Head’s Up – It Might Be Time to Pick Up Cheap Trees from Box Stores — 30 Comments

  1. That is a very good point. I think I might run down tomorrow and check things out. I’ve been looking at fruit trees a lot this year. Very interested in apple trees. They grow great up here in NE Indiana.

  2. This is a great tip! In fact, I’ve been doing some pricing on plants that I need for my homestead around town and will probably end up at my local big box store for a few of the plants whose prices can’t be beat elsewhere.

    But I do have a reservation after having just read this article:

    That 54% of plants from these stores are pesticide-laden to the point of attracting pollinators, then having them drop dead soon afterward, is quite disturbing.

    Do we say ‘the heck with it’, the problem is too big to worry about?

    It has certainly made me want to continue to improve and expand on my personal seed starting operation and grow more of my own things.

    • If you buy a tree this time of year, it isn’t going to flower this year. Problem = zero.

  3. Last year I picked up a couple dwarf fruit trees from a grocery store’s nursery at full price, but they gave a $1 per gallon discount on up to 20 gallons of gas for each tree you bought. It was nice to get trees I was going to buy anyways plus a dirt cheap tank of gas. If it’s not out of your way, it pays to do the vulture act at nurseries towards the end of the season. I’ve gotten free perennials before too.

  4. Picked up a couple of low chill apples Monday from Lowe’s for half price, Wal mart had their trees half price too……….

  5. Great advice! I’ve done this in the past as well and can further verify it’s a great way to find some super-good deals. Not only on fruit trees but perennial berry bushes as well.

  6. My better half works at a Lowes in the garden center and I always get to hear about the good deals.

    Last week they received a new order of blueberries, grapes, strawberries, etc. Well they still had a ton of the stuff so it goes on a rack for half price. $10 blue berry plants, most in great shape for $5 is a great deal. Add in the military discount and you get the plant for $4.50 before taxes.

  7. This should be happening a lot in the next couple of weeks everyone.

    I suspect after these next two big weeks and then the big Memorial Weekend will bring over stock. So keep you eyes open. Then tend to get trucks in the middle of the week till Fridays but rarely if ever on a weekend.

    Thanks for the heads up Jack!

  8. I just read that there is a shortage of cider apples. I understand are quite tart and few varieties available. May be something to think about for future considerations. Cider makers are looking for sources.

  9. Costco also has fruit trees, my Granny Smith from them survived this past New England winter!

  10. Great advice! Don’t forget to check Walmart’s as well. We scored some awesome late season deals on fruit trees last year!

  11. I am kind of jealous you are at the clearance stage. Here in Michigan we are now just getting the inventory into the stores. I scored huge 2 seasons ago at a local nursery. I found an entire rack of clearance trees for only $5 each! This is how I started my little orchard and blueberry patch. That year I bought 6 trees and 6 blueberry plants for only $60. Last year my trees started to bear fruit and I am happy to say, they tasted great. Oh yeah! I stalk the nursery at the end of the season. This past winter I also found a composter for only $6. It was something like 90% off. The box was all tore up and nasty but the composter was perfect.

    • Yep a lot of stores get in new inventory at the beginning of fall, seldom does it sell well as it does in the spring. They often start out lower than spring and mark down fast. If it is a cold hardy tree, stick in the ground, mulch it and rock on. If it is marginal and might not make the winter not fully established. Just leave it in the pot, keep it watered and protected. Once it goes dormant, put it in a dark garage out of the freezing cold, keep it damp, when warm days return, let it bud out, prune it. Leave it in the pot until you know you are past hard frost, then plant.

      To me fall is a GREAT time to plant, better than spring if you can get the trees that is.

      Spring equals, try to establish, sort of do it, get hit with blinding heat and little to no rain, try to keep plants alive till fall, plants that make it perk up at end of season, do well in spring.

      Fall equals, plant at the end of the brutal heat when rain has returned, plants do well, roots begin to grow, plant goes dormant, in spring roots are going gangbusters before bud break. Happy trees!

      I will tell you it has me thinking that some times the more expensive stuff is best potted up in spring, kept in a nice mostly shaded loved on environment and planted in mid September in the ground. We did everything right and I still have had some pretty tough losses this year. Especially in zone 4.

  12. Good score Jack. Sometimes I do that with the vegetable packs at our local Canadian Tire store, a flat of six green peppers for a quarter, it’s a shame to let these go to waste an die, same for the trees. So much energy has gone into growing them, transporting them and just to throw them out?

    I also get great deals on soil, compost etc end of July up here, $4 bags going for 50 cents. I load my Rav4 up and happily motor home with my swag…

  13. Lord help me if I see a flat of Jalapenos wilting, it would look like Little Shoppe of Horrors in my greenhouse, trying to save these plants, or the horticultural version of the SPCA saving these things. I’ve picked up so many “Charlie Brown” vegetable plants on sale; I just have to buy them up and plant them.

