From the list below choose one of our FAQs topics, then select an FAQ to read. If you have a question which is not in this section, please contact us.
General Information About Bare Root Seedlings
What about shipping?Trees are packed in triple strength paper bags that are waxed on the inside and then sewn shut, much like a bag of flour or dog food is sewn. They can be picked up at the nursery in those bags or repacked into heavy waxed or lined boxes for trucking, UPS or airfreight. Repacking on bare root trees is charged at cost of $5 per box plus freight charges, also at cost. The packing charge on potted trees is $10 because we individually wrap each tree pot in a bag so that if it’s tipped in transit the soil won’t be completely distributed throughout the box. The bags help hold soil around the roots, even if the pots get damaged by freight handling. Airfreight is surprisingly reasonable for some medium sized orders. Customers who live near large airports served by Delta can get a very good rate and good handling. We get an agricultural rate which helps. But, it’s often not practical for customers who live a large distance from an airport. Small airports served by partner airlines will also charge an additional fee. It’s important to understand that air fright can be efficient, but it’s not always affordable. Orders of 1/3 truck or more usually benefit from truck rates and orders of 2-3 boxes usually can go UPS. A box will hold anywhere from 100-1000 depending on species, 300 per box is average.
What's to know about planting day?Field planting:
Choose a mild day with more mild weather in the immediate forecast. Call us 2-3 days ahead of planting day to be sure the trees will be ready. (We dig on a rotating basis so trees don’t sit in the cooler too long, it’s always possible we could be temporarily out of stock. We can bring more in from the fields, weather permitting). Bring a covering and ropes to secure the load and protect from direct sun. When you get home park in the shade and unload if you will not be starting to plant right away.
Have five gallon buckets available with 6″-8″ of water for each person. Place a few trees in the bucket and cover the roots of the remaining trees with an old towel, then roll the bag top down. Secure with string or flip the bag upside down onto the rolled top. Place all reserve trees in the shade. Using an ordinary shovel or a planting tool place the blade in the soil & rock forward. Remove 1 tree only from the bucket and guide the roots into the slot with your hand directing all root hairs down. Plant at the same level as the tree was growing at the nursery. There will be a change of color on the stem at the original ground level. Remove the shovel and tamp in gently to replace soil around the roots and to press out air pockets. Never let any roots dry out. Exposure to sun or wind can dry roots in a few seconds.
Zeba root dip is a highly recommended additive that we consider cheap insurance. It’s cornstarch product made here in Oregon. It comes as a dry powder that is added to the water in the bucket to form a thin soupy coating on the roots. The Zeba will attract soil moisture to the root zone throughout the first summer, helping the trees get established.
Very similar care instructions apply: never let the roots dry out. Root prune again if the roots are longer than the pot is deep, but be sure there are at least 4″ for a tree up to 8″ tall and 6″ for taller trees. Get deeper pots if necessary. Plant at the same level as the tree was growing in the field, look for the color change on the stem.
We discourage “healing in” which is temporarily planting in a sawdust bed until a later date. We see far too many losses due to dry sawdust, air pockets or weather damage. It is an option if you want to take the risk and the trees can be held for 2-4 weeks this way.
***The most important things to do: never let roots dry out & replant at the same level with the roots carefully directed down.
When should we order & plant?Since there is always a finite quantity (no factory out back to crank out a few more!) you should order as soon as you know you will need trees. Six months to a year in advance is sometimes wise and not at all too soon. As for planting (in the Pacific Northwest) : the six week period from mid February to April 1 is an excellent planting time. The weather is cool & mild and we rarely have extremes of any sort during that time frame. Planting can certainly take place earlier or later, just watch the weather so that if any unusual weather is predicted you can wait until it passes. You’ll want to avoid unusual cold, heat or wind. We encourage planning for the earliest possible date (after Feb 1) so that if any unforeseen circumstances come up you will still have plenty of “best” time still available.
For other areas: simply plant as soon as the threat of harsh winter weather has passed and the summer is still well in the future. Give the trees as much mild spring establishment time as possible.
How many trees per acre?That depends on your project & spacing. The chart below will help.
- 4×5 2,730 per acre 5×6 1,450 per acre
- 5×5 1,740 per acre 10×10 435 per acre
- 6×6 1,210 per acre 20×20 100 per acre
Are transplants worth the extra money?Some say yes, some say not really. We grow both so that customers have a choice. Generally, a well prepared site, a site that will have irrigation and fertilizer available or a potted application can use smaller trees. Forestry work or difficult sites will usually have better survival if the trees have the heavier root system that transplants offer. Also, some states require a certain survival rate on replanted forests. It may be worth considering the taller transplants to insure the trees can compete with any other vegetation.
What are the age classifications?Seedlings are designated by their age and growing history. Each digit represents where and for how long the tree spent its growing time. Add all the digits to know the total age of the plant. The information is useful because you will know how much to expect to pay and how the tree has been prepared for your purchase.
- 1-0 The plant is 1 year old and has never been transplanted.
- Plug The plant is 1 year old and was grown in a greenhouse tray.
