Home Depot trees

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Hi there,
For the first time in my life I am buying trees, specifically fruit and probably citrus.
Is Home Depot any good for this? There are a number of terrific nurseries around here but it is a matter of time not money, if there is even a difference. I am not sure. I was kind of caught by surprise here.
What do you all say?
Take care, Julie in SFBA
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I don't know about the SFBA, but the Home Depot's around the Dallas, Tx area only sell fruit trees in the spring. Their trees are fine, but you may find a limited selection of varieties. I've bought peach , pears and figs from HD and they have always been fine. But now you have me curious.....it's a matter of time and not money? What's the rush? (if you care to elaborate)

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I thought that fall was the best time to plant trees? The fruit trees are hitting Orchard Supply now, too.
Karen
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Karen wrote:

Nursery stock is typically planted spring and fall, the coolest/wettest times of the year. But there no reason one can't plant all summer if they are willing to water regularly. I find the best bargains on trees during summer and late fall when nurseries are looking to empty their stock.
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wrote:

Planting before the best months of rain is a good idea to give the roots a good start. Sure you can hand water and plant anytime, but rain seems to do the better job. The worst time is to plant shortly before a draught. This is a good time (now thru early winter) to fertilize/mulch deciduous trees.
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Whoops, sorry, hit the "send" key too soon.
I was going to say that we here in the Bay Area have a different sense of planting seasons than people in many other parts of the country. :-) I, too, am getting ready to do some planting--just as my friends in Michigan are putting away their garden tools for the next few months.
Patty
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Thanks, everyone, for all your helpful advice. I took it all to heart as we searched for trees to plant. Look for new post on what we ended up with. Thanks again, Julie in SFBA
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Find a local nursery who can advise you on what varieties grow best in your particular microclimate.
But...most importantly, if you are planting stone fruit - WAIT. Bare root season is right around the corner and you can get trees much cheaper then. Starting in December, the nursery will be filled with bare root fruit trees. If the local nursery that you find has helpful employees, they will order the varieties you want as bare root stock.
The Sunset garden book has listings of different cultivars if you don't already have a favorite. You *do* have a Sunset garden book, don't you?
Good luck, Susan B.
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wrote:

Cheaper... cheaper than what???
For the typical homeowner planting like a half dozen fruit trees at the most, who GAF about saving like *maybe* two bucks on a $17 tree... I mean it's not like peaches and plums is some kinda rare and pricey trees.
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wrote:

Truthfully, I don't trust either. Half my garden was destroyed this year from the "Bonnie Blight" incident, and nearly all carried that brand. Beware of mislabeled plants. I might prefer the store with the best reputation/guarantee, maybe the cleanest-looking greenhouse. Pick your poison.
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On 10/8/2009 1:11 PM, julie wrote:

I might buy tools, fertilizers, and other supplies at a hardware store or lumber yard; but I alway buy my plants from a nursery. Hardware stores and lumber yards generally fail to give live plants proper care while waiting to sell them. In fact, few such stores even employ people who know how to care for live plants.
If "SFBA" means San Francisco Bay area, forget the citrus. It will grow and thrive, but you are unlikely to get enough heat to ripen the fruit properly.
If you are buying deciduous fruit trees, wait until they are available bare root (about January). Bare root trees generally adapt to your native soil better than canned trees. (The same is true with roses, but few (if any) nurseries sell bare root roses any more.)
Also, be sure that the varieties that you buy is indeed suitable for your climate. Commercial varieties of apple, pear, and the stone fruits (e.g., peaches) generally need more winter chill than is found in much of the Bay area. However, non-commercial varieties of many fruits -- often better tasting -- are available for mild-winter areas.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
  Click to see the full signature.
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[snip]

[snip]
Really? My six citrus (Mandarin orange, Valencia orange, Tangelo, both Meyer lemons, and the Star Ruby grapefruit), and every neighbor I see with citrus trees in their front yards, disprove this every season.
I'll also include my nectarine, pear, apple, and persimmon but I understand that those aren't citrus.
All the saplings came from Home Despost but I've forgotten when I purchased them; fall I think when they pack 'em in like sardines in their nursery areas. They've been amazingly hardy, were all on sale when I purchased them, and came from a variety of sources.
The Ranger SFBA Zone 9
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wrote:

