What's the scoop on... Before you order trees

It’s that time of the year again when nursery catalogs will soon be out and we are online shopping for fruit trees. Before you order trees this year remember to type in What’s the scoop on xyz nursery on Google and see what Dave’s garden has to say or whatever source you use. Companies are bought and sold overnight so it pays to google a bit. It’s a lesson most of us learned the hard way a time or two.


Many of the nurseries get to know you and appreciate your patronage. Most of the nurseries I order from have been around for quite a while. I guess you can never know who is going to be the next owner of the nursery. I have found that I get what I pay for; a very good rule of green thumb.

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That’s a good reminder for me to mention something I learned a couple weeks ago. Rolling River nursery is being sold by the family which has run it for years. When I ordered jujubes from them, I spoke briefly to Corrina (one went out of stock) and she mentioned this. She said that the business was starting to get a bit too big for the family, especially after the death of their son (very sad stuff- a car accident while driving to university).

Good family businesses like that are the ones that seem to change hands. The huge nurseries are getting bigger and offer 5-6 varieties of pears and about the same in apples. Disappointing to hear this news.

Don’t ever buy anything from “Tennessee Online Nursery.”


Or TyTy, or Aaron’s Farm, or (fruit name) Nursery.


I’d add Willis Orchard to that list.

Great reminder/suggestion. I’d also like to encourage folks to take the time to give reviews of the nurseries they order from. I’ve only bought from a few, but I’ve reviewed them all on Dave’s. After all, doing the check that Clark is suggesting will only be useful if lots of people take the time and trouble to actually do a review and rating.

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CityMan, good idea.

I have had GOOD experiences with the following nurseries:

-Cummins of Ithaca, NY
Everything about this place is good.

-Boyer’s of Biglerville, PA
Website is never up to date, but the place is great to visit; the people are nice; and the stock is excellent.

-White Oak of Strasburg, PA
Most of the stock is excellent; the people are friendly; but no website. You have to phone or visit. Pickup directly from the nursery to save on shipping.

-Ison’s of Brooks, GA
Another top notch nursery. Good plum selection.

-Fedco Trees of Waterville, ME

-Rabbit Ridge of Coats, NC

DWN affiliates (good stock):
-Bay Laurel

Just to name a few of my favorites.

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It seems like I always get lots of people who strongly disagree when I say this, and clearly @SMC_zone6 is one of them, but I in my own personal limited experience I’ve had really good experiences with Willis Orchards. I know I’m in the minority, but I’ve always got large, healthy trees and the few that haven’t survived they have replaced with absolutely no complaints or questions. I’ve also had good luck with edible landscaping and Grow Organic.com (Peaceful Valley). Mixed results with Stark Brothers.

I can’t believe anyone still buys from TyTy. You’d think even the least informed buyer on the planet would do a tiny bit of googling before ordering from a company, and just about any type of web search will turn up countless horror stores about that company and the shell companies they sometimes operate under. Before I ever ordered my first fruit tree or knew any of the great people here that I could ask for advice, I was acutely aware of TY TY’s awful reputation. They also appear on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce watch list, the Better Business Bureau warning list, and the Consumer Protection agency had a long entry about them. Dave’s Garden has mostly awful reviews and a few good ones that look very suspicious to me (meaning likely done by TY TY people) WOW…doesn’t get much worse than that. Yet they continue to have those strange advertisements and web sites so someone is still falling for their scam! Sad.

Their website not being up to date is stating it too nicely. They are so damned disorganized it isn’t even funny. They also don’t answer emails…AT ALL.
They are however seemingly nice folks and I DID receive decent stock from them. I doubt very much they would ever do the right thing though if something went wrong.
The trees I have purchased from them however (save for one pathetic specimen) have all done well above average and produced nicely.
Matt nailed it though…you’ll never have any idea what they have by browsing their site…it’s beyond terrible. Calling them on the telephone and inquiring about something turns into the biggest fiasco you can imagine.

The apple trees from Boyer’s several years ago were very good. Appleseed is right about the email. Their email system has been broken for many months. When you send email to them you get a NDR. I called and offered to help them understand the text of the Non Delivery Receipt, but no call back. They never confirmed my phone order, so I placed it with some one else

Grandpa’s is another good place not mentioned. Nice trees from there for sure. They replaced one for me no problem and the replacement tree was awesome. As was the first tree too, it just died for some reason? It took, and started to grow then just wilted. I don’t have many trees, and most are from there or Bay Laurel.
At Grandpa’s though right now they have been trying a new format and most products are yet to be listed at this time. It’s a nursery in my neck of the woods in Michigan.
For seeds and berries many good ones exist too, Territorial, Baker Creek, and about a thousand more.Tomatofest, Victory, Indiana berry, Nourse, Seed Savers exchange, Wild Boar etc,

Hi! I have ordered trees from Raintree for ten years and their trees are great. I had one apricot tree from Raintree die and they replaced it with a tree that was larger and it was shipped immediately. Arboreum is my all time favorite. They are small, knowledgeable, and send trees with excellent root systems. Many of their trees are expensive, but there are few places that will sell you such a well grown tree. I have also ordered from Cummins and they sent me two of the largest ‘mail order’ trees to date. They were both Caville Blanc d’Hiver and were huge! They are doing very well. I also ordered from a nursery that closed their doors as soon as my ordered was placed. The name was Shepherds. They no longer exist so they don’t count. Sent me the wrong tree on the wrong rootstock, no wonder they are out of business.

