Buying Apple Trees: Choosing a Nursery

Apples August 29, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Choose a nursery carefully when ordering trees.

  • Ask if the nursery has the cultivar and strain, rootstock, tree size, and quality that you want and if it has enough in stock to meet your needs.
  • Don’t accept an undesirable cultivar-rootstock combination. You could end up with a spacing problem in your orchard if you plant a mixed block of cultivars, strains, and rootstocks. You’re better off to delay your planting for a year until you are able to get exactly what you want.

Buy the best trees that you can.

Bargain or low-priced trees are often more costly in the long run. A planting begun with poor-quality trees may never recover. An orchard can only be as good as the quality of its young trees.

Talk to growers who have ordered from a nursery you do not know.

  • Information that comes from word of mouth and other growers’ experiences can be invaluable when deciding on a nursery. Most nurseries realize that the best advertisement for their product is a satisfied customer.
  • Ask about the condition of trees on arrival and about problems in ordering or receiving the trees. Fortunately, most nurseries are honest, but accidents can occur. Be aware of a nursery’s policies on replacing incorrectly labeled trees.

Visit the nursery, if at all possible.

Nurseries usually welcome anyone interested in their operation.

Before ordering, find out about the nursery’s guarantee concerning:

  •  Survivability.
  •  Quality.
  •  Trueness to name.

Ask whether the nursery participates in a certification program, either a state program or its own.

These programs guarantee their trees to be true to name and free from all disease and insect problems.

Buying Apple Trees: Introduction

Buying Apple Trees: Ordering Your Trees

Sources for Apple and Other Fruit Trees


Robert Crassweller, Penn State University

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Apple Rootstocks

  • All about understanding and choosing the right rootstock

Apple Cultivars

  • Characteristics, descriptions, and how to choose the best to grow and eat

Establishing an Apple Orchard

  • Buying and planting trees

Managing Apple Trees and Orchards

  • Insects, diseases, wildlife and other challenges

Propagating Apple Rootstocks and Trees

  • Grafting, budding, tissue culture, and all about how rootstocks are developed

Regional Resources

  • Links to apple information specific to your area

USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.