The big box stores get their nursery stock from the same local wholesalers that supply the independant nurseries... look for how well the individual store cares for their stock (watering, etc.), otherwise there is no difference. However the big box stores typically give better hasslefree guarantees, and they typically charge significantly less. When I want something unique or of a larger than usual size I know of some local wholesale/retail growers. Not knowing your location I can't offer a recommendation and if you're going to grow citrus I know you are not anywhere near me. If this is your first attempt with fruit trees I'd keep to the most very basic plants such as one finds at the big box stores... fruit trees are rather inexpensive but you don't want to lose the time spent growing more fussy stock until you gain experience in caring for fruit trees. Being new you'd only become overwhelmed shopping the large growing nurseries.
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julie wrote:

I can relate one experience of mine. Two years ago, I purchased what was labeled as a Belle of Georgia Peach. It soon developed fruit, but the flesh was yellow, instead of white. My guess is that it is a Elberta Peach. Out of curiosity, I tried to trace this tree from Home Depot. It seems like this tree went through about two or three levels before Home Depot sold it. The exact identity of the tree could not be verified. It is a healthy tree, just not what I was expecting. True, you can get some bargains at Home Depot and other big box stores, but be aware of the risks involved.
That was probably the last tree I will purchase from a big box. When I was first getting into growing fruit, I purchased five trees from Frank's Nursery, who went out of business in my area. A few of them survived, but some grew larger than I wanted.
As I got more into fruit trees, I discovered the best and most reliable trees were orderable on the internet as young whips. These trees grow rapidly and catch up in a year or two to the ones you see sold in local nurseries and big box stores. There are several good suppliers, like Raintree Nursery and Tree's of Antiquity out there. The advantage of ordering from them is they carry many uncommon varieties not found locally. They grow their own trees, with no middle men involved. You can be almost certain that the better ones of these nurseries are accurate on the rootstock (determines final size of the tree). If you were expecting a tree to grow to 10 or so feet, you won't be surprised when it grows many feet higher. I grow mostly semi-dwarfs on rootstock like Bud 9 that produces apple trees about 12 feet high. If I had to do it over again, I would have bought the very small trees on M27 that grow about 6 feet tall. You don't get as much fruit on a dwarf, but maintenance is much easier, and the trees yield fruit sooner than a full size tree. There are some nurseries that I avoid simply because they do not specify their rootstock, just calling it a dwarf of semi-dwarf. Starks and Millers are two of these that come to mind. They plant their own stock, but on an assembly line basis, so they cannot track each tree.
If you want to grow some unusual and very tasty fruit that you can't find in your supermarket, look at these heritage fruits. Visit a fruit fair in your area where you can taste these unusual fruits and be sure to pick one that is compatible with your climate zone.
Sherwin
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sherwin dubren wrote:

You are correct on all points except for the elements of time and space. Trees are not like buying a TV that you bring home and it instantly operates to its full capacity, trees require years to mature. I've purchased mail order "whips" and they definitely don't begin producing within two years, they require more like 5-6 years for first fruit... and still there is no gaurantee they'll be true to form, they can easily get switched in the shipping departments... and the trees from independant nurseries are just as likely to be mislabled as from the big boxes, since they all come from the same local grower-wholesalers and probably get shipped here, there, and everywhere before sold to the public. And with bare root trees my experience is that about 1/4 don't make it... sure they will be replaced but one loses an entire year before they'll reship... and shipping costs for barestock whips is typically more than the plant is worth. Ppotted/balled and burlapped saplings have a far higher success rate (I havent lost one yet).
And then there is the element of space for planting. If one has plenty of land to put into orchard and intends to make a major operation of growing fruit then the best route is to buy mature rooted trees from an area grower wholesaler/retailer... they will cost about double and triple than from an independant and big box... but at least you will have a mature plant that is true to form and is probably already fruiting. But for someone with a small property who is intending to have 2-6 trees then I recommend they get started with a couple of potted trees from a big box, to learn how to care for fruit trees and have time to decide what they really want to plant in limited space. If one has the space and wants they can purchase an assortment of bare root whips and plant in pots and then heel in, leave them for a couple of years until they know which survive (arrange for replacement) and decide where to plant. From reading the OP it doesn't sound like someone who will be planting an orchard, and says money is no object... then I would recommend forgoing the big box, the independants, and the mail order bare root, and go directly to a local grower and buy more mature specimens.. I suggest purchasing nursery stock as locally as possible to ensure similar growing conditions... mail order can be from thousands of miles away.
A grower is a much different operation from a plant nursery. Growers do their own grafting, have many acres planted with stock in various stages. Some will have a retail section... they are typically listed in the phone book.
In my location I shop these two: http://www.storysnursery.com / http://www.schoharienurseries.com/index.htm
Both are about an hours drive away in different directions so when I go I plan to spend a relaxing day strolling the acreage. I'm on their email list and so several times a year I'm notified of sales. Both maintain an amazing array of plants, many of which one never finds at nurseries... plants purchased by lanscapers for large estate jobs, but often available retail too... sometimes advance notice is needed and they will notifiy when the plant chosen is dug from the field and ready for pick up... I bought my blueberry bushes that way and got a fantastic deal compared to anywhere else. I almost bought my blueberries on line, what a mistake that would have been as they charge the credit card long before they ship, and their shipping charges are outrageous... I recommend no one buy blueberry bushes sight unseen, you can end up with 1-2 year old twigs, many of which probably won't survive, and you'll pay as much if not more than I did, $15 for 8 year old shrubs balled and burlapped filling 5 gallon pots, already producing.
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brooklyn1 wrote:

