But at $500 each, I could find you 300.
While I have never heard of 500 dollars our local nurseries sell them for 110+ dollars. Home Depot/Lowes sells them for cheap but mislabeling in rampant. The time to buy them is during the fall/winter through mail order. Bay Laurel nursery has cheap trees but most are on standard or semi dwarf rootstocks. Bay Laurel Nursery starts presale around September. Grow Organic Peaceful valley has a lot of dwarfing and semi dwarfing rootstocks and I bought buy cherries from grow organic peaceful valley and all leafed out. Downside to them is they do a flat rate shipping of 30 dollars up to 10 trees so it is great if you are like me and bought 5 trees but bad if you want one or two trees. If you buy a good variety One Green World is great and great customer service but you pay the price for them as well. Raintree is more expensive for the trees but is more reasonable on the shipping if you are getting one or two trees. I have heard good things about Trees Of Antquity and Fedco. Most of these places will honestly just buy their trees from Dave Wilson Nursery. They will have you pre-order from them and then when the time comes bulk buy from Dave Wilson Nursery and then ship to you so most of these places the only difference is the amount of pruning they do.
That may be the case in California, etc.
Most of the big box and many other apple trees here are Tennessee produced.
I doubt any of them are ‘organically produced’…but 3 years before production of fruit, can’t see that that matters. They are budded by migrant labor and sold to businesses bare root for under $10 each…cheaper in quantity. In fact, 3 gallon container trees can be had for under $10 to the wholesale customer.
(Or could 6 months ago…I hear via grapevine they too have inflated the price as the spring has gone on and they neared selling out of stock.)
I happened upon this article today which argues that it’s just plain better to start with a smaller tree. Because they transplant better, they’ll usually catch and pass a bigger tree.
That’s true in general. Not just for fruit trees. Small trees can catch big expensive ones in 5 years in so many cases. (The big ones lose so many roots in the digging process is one reason for this…if you lose roots you should remove an equal amount of top growth…but nobody does for a shade tree).
I get perfect trees from Kroger grocery stores but only in the spring. They cost $12… Our peach trees, one produced 2 peaches the first year. Likely too late now. But farm stores also carry them.
After my experience today, I have to add the caveat that fulfillment is sometimes uncertain. There are at least three reasons:
(1) Some nurseries are just sloppy. For example, they can lose orders. Three years ago, England Nursery accepted my order for two persimmon trees, cashed my check as payment, then failed to deliver anything and failed to notify me. They denied that I had submitted an order. I had to send them their own e-mail receipt to get a refund.
(2) Some nurseries manage their own inventory reporting poorly and/or fail to use that information when taking orders from customers. This year, I ordered two apples trees from Fedco; they confirmed the order and cashed the check. Today (months later) I received one apple tree and a refund check for the other. [Something similar happened a few years ago with another nursery, but I can’t remember who with absolute certainty so I won’t offer a name.
(3) Some nurseries give preference to in-person customers. Two years ago, I re-ordered the same two persimmon trees (see #1) from Englands, again months in advance of the planting season. Again, they confirmed my order and cashed my check. Again they failed to deliver the trees and failed to notify me. When I contacted them, they explained that they had sold the trees to a drive-in customer. They were absolutely unapologetic about reneging on my order.
I will add that I never had this problem with any other nurseries. In particular, I’d note that I have ordered at least a few dozen trees from Cummins over many years without a single problem. They appear to keep good track of their inventory and appear to use that information to control the quality of their commitments to customers. So we should not tar all vendors with the same brush.
Some of the little guys lack certain things…still better to buy local if the other things are near equal.
All I ask is that the nursery acknowledge that reneging on an order should not be OK.
In my master gardener training (over ten years ago), we had to take a pledge to never plant a tree or shrub larger than one gallon.