Buying Fruit Trees

bareroot stock

Bare root or in containers? Large trees or small?

At the retail nursery or garden center there are two ways to purchase a fruit tree:

  • Bare root during winter for the best selection

  • Growing in a container in the spring for convenience

How to Choose a Retail Nursery


Large trees or small?

Smaller caliper trees such as ½" or 5/8" (diameter of the trunk two inches above the bud union) respond well to any style of pruning. To induce low branching, cut the tree at the height of your knee. Smaller trees tend to respond by making a flush of new growth in the spring, from which you select your scaffold (main) limbs.

When selecting from larger caliper trees (3/4" & up), look for trees with good branching beginning from 1 to 3 feet from the top of the root. After planting, select 3 or 4 limbs and cut the trunk just above the uppermost selected limb. Cut the selected limbs back by two-thirds and remove any others.

Examine the roots. The roots should appear healthy and have no major breakage.

Some rootstocks are very lightly rooted - for example, Mahaleb cherry rootstock and various semi-dwarfing rootstocks for stone fruits. Persimmons and many nut varieties may also have light root systems. All of these grow well when properly planted.

Caring for bareroot

If buying bareroot before you are ready to plant, be prepared to care for the trees

properly while preparing the planting site. Keep the roots moist and do not allow them to freeze. (See "Planting Your Backyard Orchard".)

In Containers

  • Look for trees that have good leaf color.

  • There should be no damage to the trunk and no signs of disease.

  • Ask how long the tree has been potted - over two seasons is too long!

  • Some oozing may be due to early spring warming, not disease. Consult your nursery professional if this is a question.

  • If a tree is in its second season in a container be sure it has the low limb structure you want. Cutting back an older tree at knee height may result in only one or two new shoots, not the three to five you need.

Finding Your Selected Varieties

If your retail nursery will not be carrying some of the varieties you have selected, you can use the Variety Finder (see Where To Buy DWN Trees) to locate sources for those trees.

Get in touch with us

Contact Dave Wilson

We sell our products to retail nurseries, garden centers, container growers who sell to landscape contractors and retail nurseries, mail order nurseries, and anyone else who qualifies. We do not accept direct sales to consumers.