- P/F The plant is 1 year old. It was started in a greenhouse tray and grown for approximately 12 weeks and then transplanted to a field where it finished the same growing year.
- P-1 The plant is 2 years old: 1 year in a green house and 1 in a transplant bed.
- 2-0 The plant is 2 years old, never transplanted.
- 2-1 The plant is 3 years old: 2 years in a seed bed and 1 year in a transplant bed.
- P-2 The plant is 3 years old. One year in a plug tray and 2 years in a transplant bed.
A transplanted tree has been dug moved from the seed bed or plug tray and then graded and root pruned. It is replanted into a field with wider spacing. The trees roots will be pruned two or three times each summer to stimulate thick, heavy root systems on evenly balanced trees.
The act of transplanting is time consuming and uses a lot of field space. It increases root mass and stimulates the stem to get thicker but since energy is going into the roots & stems the top growth slows. Transplanted trees are stocky, well balanced, consistently sized and priced to cover the extra production costs.
What do they look like?Well, just like it sounds. For bare root trees the soil will be completely shaken off & they will have their roots exposed. Most trees run around 6″-12″ but some are smaller and some quite a lot bigger. See the catalog for specific descriptions. The potted trees are shipped inside the pots. Plugs are shipped in the plug trays during the summer but removed and boxed for dormant season shipments.
Frequently Asked QuestionsSeeds are directly dropped onto a prepared seed bed in the spring and grown for 1-3 years. Most are grown for 2 years. During dormant season they will be lifted, shaken out, sorted, graded and bagged. Then they go into cold storage or freezer storage until its time to be shipped or transplanted. It takes nearly three months to dig all the seedlings, we will pack around 100,000 or more each day. Our record for a single day is 345,000 trees!
Questions About Forestry
Do you ever buy seed directly?No, we occasionally have our own crews collect seed that is not commercially available but we prefer to buy from commercial companies. Their job is precise and we respect their skills. Additionally they will sometimes handle the importing of seed from overseas for our ornamental line.
How does the nursery get seeds?We buy seeds from commercial seed companies who in turn have contracted with collectors. The collectors go into forests and tag the bags of cones with the elevation and area. That information stays with the cones through the drying, seed extraction, storage and sale to us. We continue the label in the field and on the finished packed bags of trees loaded on your truck.
Which is most important zone or elevation?Zone is the first issue to consider. You should never reforest with seeds from a very distant zone, even if from the same elevation. It is better to buy trees from seed grown in your zone and then try to get trees in that zone from the right elevation too. If necessary it is OK to plant from a higher elevation but buying from a lower elevation and planting higher may not be as successful.
Why do some maps and some nurseries use a three digit zone number, some a one digit zone number?The original mapping system used a three digit number to identify the numerous zones. In 1996 the Oregon maps were revised to reflect current research which indicated that temperature and precipitation were primary factors in genetic selection. It was discovered that the zones could be elongated north and south following these two factors and some zones could be consolidated. The new zones were labeled with a single digit. Since the three digit system is more precise and that information is still available to us we will continue to use it. However, the new information is extremely valuable when a planting needs to be completed and seed from that precise area is not available: we can know which of the neighboring areas is best suited as an alternate.
How important is elevation & seed zone choice?Very important. For maximum growth rate and suitability to any given site you should try to get trees grown from seed collected in that area and elevation band.
How do we go about getting the right seed zone & elevation?
We can advise you. The western states are divided into large “zones” that are numbered. From our zone maps we can tell you your zone. These zones are subdivided into elevation bands of 500 feet. Most zones have 2-3 elevation bands and they are referred to by the uppermost elevation. Example: 0-500′ is called 500, sometimes it’s written as ..5. The band that is 500′-1000′ is called 1000 or 1.
How many?Standard reforestation rates are 400 per acre which allows for spacing every 10 feet.
It is assumed some natural thinning will take place due to animals, weather or other damage. Pre-commercial thinning in a few years will correct any excess. If there are existing trees in the area then the figure can be adjusted downward.
Species to consider for the Pacific Northwest west of the Cascade Mountain rangeSpecies to consider for the Pacific Northwest west of the Cascade Mountain range:
Dry to semi damp site:
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Ponderosa Pine (Willamette Valley strain) (Pinus Ponderosa)
Damp to fairly wet:
Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)
Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)
Red Alder (Alnus rubra)
Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)
Red Alder (Alnus rubra)
Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia)
Ponderosa Pine (Willamette Valley strain) (Pinus ponderosa)
***Species for east of the Cascade Mt range to Idaho:
Ponderosa Pine (eastern strain) (Pinus ponderosa)
Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta, murryana)
Questions About Christmas Trees
What should I do in preparation?Get your field in the best possible condition in the fall. Test the soil for nutrients and make any corrections. Get the field plowed & prepared so that when planting time comes in the spring you will be ready to go. If you have to wait for the field to dry so that it can be worked and then planted you may end up planting quite late and having much higher losses, less growth or both.