    • If you find that.

      1. Water heavy on day one, get them into full shade for a day minimum.
      2. On day two or three feed em.
      3. On day 4-5 pot them up, keep em in shade and feed them if they don’t look dark green.
      4. Continue from there until you have rehabbed them
      5. Harden off with a bit more sun
      6. Plant, feed and provide some temp shade for them, water in, give a few days and off to the races

      It works, I have done it, just make sure they are sick, not already dead!

  14. A couple of weeks ago we were at Lowe’s and I noticed this one sad little tree sitting with all of the pretty trees. It was marked down to $10 and it turned out it was a Methley Plum. Hopefully it’s not too far gone. We also asked about the 1 year guarantee on the marked down plants. They said it still applied and if it doesn’t do anything we can bring it back.

  15. For those us up north do this same thing around sept/oct I picked up 12 fruit trees at half off a couple of years ago that were dormant before the ground froze, I went home put them in the ground mulched them and hoped for the best. In the spring they all were growing like crazy. There seems to be an aversion to planting trees in the fall up north but if you can get deals why not try it?

  16. Also if you buy (At least from Lowes, home depot too probably) you get a 1 year guarrantee on a tree, regardless of shape or discount.

    We bought a persimmons in the middle of of July last year, and it died. Returned it a few weeks ago for full refund.

  17. Last year I picked up 8 blueberry bushes in 1 gallon pots on clearance for $3.49 each at Lowes. They wintered over just fine and starting to bud right now. I have found local nurseries will often make down annual flowers and veggies too and they tend to be in better shape than the big box stores plants.
    Now that I have a big yard I am hoping to pick up a lot of discounted plants this year.

    I am currently collecting thinned out perennial plants form friends who need to make room. 2 dozen raspberry bushes, dozens of Irises, day lillies and some other stuff I still need to identify all for free. Between 3 friends I have already gotten a couple hundred dollars of free plants.

  18. Turns out there was a Lowes wide problem with their nursery supplier and the trees not coming out of dormancy this year.

    • Not sure I buy that one. Suppliers for Lowes and Home Depot are highly regional. If you look at the tags you will see the source of the trees, you see different sources at stores only a few dozen miles apart.

      • Well you noticed the issue and the issue was here in Missouri as well. My better half is the nursery sales specialist and that is the word she got.

        I wonder if a bad winter and a lot of pots had something to do with it. But they could have just given her a line.

        • I think if you are sourcing from northern growers there is an issue. Several of my suppliers in the north shipped very late. Oikos stated the lost a poly tunnel in an ice collapse. I don’t doubt it happens in some areas but you can’t blame it nation wide. The tags on the stuff I just got say it came from a nursery in Lindale one only a few miles from Bob Wells where I bought a ton this year. The weather effected him not, save for knocking off some early peach blossoms with one late frost.

          My only point is stores like Depot, Lowes and Walmart, do not have “a supplier” they by their very size have over a hundred or more. Many times if you look at all the tags you can find the source of the plant. Sadly some stores seem to be trying to get rid of that. Plants now being labeled “Apple Red – Lowes” and such. They need to stop that crap, there is no Lowes Apple and if I don’t know the actual variety of something I won’t buy it. There is no such thing as a Lowes Red Apple.

    • In my hunting this Saturday, I got all at half normal prices.

      3 Bruce Plums
      2 Blue Berries
      2 Grapes – 95% were dead as a door nail but two were in good shape a Concord and a Thompsons

      Not a huge score but with the first 4 not bad either. I was looking for a very healthy peach for one of mine that died, none to be found though. I was also looking for plums for an All Red that looked dead in the food forest. I have plenty now but no All Reds, the good news? Today that dead tree pulled a resurrection and came back, it is covered in green buds! Ah the power of watering the shit out of something and hoping.

  19. Thursday I scouted out my local Lowe’s and Home Depot stores. Lowes had reduced their fruit trees to half price, $19.98 to $9.99. Home Depot had not reduced theirs yet. Yesterday I went back with my truck and bought a Bartlett pear, a “Moonglow” Asian pear, and a semi-dwarf Burbank Japanese plum for $9.99 each. I needed a different plum for pollination, so I stopped by Home Depot which had just reduced their trees to half price. I bought a dwarf yellow plum for $12.49.

    Please remind us again next year to look for these bargains.

  20. My local Lowes just put some on for half price. May get a methley plum, 4 in 1 cocktail (plum, peach, nectarine, apricot), texstar peach. Wish they had did this a month ago. The trees still look decent though.