“Where can I buy the best fruit trees or berry bushes?” is a question often asked by novice fruit gardeners. Finding the best suited plants for your garden conditions is an extremely important foundation for a successful fruit garden but it isn’t really as hard as most people think.
Where could gardeners begin their search? The possibilities include home and garden mass merchandisers, local nurseries, and mail order catalogs. Each offers slightly different advantages. Start with the one that meets your main priorities.
If low price is your primary objective, you’ll probably find the most competitive pricing at large mass merchandisers and home centers. Unfortunately, because plants are acquired through the franchise channels, the selection of varieties will usually be very limited and may not even be well suited to your growing region. Use this option if all you really want is a very basic, inexpensive introduction to fruit gardening.
A local nursery or specialized garden center may serve you better. Depending on the manager’s fruit growing knowledge, some local nurseries offer a generous assortment of fruit trees and bushes. Others may be as limited as the mass merchandiser. At a local nursery where the staff is well trained and interested in horticulture, the plants you find will likely be of high quality and more apt to grow well. One great advantage the local nurseryman can offer is familiarity with the local growing conditions. This can be very helpful to the novice gardener trying to select suitable fruit trees and bushes for long-term success.
Nursery catalogs are an excellent option for quality and selection. Catalog sources can be subdivided into
- the generalists that sell numerous kinds of fruits, berries, seeds, and flowering plants
- those that specialize exclusively in fruit trees and berry plants.
The general garden catalog typically carries a medley of different fruit plants. Most of the actual fruit varieties fall into the “tried and true,” long-time standards. Sometimes the catalogs also carry a package assortment that may include an apple tree or two, a peach, a plum, and several berry bushes. If the package is well put together, this can be a simple way for the novice to start. Be sure, though, that all of the varieties included are indeed well-suited for your growing area.
If you’ve prepared yourself by reading up on fruit growing or you are an experienced gardener looking for a variety that is a bit out of the ordinary, the specialized fruit nursery catalogs will, without question, offer the greatest selection of fruit varieties. Many will focus on just berry plants or just fruit trees. Some catalogs may go so far as to specialize in one type of fruit such as apples or grapes . Everything from the latest disease resistant strawberry variety to the antique apple you remember from grandpa’s farm can be found in the specialty catalogs. Frequently, these catalogs also include information ranging from plant spacings to ripening dates. Their staff can answer other questions you may have.
Whether you are looking for low cost, advice on locally adapted fruit varieties, or the oldest or newest in variety selections, you’ll succeed when you direct your plant hunt toward the source most suited to your needs.
©2013. Adapted from the Backyard Orchardist: A complete guide to growing fruit trees in the home garden by Stella Otto.