How do I know if a species will grow in my area/how do I get started?Observe what other growers are doing, call your county extension agent, check with an agricultural university in your area, join the local Christmas tree association or nursery association & attend their events. Consider any new planting a trial and start slow. Don’t automatically rule out failures but retry anything that held real promise using different methods. Visit retail sales lots and note what species, size or “look” seems to be moving best. Also note what didn’t sell. Finally, know your own farm. Let the soil, moisture & elevation available help you. Pick what will grow best rather than what will sell best. You’ll never sell the plant that struggled on a wrong site.
Why do you depend on wild seed collection?Cost of production is a major factor. Conifers are not easy to root and seed orchards take large land areas and years of growth to produce seed. When genetically improved seed is available, we do offer trees grown from it. Christmas tree preferences and ornamental fashions change. It is unrealistic to provide an orchard for every possible scenario. Research continues to identify consumer taste and production methods. For now using wild seed is often the most economical method. We study, research and use preferred seed sources from wild collections as well as controlled orchard seed to provide best options for our customers.
Why are some seed sources hard to get?It is normal for wild forests to have erratic seed production cycles. A bumper crop of seed will come when natural conditions are just right and then there will usually be a few years of smaller crops until those right conditions happen along again. We never know when a good crop of seed will be available so we try to buy enough in good years to freeze for the future but sometimes there’s not enough to last. Other factors enter in too. Some seed is collected in National Forests where special regulations might interfere with collection. Some is imported from foreign countries where political concerns change availability. Finally, some seed doesn’t store well enough to last until a good seed crop comes up again.
Which seed zone is best?Preferred seed zones are identified to help growers select from the best areas but no one area produces the best plant for everyone. It’s all really a matter of personal preference & production styles. New growers should note how every field responds and stick with zones that do best in that situation.
How are seedlings for Christmas trees different from forestry trees?A very common question, in the Pacific Northwest especially where forestry is so common. Christmas tree seed is collected in specific areas of specific forests where testing has indicated those specific places will often yield trees with certain desirable traits. Researchers look for wild trees that are naturally fast growing, symmetrical, bushy and green, and they collect seed from those narrow areas.
Forests are usually replanted with trees grown from seed collected from the original forest trees. So: seeds collected from any given forest could be used to replant that same forest or be used in Christmas tree production anywhere the species will grow, if the trees from that forest area usually has the desirable Christmas tree traits.
Christmas tree growers have styles and growing preferences so no one seed source is best. We grow the top four to six seed sources so that each grower can make a choice based on past experience and locations. We also grow from the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Associations Elite orchard seed.
Questions About Ornamental Nursery Stock
What is “lining out stock”?The term “liner” is loosely used in the industry. We use it to describe small plants that can be just planted out and grown larger, then sold. Many plants have a nice color and form without the skill or expense of grafting. The moderately priced plants in a retail nursery are often the result of a finished seedling. It’s the least expensive way to get started and there is a wide variety of plant choice.
What is “understock”?Many specialty plants are propagated by grafting. Understock is the root end of a graft, scion wood is the new part that is grafted onto the understock. The scion is a short piece of wood, from a plant with desirable color, form or in some other characteristic. Once the graft is healed the original plants’ top is removed and only the newly attached tip remains. Since many scions can be collected from one special plant and all will look just like the parent, grafting the desirable plant onto an ordinary plant root is a good way to get many dependable copies. We supply the understock to many grafters and they provide the scions for their own grafting program. Grafted plants command a higher price, it’s a skill that needs practice but is not terribly difficult on most species in our list.
If I had some extra space and wanted to start a wholesale nursery, what should I grow?That’s the proverbial “crystal ball” question, much like “what stock should I buy?”
The answer will start with “It depends.” Options to consider: growing in container or in the ground, marketing locally or distantly, wholesale or retail. If you want to market locally in a retail setting you should have some variety of species, some flowering and some conifer. A variety of pricing, species and sizes should be considered. For wholesale: you’d probably want to start with a few species in a selected size range. Think about how you’d market those plants and how you’d get them to market. Once you have some experience some expansion may make sense, or just as likely, narrowing of focus for a specialty may work out. In any event the above issues need some thought first. The good news: bare root seedlings and plugs are the least expensive way to get started.
Questions about Plugs
What are the plugs?Plugs are plants grown in greenhouse trays filled with potting mix. They are shipped with small root balls of soil as opposed to the larger field grown plants which are shipped with the soil shaken off. Plugs are smaller and very easy to handle. We grow in a variety of plug trays, each selected according to the plants that will be propagated.
Benefits from the plugs include:
Potting is easier (and mechanization is an option) because the plants are small, consistent and have uniform root balls.
There is very little transplant shock on plugs.
Plugs are available almost year around while bare root trees are available only during dormant season.
Large plugs may withstand late season field planting better than bare root trees.
Aggressive plants can be started in a plug tray and transplanted in July to take advantage of both production methods in a single season. Called Plug to Field (P/F) it yields hefty, bushy, consistent but inexpensive plants.
Some plugs can be potted in July and finish as a #1 (approx. one gallon) by fall.
Most plugs are egg shaped units of 4.2 cu of soil or long narrow bullets of 7-10 cu of soil. Availability varies.