That may be true for a tree on standard rootstock, but not so for dwarfs. I have had vigorous dwarf whips produce fruit the next year after planting. Five to six years is way too long for a dwarf tree to fruit, unless the scion and the rootstock is not vigorous. Of the some 10 odd trees I received as whips on dwarf rootstcck, none of them took longer than two or three years to give fruit. Admittedly, this first fruiting is very limited to a handful, and I would recommend they be removed before they grow large so that the tree puts it's energy into the roots, where it is most needed on these young dwarf trees.
... and still there is no gaurantee they'll be true to

Exactly the point of my previous message. If you want to be reasonably assured of getting a true to species that you ordered, you have to find a nursery you can trust. I have not found any of my local nurseries in the Chicago area to fill this bill. They just buy a load of trees from wherever, and they generally don't know the first thing about raising fruit trees, bushes and flowers, yes. That's why I only buy from nurseries out of state that firstly specify their rootstock type ( a good sign) and those recommended by my fruit growing friends.
they can easily get switched in the shipping departments... and

Here I disagree with you again. A larger tree is much less likely to succeed in transplanting. More likely than the nursery cut off too many roots to squeeze it into a pot or burlap ball. They also have a harder time adapting to the surrounding soil. These larger trees are for impatient people who want instantaneous results. In fact, these whips do not take long to catch up with their larger planted counterparts.

The majority of people on gardening forums like this are hobbiests, so large trees just become a big maintenance headache. If they are working in a backyard, this limits the number of varieties they can plant.
then the best route is to buy mature rooted

I also recommend dwarf trees. My neighbor planted almost all standard trees about 5 years ago and many have not fruited and they are growing too big. I advised him then to plant dwarfs, and now he tells me he regrets not listening to me.
If one has the space and wants they can purchase an

If you are happy with Red Delicious, etc., those are the common varieties they carry. These kinds of 'supermarket' apples are not the best tasting, and why bother when you can buy them in the store. There are literally hundreds of good tasting apples, like Thomas Jefferson's favorite, Esopus Spitzenburg, for which scion wood or ready made whips are available.

These guys have a good selection of fruit trees, but absolutely no mention of rootstocks provided, so I assume they are all on standard rootstock.

This nursery also has a good selection of fruit trees and they do describe how dwarf trees behave, but their catalog does not indicate which trees are available on which rootstocks, or even if they sell dwarf trees.

To sum up, one has to do their homework when buying a tree, just like you check out a new car for horsepower, gas mileage, etc. Once you plant that tree, you may have the painful task of ripping it out because it is too big, or is the wrong variety. Brooklyn1 is correct about checking the pollination requirements, as some trees require a 'companion' variety to produce fruit.
Caveat Emptor,
Sherwin
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On Sat, 10 Oct 2009 02:03:38 -0500, sherwin dubren

A lot depends on the grower, some will cheat by digging a small root ball, others will give an adequate ball. More mature trees (and plants in general) benefit from root pruning. I purchased large trees with root balls much too heavy for me to haul home let alone plant, I paid to have that done... all did very well.

No arguement there... I think I covered that in my next section.

