5 reasons to buy tree & shrub seedlings; sales are open now

tree seedlings from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Photo courtesy New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Sales of tree and shrub seedlings are again being held in Western New York through counties and through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Here are 5 reasons why you should consider buying tree or shrub seedlings:

  • The plants are inexpensive. They’re seedlings, so they’re not very big, but they don’t cost much, either. You do have to buy in quantity (I think the smallest quantity was five seedlings), but I’m sure you know another gardener or gardening organization that will be happy to nurture any seedlings you can’t use.
  • Did you lose a tree or shrub in our two big winter storms this season? Find something to replace those that were damaged.
  • Most of the plants offered in the sales are natives. To help the bees and butterflies and birds–and our environment as a whole–we need native trees and shrubs in our yards.
  • When we think about our gardens, we usually think about “plants”–perennials and annuals–rather than shrubs and trees. Look at the list in your county and the DEC sale. You may find that a tree or shrub is just what you have been missing in your landscape.
  • We gardeners love our tomatoes and peppers, but don’t forget that food grows on trees, too! Once they are established, trees and shrubs will be there every year–you won’t have to keep buying new seedlings every spring the way you do with tomatoes and peppers.

Tree & shrub seedling sales

The sales have different ordering deadlines. The organizers suggest you order early to make sure the items you want are still in stock.

The county sales generally have you pick up your seedlings in April.

Some of the sales offer additional items, such as a tree shelter to keep rabbits or deer away from your tree seedling.

State sale

The Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery annual spring seedling sale is open to the public and runs until May 12. Each year, the nursery offers low-cost, New York-grown tree and shrub species for sale to encourage plantings that help conserve the state’s natural resources and foster the next generation of forest.

Browse this year’s selection. Get your order in early because many favorites go quickly. They recommend placing your order by phone for the most up-to-date species availability information. Seedlings will be shipped mid-April through May.

Sales in WNY counties

Cattaraugus County

Chautauqua County

Erie County

Genesee County

Niagara County

Orleans County (See pages 6 &7.)

Free seedlings for youth education

Applications are being accepted now through March 31 for the School Seedling Program. Schools and youth education organizations may apply to receive up to 50 free tree or shrub seedlings to plant with their students.

All schools (public, private, nursery, elementary, secondary, vocational, college or university), homeschool groups, and any youth education-based organization may apply, provided trees are planted within New York State. Individual homeschools must apply through a homeschool group, co-op or other association.

Seedlings are two to three years old, about four inches to 12 inches tall, and bare-root. There are three packets available: 50 white spruce, 25 red oak, or 30 mixed shrub species good for wildlife habitat. Each school or organization may receive only one packet per year.

See more information and to apply online. For assistance or questions, contact the Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery at nysnursery@dec.ny.gov or 518-581-1439.

4 Comments on “5 reasons to buy tree & shrub seedlings; sales are open now

  1. Hi Donna, the state sale began Jan. 5. The county sales don’t begin quite that early. I try to post an article about these sales as soon as the county sales are open. Next year, if you want to see what is available on the state sale, go to this page at the beginning of January. I hope that helps.

  2. Upon reading what’s available in your post dated 1/24/23 for the tree and shrub sale, I find it appalling that most of the stuff is already sold out, particularly the best stuff. My oh my is all I can say. Who exactly gets the first shot at buying the most favored plants and shrubs?Such a disappointment.

  3. Hi Lawrence, the folks in Niagara County who produced the order form may not see your comment. It’s a good suggestion, so you’re better off contacting them directly.

  4. For Niagara County – whose idea was it to produce the tree and shrub order form on shaded paper? Do they not realize the amount of printer ink it takes to print out the form. They never use to do it this way in the past.

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