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How to Choose the Right Bare Root Fruit Tree

By on February 07, 2011

With all the bare root fruit trees for sale, how do you decide?

Fruit Trees Multi-Graft Trees Nut Trees
Fruit Trees Multi-Graft Trees Nut Trees

Grow what you love to eat—the fruits you look forward to all year—from your own bare root fruit trees.

What are the apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, pluots, persimmons, and cherries you want to bite into this summer?

Do you hanker after quinces and jujubes (Chinese Dates)? Want multiple fruits from the same tree? We have all of these, ready to ship.

July Elberta Peach Tree Pink Lady Apple Tree Bing Cherry Tree
July Elberta Peach Tree Pink Lady Apple Tree Bing Cherry Tree

Start by checking the hardiness zones of your favorite fruit varieties

Hardiness zones are descriptions of how cold your temperatures get year-round. Peaceful Valley has the USDA hardiness zone numbers listed for each fruit variety, often something like 5-9. To find out your zone number, plug your zip code in to the USDA map.

What do “chill hours” mean in fruit tree descriptions?

You’ll see another number in a fruit tree’s description—from 100 up to 1,000. That’s the number of hours the tree needs to be cold during dormancy, and it’s called a chill hour.

According to Dave Wilson (the company that supplies most of our bare root trees) a chill hour is generally defined as one hour under 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now, most people don’t sit out with a clipboard and a thermometer every day, calculating chill data. So to get your approximate number of chill hours, contact your local Cooperative Extension (Farm Advisors or Master Gardeners too).

As always, we’re here to help. Our catalog features icons to give you an idea of what grows well in different climates: a palm tree for mild areas like Los Angeles, and a snowflake for cold areas like Nebraska.

almond tree bee

What are the pollen needs of the various bare root fruit trees for sale?

Some fruit trees need to be planted within 50 to 100 yards of each other for pollination. Others can go it alone and are called “self-pollinating”. We’ll tell you the pollination requirements for each of our trees.

Peaceful Valley employee unloading bare root trees

How to find the best quality in bare root fruit trees

Bare root fruit trees are pretty simple looking—“sticks with roots” is a popular description. You want a robust tree (or stick) that is balanced by good root development. A big stick that has only tiny roots will turn into a stressed tree after it’s planted.

We have a great crop of bare root fruit trees this year, with large roots balancing the optimal size of the 5/8” diameter, 4’ to 5’ tall trees, mostly on semi-dwarf rootstock. We get so excited about the roots that one year we even wrote about it when the trees arrived. Our trees are two-years old (one year closer to fruiting than what you will find in most nurseries).

Use these guidelines for choosing bare root nut trees, as well as bare root fruit trees

Before they arrive, watch Tricia’s video on planting bare root trees and read our tree-planting tips. Special advice for planting the multi-budded or multi-graft trees: plant the smallest limb facing south or southwest.

Enjoy planning for your fruit and nut harvest! It’s a fun time of year with all the bare root fruit trees for sale.

  Comments (8)


We are planning on planting an Apple Orchard with at least 15 trees this late fall early winter. We are located in the 9a Zone. Any advice on what trees to plant and when is the best time to plant?  Thank you.

Posted by Tracy Rawlins on Sep. 23, 2012 at 1:02:00 PM

Tracy, It’s not intuitive, but you can live in a “warm” zone like 9a and still have long chill hours. Near Modesto, for instance, they have that combination. So you’ll need to check your chill hours, using the link in this article. Once you have the chill hours and your zone number, it will be easy to choose apple trees from our Bare Root catalog. If you didn’t get one in the mail, download it here Write again with your chill hours and I’ll be happy to help you plan your apple orchard!

We ship the trees in December and that will be a good time to plant them.

Posted by on Oct. 05, 2012 at 3:10:54 PM


We’d like to replace our ancient, dying orchard with a variety of fruit and nut trees.  In particular, we’d like to prune the open vase way, keeping the trees low and manageable.  Do we need to stay with dwarf or semi-dwarf, or can we manage to shape/contain the growth of a standard tree to 8-10 feet?  I’d love to grown a pecan tree, but 100 feet!!  Also, we are at 2600 feet elevation, right in Grass Valley.  We have an open field, red clay soil, and it’s been an unused pasture, just mowed once yearly, for 30 years.  We hope to be using deep wood chip mulch, as per ‘BacktoEden’ ideas.  Primary concern: pruning/training standard to low, open vase shape and size - doable?  advisable?  alternative?  (Guess we’ll be planting soon, in February!)  Thanks!

Posted by Patty McKeehan on Jan. 01, 2013 at 5:20:57 PM

Patty, If you’re going to restore an orchard, be sure to check the range of information we have in Fruit Tree Central (all our fruit tree videos & articles) We have a new article there that compares the training styles of trees. The problem with open vase training is that you end up with weak branches that usually need to be supported while they are fruiting. Modified Central Leader is the most popular style with orchardists. Dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstocks will help you. You can prune a standard rootstock tree to keep it low, but your lives will be easier if you start with smaller rootstock. You say it is red clay soil, but most soil in the upper levels of Nevada County is actually clay loam. Start with a soil test, to see if you need to amend your soil. While you are waiting for the results, shop our selection of trees online, by using the sidebar categories to narrow your choices for size, zone, and chill hours. Then come to our nursery to choose your trees, with the help of our staff, and enjoy quantity discounts. The best book you can buy is The Home Orchard, by Chuck Ingels from UC Davis Extension

Posted by on Jan. 09, 2013 at 3:40:54 PM


We would like to plant a crab apple tree that will grow tall enough for us to prune it so that the first branches start around five to six feet off the ground.  Do you know how tall the Transcendent Crab Apple grows?  Thanks for your help!

Posted by Anja Pitsker on Mar. 08, 2015 at 8:34:36 AM

The mature size for that tree varies between 15-20 feet.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Mar. 11, 2015 at 9:46:27 AM


Sorry if this is a silly question, but are your trees organic?

Posted by Suzanne on Oct. 22, 2015 at 8:07:30 PM

Our bare root trees are not certified organic.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on Nov. 02, 2015 at 9:12:34 AM

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