Teddy12b
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Location: North East Indiana

Is there much difference on where you buy fruit trees?

Lowes has their trees for sale right now for half off. I'm thinking about buying some more, but I'm wondering if I wouldn't be better off buying at a local nursery. I'd like to get a few more trees in the ground before winter really hits.

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ElizabethB
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Location: Lafayette, LA

Re: Is there much difference on where you buy fruit trees?

Hi Teddy. The answer to your question is a big YES.

I worked for Lowe's for 7 years. I started as a Live Nursery Specialist. After 1 year I transferred to another department. One of the major reasons for requesting a transfer was that the buyers knew nothing about horticulture and really did not care about the region suitability of fruit trees. The store I worked at did have an excellent grower for citrus trees. The store and the grower were in south Louisiana. The varieties were region specific. The rest of the fruit trees were from a grower in Oklahoma. The varieties WERE NOT suited for south Louisiana.

Purdue is your Land Grant University. This is an extensive publication on growing fruit.

https://www2.ag.purdue.edu/hla/Hort/Doc ... g_B940.pdf

Keep in mind that fruit trees are VERY region specific. Select varieties suitable for your region. Some fruit trees are self pollinating others require at least 2 plants/trees. Pay attention to mature size. Make sure you allow enough room for mature trees. Some fruits have specific pH requirements (Blueberries). Have a soil test done. When you plant make sure to remember that you plant a .50 plant in a $5.00 hole. Plant no deeper than the original root ball but at LEAST 3 x's wider. Do not amend the soil. Do not fertilize until spring of the following year. You want to get a good root system established before pushing foliage growth. Also any new foliage will be damaged by your winter.

Because of your winters you will need to protect your newly planted tree/s. If you do find suitable varieties on sale you may want to wait until spring to plant them. Young trees are very susceptible to winter damage.

Good luck
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Is there much difference on where you buy fruit trees?

Ditto what Her Majesty said. You need to remember that at a department store many people are assigned to work and area and may or may not have any real experience working with plants. Even the ones that know better are not often able to make a lot of decisions about what is bought or even where they are kept. Those decisions are made by the managers who may know or care even less.

If you do buy a plant from a department store, do try to get it before it has been there too long. At the store it may not get the water, pest control, light or fertilizer it really needs.

Nurseries that grow their own stock generally have plants that have adapted to the site and the growers can answer your questions better about how to take care of the trees. Trees are not cheap, so it is best to get a good one.

Even if you get a tree from a reputable local or mail order nursery, you should take the time to acclimate the plant. Your local conditions may be colder, warmer and the soil conditions may be different from where the plant was grown. Do your research and plant the right cultivar for your conditions.

Lowe's and Home depot bring in cultivars from the mainland here and Japanese maples and most of the peach, pear, and apple trees and most of the riding mowers are not appropriate here. Japanese maples are practically annuals here, they don't like the summer heat unless you live in a high elevation and pick a morning sun spot. Only fruit trees with low chill requirements will fruit here and those varieties tend not to be on the tart side. The stores here would buy 20 riding mowers and take them in and out of the store every day. They will probably sell one or two a year. Most people don't have a yard big enough to need one. It took them a few years but they finally learned and only kept one for display and then a few more years went by and they figured out they could just have people order them if they wanted one.

Make sure you have the right location and make a proper hole to plant the tree. After care is important to limit the shock from transport and the change in environment. You may have to water the tree more until it settles in and give it some wind protection. I don't stake trees unless they are leaning badly or it has been very windy. Trees that are not staked develop stronger roots in the long run and better tolerance to wind later on down the road.

I do have brittle trees like the bilimbi and roselles. Those I just prune to keep the size down so they don't snap in the wind.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Tricone
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Location: southwest ON (zone 5/6)

Re: Is there much difference on where you buy fruit trees?