When I say a mature tree I mean one about 5-7 years old, not some gnarly ancient. All transplants suffer shock, but in the end a young mature fruit tree will do better than a bare root "whip"... and I'd much rather have a plant that was grown locally than one from here, there, everywhere, and many states away. I've purchased those mail order bare root "whips" and some did well but others died, they were replaced but a year later... it wasn't worth all the planning, preparing a piece of ground, anticipating arrival, the disapointment of opening the large box and seeing a twig no larger than a strand of pasta but still planting it, and then the disappointment when it never leafs out. No thank you... I'll buy plants I can see growing. The balled/potted fruit saplings one finds at the big box and most nurseries are a good choice, but then being retired I didn't want to wait longer than necesary so I opted for something a bit larger... so a persons age has a lot to do with choosing nursery stock. Those mail order whips I think are no bargain, they cost more and with shipping one can buy two growing plants at Home Depot.

Dwarf fruit trees are rather small, they grow perhaps to 8" ht and 6" wd, are fine for those who have limited space but since I have space I prefer semi dwarf (they grow 12'-15' tall and as wide), they are very manageable with a small step ladder and pole pruner. I also need trees that grow taller because deer would make salad of dwarfs unless I kept them fenced forever. With semi dwarfs I keep them fenced until I can prune them to begin branching at about five feet, at that point I can remove the fence and the deer will keep them pruned fastidiously to five feet. If ever you pass a large orchard you will notice how all the tree's lower branches are the same height, deer do that with all trees/shrubs they browse.

These growers don't sell on line or from catalog. They are primarily wholesale growers (they only sell what they themselves grow) and only keep a web site for advertising their retail business to the locals, which I readily admit is not much of a web site, and it's listings are probably not up to date. If one has specific questions they will be happy to answer. I have found all the personel quite knowlegeable and helpful... they will help you choose, insist upon loading your plants and covering them so they will be protectected from wind damage on the trip home. And in fact their main location is only a very small part of the operation, they own many hundreds of acres of planting fields and greenhouses at other nearby locations that the public is not permitted to browse.
It's really only the mail order and on line sellers who maintain fancy schmancy web sites with all manner of hype... but it's rare they grow any of their own stock. Those "whips' and tiny plants are shipped from many private growers scattered about in states where land is cheap and ordinary folks do it as a cottage industry... those companys only handle the paperwork, their mail order plant business has no more to do with growing than Sears has to do with manufacturing clothes washers. Didn't you notice how all their pictures are of perfect plants that one can never achieve in reality... ain't photoshop grand.
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brooklyn1 wrote:

Well, it may make shipping and replanting easier, but is certainly not advantageous to the plant, depending on how much you cut off. There are cases where you can kill a tree that way.

Makes no difference where it was grown. As I said, soil is a bigger factor. Any arborist will tell you the smaller the tree, the greater the survival rate. Even a one year old plant will survive sooner then a two or three year old plant if it is planted properly.
I've purchased those mail

Did you ever think you were ordering plants from the wrong place? I have never had a whip die on me, but a good nursery stands behind their product and will replace it, if it dies prematurely.
The

As I stated earlier, whips can catch up to these larger trees over a few years. Certainly buying standard rootstock trees like you seem to prefer, will delay fruit production by several years.

You can't effectively prune apple trees by topping them. Other fruits, yes.
I also need

You must have a nice tall ladder to handle your style trees. Also, spraying must be lot's of fun. I can appreciate the problem with deer, but your solution is not good, especially for someone of your age.

Maybe so, but these commercial guys like this usually grow varieties that sell well in supermarkets, not the interesting ones that home orchardist's would like.

Not true.
Those "whips' and tiny plants are shipped

Your description fits the big box stores and some nurseries. That is why I stress checking out a seller before you buy. One clue is if they don't specify the rootstock type. That means that they are either planting their trees on an assembly line, or they may be buying from an intermediary.
Here is a site where you can find reliable trees and scion wood:
http://www.nafex.org/supply_source.htm
This site recommends checking these nurseries and others at the following:
http://davesgarden.com/products/gwd /
Here you will find customer reviews of various nurseries. Some are mixed, so obviously nobody has the same experience in these cases. Also, not many buyers make the connection to the rootstock type, like with Stark's Nursery. They see graft failures and other problems, but don't make the rootstock connection. Generally, one can get a rough idea of what to expect from these reviews.
Sherwin
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<<soft polite snip>>>

I've bought from Raintree Nursery and their fruit trees have grown have grown 2-3 feet this summer. The nursery is in my state so I knew they would grow well here. That, I think, makes a huge difference in how well fruit trees grow. They're semi-dwarf apple and cherry. I had blossoms on them this year but they didn't develop. Next year? Maybe one will!
Donna in WA

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