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Smart Gardening: Order Yourself Some Fruit Plants for the Holidays

Photo: Annie Klodd, UMN Extension
Winter is a nice time to order fruit plants to be planted next spring. At this point, most gardeners haven't started their spring orders yet, which means that the nurseries are well stocked with many varieties to choose from. 

Be a smart gardener and get a head start now!

Tip #1: Order from a local Minnesota nursery or plant supplier

If possible, it is a good practice to order fruit plants from a local supplier in your area or region. Not only does this help support our local Minnesota horticulture industry, but it also helps minimize the amount of time that your fruit plants are in transit by the shipping company. It can also help ensure that the varieties you purchase are adapted to your region.

There are a number of nurseries and agricultural suppliers in Minnesota that allow you to do online orders of high quality fruit plants, including raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, honeyberries, and others.

Use the farm directory on www.minnesotagrown.com (a MN Dept. of Agriculture program) to locate Minnesota nurseries that allow online or advance ordering. Googling "fruit trees Minnesota" also works well for this purpose.

Tip #2: Select your shipping date for late May

Many nurseries allow you to choose the date when your fruit plants will ship to you. This is important, because you can make sure your plants are being delivered right before you plan to plant them, minimizing the amount of time you have to keep them refrigerated and moist.

In most of Minnesota, an optimal time to plant fruit plants like raspberries, grapes, and blueberries is late May to early June, once temperatures are consistently warm, the soil is easily workable, and the risk of frost is low.

Tip #3: Select varieties that are suitable for Minnesota's cold climate

When perusing fruit plants online, be sure to check whether the varieties you are interested in will grow in your area. 

The cold hardiness of a variety is indicated by the "USDA Cold Hardiness Zone" which should be listed for each variety online.
Image: Map of USDA cold hardiness zones in Minnesota.
Roughly half of Minnesota is located in USDA Zone 4, and the other approximate half is Zone 3. If you do not know which USDA Zone you are located in, check that before ordering fruit plants. For more information, visit this USDA website. 

USDA cold hardiness zone for Pembina plum, as listed on Gilby's Orchard's website.

Growing a variety that is not hardy in your zone is not likely to be successful and may succumb to winter injury or not produce fruit.

Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production
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