I can't really back it up, but I would say yes - I would not want to get hold of a fruit tree from somewhere like a walmart - the people there are not too likely to know a lot about the variety in question, and stores are not likely to be stocked with varieties suited to the local climate etc. I will be planting my own small orchard in my back garden next year, and the stock will certainly be coming from a specialist source as opposed to local garden centres

I would also be wary of the more commercial-oriented cultivars and would prefer something with fewer breeder's rights restrictions, although that's my own prejudices and not really anything objective

imafan26
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Re: Is there much difference on where you buy fruit trees?

Commercial cultivars are not that bad. They will probably be the most vigorous and productive trees. You need to be more careful with a specialty cultivar to make sure it is one that will do well in your area.

I don't know about everyone else, but every fruit tree, even of the same variety will taste a little different just because of the different environmental conditions and genetic diversity. Avocados, mangoes, and citrus trees are all like that. That is why the better trees are grafted from a tree of known fruit quality.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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ElizabethB
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Location: Lafayette, LA

Re: Is there much difference on where you buy fruit trees?

There is nothing wrong with commercial cultivars as long as they are region specific. The majority of fruit trees readily available are commercial cultivars.

I must reiterate - the fruit trees available at Lowe's, Home Depot, WalMart, K Mart - any and all national big box stores - are NOT region specific. The nursery stock is ordered by buyers sitting in the home office. They have NO horticulture knowledge. Their sole purpose is to make the best deal they can get with growers. They are idiots.

I do shop Lowe's because I know the growers. As I stated in my previous post Citrus trees are a great deal because the grower is in Belle Chase Louisiana. He has a 5 star reputation. His citrus trees are the best. I would not purchase any other fruit trees from Lowe's.

When I worked as a Nursery Specialist for Lowe's I was appalled at the lack of knowledge of the buyers. I sent list of fruit tree varieties suitable for Louisiana gathered from the LSU Ag Center. I BEGGED the buyer to find a grower that could provide region specific cultivars. That idiot laughed at me. His told me that he could care less if the trees ever produced fruit. As long as the tree lived for 1 year it was good on his book. That is when I requested a transfer to another department. I was hired because I had the knowledge and experience to run a nursery. Unfortunately I was not allowed to use that knowledge and experience.

DO NOT BUY FRUIT TREES FROM BIG BOX STORES!!@@

I posted a link for you from Purdue University. It is extensive and provides you with the information you need to make intelligent choices.

:eek: Sorry for the rant. I get PO'ed when it comes to big box fruit trees. I am too passionate about regional suitability.

Good luck
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

JONA
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Location: Sussex. England

Re: Is there much difference on where you buy fruit trees?

I don't know about your side of the pond....but over here I would recommend to garden growers that they grow varieties that the stores do not stock. Traditional vars and heritage ones.
Why grow what's easily available at the store instead of fruit that may not be so ' pretty or consistent ' but often packs much more flavour.
John

Teddy12b
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Joined: Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:12 pm
Location: North East Indiana

Re: Is there much difference on where you buy fruit trees?

When I first started planting fruit trees, I went to some local nurseries and they all brought their trees in from somewhere else. The lowes people I talked to all said that they won't sell trees in an area that won't survive in that area. Basically someone in purchasing somewhere makes sure that they aren't trying to sell orange trees in Indiana zone 5 or something else out of the realistic chance of survival.

I'm going to try some local places in the spring, but when Lowes had their trees on sale for 50% off I figured it was worth trying and I'd take whatever casualties came with it.

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jal_ut
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Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: Is there much difference on where you buy fruit trees?

Good question.
Yes, I suppose it does matter.

When I see an 8 to 9 foot tree growing in a two gallon bucket, I cringe. You know in the real world when trees grow in the ground the roots are as long as the stem is tall. The roots of that tree in the bucket had to be severely pruned to get it in the bucket. If the top is not pruned the same proportion, the tree will likely die......... if it does happen to survive, it will take two years for it go grow.

I have had much better luck buying dormant bare root trees. These have a much better balance of root to top and have done very well for me. I have bought them from a number of mail order nurseries, and they all seem to be good. I have had no problems.

I will confess, I don't like fall planting. The hard winters we get here freeze the ground and may heave a newly planted tree out of the ground and expose the roots. I prefer to plant in the early spring.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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