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Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed.
Winston Churchill


Lilac Seedlings

These are lilacs. The bundle is put in a pot, and covered in compost. Then it’s put in the shade, and a sprinkler on a timer waters them 4 times a day for a few minutes. I can stretch bare root stock an extra two weeks this way.

Bare Root & Plug Seedlings

Seedlings are for people who have more patience, thinner wallets, and greener than average thumbs. Starting off with seedlings can save you a bundle. Most of these are available as larger trees too, starting at 2 years and some up to trees that are hard to lift.

Seedlings need to be planted promptly. (Yes, I’m repeating myself.) Most are either dormant bare root, or small plug root systems like your Arbor Day tree. Bare root trees have to be kept moist. Even 30 seconds exposure on a hot windy day can do them in.

Bare root: Trees are grown in the field, then in late fall they are dug with a machine similar to a potato digger that undercuts the row, shakes the dirt off them and dumps them in a bin. Then they go to the sorting shed, where they are graded, counted, bundled, boxed, and frozen lightly until spring.

Plugs: Instead of being in a field, they are grown in styroblocks -- 1 foot x 2 foot x 6 inch blocks with a whole bunch of tiny pot cavities moulded in. When ready the trees are popped out of the block, graded, counted, etc.

Plug trees have smaller root systems, which makes them faster to plant. They have a small supply of soil (peat moss, sand, and perlite mostly) so they don’t dry out as easily. They tend to suffer less from transplant shock. Because they have all the tiny hair roots intact, they can start growing before they get planted, giving you more time to get them in the ground.

Cotoneaster Bare Root shrub

These are 2 year old cotoneaster bare root seedlings. The smallest roots there can dry out in seconds on a hot windy day. Keep in a bucket of damp peat until just before you put them in the ground.

Spruce  bundle Bundle of 15 Spruce plugs. Plugs don’t dry out as fast. But don’t dawdle.

Bare root trees are typically twice as large, with much larger root systems. They have zero protection from drying out. When you pick them up from us, they are either bagged with some wet sawdust, or the bundles are in pots with the roots buried in wet compost. Park in the shade, under a spruce, or on the north side of a building, or in an unheated shed until you are ready to plant.

When you plant, mix up a half bucket slurry of peatmoss, compost, vermiculite, perlite so that it is thick enough for the bundle of trees to stand more or less upright, but thin enough that you can separate one from the bundle. Keep tree roots under the surface as much as possible until just before you plant them. Ideally the bare roots should be exposed to the air for under 30 seconds between removal from the pail and being once again buried. Water the tree as soon as possible after planting.

Plugs also need to be kept moist, but this is a lot easier due to the peat moss around them. The same trick with the peat moss slurry works here too, but it only needs to be a few inches deep.

You have about 4-5 days to deal with bare root, minus the time they have waited for pick up. You have about 10-14 days to deal with plugs, minus the time they have waited for pick up. You can stretch this if you can keep them in a cool place. Unheated shed, north side of a building, dense shade. I set my plugs out on scraps of carpet. Bare root bundles are put into buckets of wet compost. A sprinkler on a timer that waters them all 4 times a day for about 5 minutes.

Below is what I’m currently ordering for seedlings. This gets automatically updated from a spreadsheet. Sales are NOT taken off this, so don’t just assume that because I’m bringing 700 scots pine you can show up here in the middle of May to pick up a couple of bundles. Place your order NOW, or even better, yesterday.

Caveats: Seedling mortality is much higher than with established trees. They cannot be allowed to dry out. You have to keep the weeds a foot away. And you will still lose 10-30 percent of them.

Because they are small, they can get overwhelmed by weeds very easily. And then they are very hard to find. I recommend planting a survey stake with the tree. You can buy these in bundles at any of the big box home DIY stores, make them from scraps or I'll sell them to you for a buck a stick.

Consider growing them for a year or two in pots by the house. It's easier by far to care for them, and generally it's faster to plant into pots than into the ground. The cost of this is transplanting a larger tree down the road.

Seedlings do not carry my usual 1 year guarantee. They are alive and healthy when you pick them up. If you decide that you don't like them at the time of pickup, you can decline, and I will give you credit for your deposit for anything else at the farm.

The list at the very bottom is what I actually have on order, conifers at the top, followed by leaf trees and shrubs. Other things I may be able to get if you ask early enough:

If you can’t do the miniumum, tell me anyway. If I get 2 people who both want 50, I’ll see what I can do. In some cases it will take me an extra year.

If you don’t see it, ask. Can’t hurt, and may help.

Table Notes:

If you want a partial bundle, add 1 per tree. I do not sell less than 5 of any seedling.

Species/Cultivar Container/Format Count Price
Birch, paper 125 ml plug 150 $2.75
Buckthorn, Sea, seed run Bare Root Seedling 68 $3.25
Buffaloberry, Canada 125 ml plug 180 $2.75
Caragana, common Bare Root Seedling 150 $3.25
Cherry, Chokecherry 125 ml plug 180 $2.75
Cotoneaster, Peking Hedge Bare Root Seedling 595 $3.25
Currant, Golden Bare Root Seedling 97 $3.50
Dogwood, Red Osier 125 ml plug 360 $2.75
Dogwood, Red Osier Bare Root Seedling 75 $3.25
Fir, Balsam 80 ml plug 705 $2.25
Fir, Douglas 80 ml plug 630 $2.25
Larch, Siberian 80 ml plug 480 $2.25
Larch, Western 80 ml plug 300 $2.25
Lilac, Common Bare Root Seedling 580 $3.25
Lilac, Late Bare Root Seedling -900 $3.25
Maple, Silver Bare Root Seedling 100 $3.25
Oak, Bur Bare Root Seedling 100 $7.00
Pine, Lodgepole 80 ml plug 315 $2.25
Pine, Ponderosa, Rocky Mtn Bare Root Seedling 200 $3.50
Pine, Scots 80 ml plug 525 $2.25
Pine, Western White 80 ml plug 195 $2.25
Poplar, 'Northwest' 125 ml plug 325 $2.75
Poplar, 'Okanese' 125 ml plug 1170 $2.75
Raspberry, Double Delight Bare Root Seedling 30 $3.25
Raspberry, Souris Bare Root Seedling 75 $3.25
Rose, Prickly 125 ml plug 180 $2.75
Saskatoon, wild Bare Root Seedling 120 $3.25
Snowberry, Common Bare Root Seedling 200 $3.50
Spruce, Black Hills 80 ml plug 495 $2.25
Spruce, Black 80 ml plug 270 $2.25
Spruce, Colorado 80 ml plug 360 $2.25
Spruce, Colorado Bare Root Seedling 500 $3.50
Spruce, White 80 ml plug 540 $2.25
Strawberry, Seascape Bare Root Seedling 50 $1.25
Walnut, Black Bare Root Seedling 147 $5.25
Willow, Acute Leaf 125 ml plug -120 $2.75
Willow, Bebb's 125 ml plug 180 $2.75
Willow, Coyote 330 ml plug 900 $4.00
Willow, Flame 330 ml plug 295 $4.00
Willow, Laurel Leaf 330 ml plug 270 $4.00
Wolf Willow, Silverberry 125 ml plug 160 $2.75

Got something to say? Email me: sfinfo@sherwoods-forests.com

Want to talk right now? Talk to me: (8 am to 9 pm only, please) 1-780-848-2548

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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.