How to Buy Tree Seedlings


Select healthy seedlings to ensure a greater chance of survival for your trees. Your planting site needs adequate moisture and good soil. The goal is to have healthy, vigorous growing trees. Plan your tree seedlings selections well in advance of planting. By ordering early, you receive the best seedlings as well as reserve the amount of seedlings that you need. Select seedlings that meet your needs and the conditions of your growing zone. Trees have long life spans, so growing them is a long-term commitment of space and resources.

Step 1

Visit the nursery of your choice. Check to see that the nursery beds are neatly laid out and weed free. All the tree seedlings should be tagged or labeled. The seedlings should appear healthy and well cared for. Look into the reputation of the nursery, and talk to people who have purchased seedlings from the nursery before.

Step 2

Order your tree seedlings before you need to plant them. Place large orders up to 12 months ahead of time. Many nurseries require a deposit on large orders. Make sure the seedlings are kept in cold storage until they are ready to ship.

Step 3

Check the roots of the tree seedlings. The roots need to be moist but not muddy. Traces of white mold on the roots are okay. Distortion of the root system is a sign of improper transplanting. A small tree seedling with a good root system will transplant better than a large tree seedling with bad roots.

Step 4

Examine the stems for any scrapes or mechanical damage. The layer beneath the bark should be creamy white and not discolored.

Step 5

Look for tight buds and well-developed foliage. Branches should not be broken or damaged. The seedling should smell fresh and cool, not musty.

Tips and Warnings

  • Protect your seedlings from injury, drying out, freezing, overheating and mouse or vole damage. Soak the roots in water for 24 hours before planting if the roots have dried out.


  • Selecting and Buying Quality Seedlings
  • Growing Apple Trees in the Home Garden: Tree Purchase

Who Can Help

  • Seedling Selection and Planting Tips for Fine Hardwoods
Keywords: tree seedlings, buy tree seedlings, purchasing seedlings

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.