I have been buying from Norse Farms for about 20 years years now and for berries, you cannot beat them. They are excellent. I buy my citrus from Four Winds. They have always sent me the healthiest trees and they are all doing well.

My orchard is small only about 37 trees now. I remember starting to plant ten years ago or so and I thought 8 trees were a lot! Since most of the nurseries are on the west coast all of the shipping charges are quite high. I have no choice but to pay it and for what I receive it is worth it.

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Most of my plants are from a local garden center (where I happen to work, haha). I have mail ordered 1 time each from:

Stark: no problems, lost plum tree to borers in 2nd seaon though.
OGW: good plants (dwarf shipova and baby shipova). As I recall there was no communication on shipping, just showed up one day around when it was expected to ship. Now if they fruit before 10 years is another story.
Edible Landscaping: good persimmon tree. Excellent communication when they were going to let tree grow a little more and ship later than expected.
England’s: order coming this week, but so far Cliff has been great and prompt at returning emails.

I’ve had good experiences with FEDCO for the most part. Sometimes their trees are a bit small, but that isn’t the worst thing in the world. They are also a bit pricey but have some discounts for early ordering and quantities (do a group order if you can to get these discounts). They have a tremendous variety of fruit trees…especially apples. John Bunker is an apple expert.

I would suggest a visit to their tree sale in Clinton, Maine if you are able to make the drive someday. It is usually around the first weekend in May. Make sure you go the first weekend when they are only open to people that have pre-ordered and the best selections are available. Bring a truck or trailer to bring home your loot! A true “bucket list” event for fruit tree groupies.

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I just joined the site but as a homeowner have been dealing with online nurseries buying fruit trees and berries for over 25 years.
I could name names but there’s one thing that irritates me more than anything about the nurseries and that’s buying a fruit tree or berry plant and find out years later when they start to produce that they sold me something I didn’t ask for.
I usually have bought from the more famous names but have found they’ve all done it.
I just don’t have the heart to tear them out.
Another complaint is about withholding information.
Regarding pears, for example, I bought 2 pears from a certain nursery and they didn’t indicate they both were very susceptible to fireblight.
I bought a Stella sweet cherry from a different nursery but they sent me an alternate type that requires a pollinator.
They told me they sent a substitute (which was a peculiar thing to do without asking) but didn’t bother mentioning the pollination problem.
My venting is over.

This seems to be a theme today for me. I recommend the Arboreum Company here in California but with a few caveats. I would always email them about rootstocks since what is on the website doesn’t seem to match what they actually have. In my case, I thought I was getting plums on Citation (since that’s what the website says) but it turns out they NEVER put Asian plums on Citation, only on Myro 29C. So…uh…why does the website still say they are ALL on Citation?

They gave me very good reasons why they don’t put plums on Citation, and they are very good reasons. But the information is incorrect. Also, when I was emailing them, they said that no one ordered any Mariposa plums…but the website said they didn’t have any in stock.

All of that being said, they are very helpful, very knowledgeable and their trees are fantastic. Probably best to just email them to confirm. I am happy with what I’ve gotten from them, even my tiny 10" Passe Crassane pear tree that almost got tossed with the bag of sawdust is growing vigorously.

I’ll also say that they run the company basically as a charity, which is probably why the website isn’t so great. They’re more interested in fruit trees than websites, which is actually a pretty good recommendation.

Bubba- Welcome to the site. You should know that there are a very large number of mislabeled plant stories all over this site. Many people seem to believe that mislabeled plants are more common at big box stores like wal_mart, Lowes, Home Depot, etc. But I’ve had about equal number of errors from online sellers as from big box stores, and stories like yours prove it happens with all tree sellers. And just like you, after 3-4 years of babying, pruning, and caring for a tree, its just hard to cut it down simply because its not what I thought it was!


In addition to the big names there seem to be some well kept secrets out there with very good pricing, while not specifically tree related I would like to mention 2 or 3,

1, Simmons Plant Farm (closed for season now, so you unfortunately can’t even view varieties) they have very good prices on bare root berries (blackberries, blueberries, etc.), They are in northern Arkansas and most of the stuff they sell is appropriate for their general climate. Quality is a bit variable, mostly good, they do tend to do buy 5 get 1 free at least on things that are priced by the 5, 10, etc. point and price is about half of other online sources.

2, leggcreekfarm, they are in east Texas and sell regionally appropriate fruit trees, I have not bought from them yet, but have heard good things

3, Finch Blueberry Nursery, great package deal on blueberries bushes variety pack of 12 plants for $80-$100 shipped