Evergreen Plug Transplants

Now accepting pre-orders

We have begun accepting pre-orders of most evergreen plug transplants, with shipping set to begin October 30, 2017

Update [Oct 9]: It has been a less than stellar growing season for our plug transplants, and we are still waiting for most to root properly. A few species will be ready to ship by late October, particularly the norway spruce and colorado blue spruce and eastern red cedar, but we do not yet have high confidence in some other species. We moved the entire plug transplant crop out into the shady, cool woods due to the Sept/Oct heat wave, but they are now back out in nearly full sun with a root-friendly fertilizer plan, which has been helping tree-mendously.

If you would like to be notified when these start shipping, please consider joining our very unobtrusive email list [we only send a few emails per year]. If you need trees sooner, please consider our other three sizes/types [bare root seedlings, bare root transplants, plug seedlings]

Austrian Pine Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •
Balsam Fir Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •
Black Hills Spruce Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •
Colorado Blue Spruce Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •
Concolor Fir Plug Transplants – not available in Fall 2017 / Spring 2018 •
• Douglas Fir Plug Transplants – not available in Fall 2017 / Spring 2018 •
Eastern Red Cedar Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •
Fraser Fir Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •
Meyers Spruce Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •
Norway Spruce Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •
Ponderosa Pine Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •
Red Pine Plug Transplants – available for pre-order, limited quantities •
Serbian Spruce Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •
Tamarack Larch Plug Transplants – not available in Fall 2017 / Spring 2018 •
Variety Pack of Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •
White Cedar Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •
White Pine Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •
White Spruce Plug Transplants – available for pre-order •

Conservation Grade Plug Transplants [the 30% off cheapskate option] – not available in Fall 2017 •

Confused about species? Try our Evergreen Tree Buyer’s Guide >>

A 5-pack of Norway Spruce plug transplants carefully anchored to the bottom of a box and ready to shipWhat is an evergreen tree plug transplant?

Our specific plug transplants begin as 1-2 year old plug seedlings which are extracted from foam styroblock trays and transplanted into much larger trays, then grown at our nursery for at least one full season, putting on robust growth both above and below ground. The volume of the “root plug” of a plug seedling is approx 4 cubic inches, whereas the root plug of a plug transplant is approx 30 inches, meaning the root system is nearly 10 times larger. Plug transplants are therefore significantly huskier and larger than plug seedlings both above and below ground, have a higher survival rate, experience less stress during harvesting, shipping and replanting than bare root trees, and can be planted at almost any time of year. In most situations, fall-planted plugs already have good root development before spring bud break and put on more growth before the heat of the following summer sets in. They tend to reach a more mature height at an earlier age, and their well developed and undisturbed root systems make them somewhat more resistant to unseasonably dry periods in the Spring. Our plug transplant sizes range between 10 to 30 inches, depending on species [height does not include the root plug]. Please refer to the exact sizing info available on each tree’s specific page.

Why are plug transplants so much more expensive than the other sizes?

Because they’re harder to grow and require specialized equipment…they must be planted by hand from a more expensive “starter” seedling, the soil must be purchased and conditioned to meet our specific criteria, and they often have a higher loss rate during the growing season. In general, plug transplants require more work than any other method of growing evergreens. But they have some key advantages, such as:

Super fast planting: Perhaps the most important advantage of all from your point of view as the person who will be doing the planting, plug transplants are just jaw droppingly fast and easy to plant compared to a similarly sized bare root evergreen….provided that you have an auger sized to fit the root plug of a plug transplant. For many people, the amount of time and backbreaking work saved using this planting method [see our plug seedling planting video and our plug transplant planting video] often outweighs the lower cost of bare root evergreens.

Winter shipments: Plug transplants can be shipped from our site in MI at nearly any time of year, such as before the ground has thawed, which is impossible with “bare root” trees. We can bring trays of plug transplants indoors to thaw for shipment to weddings, corporate events or to southern states…pretty much whenever you like. But thawing and extracting during the winter months is a lot of extra work.

Late Spring/Summer shipments: Plug transplants can be shipped long after they have broken bud or have begun candling [a time when bare root evergreens would die if dug and shipped]. At this time of year we generally pack them with their tender new top growth exposed to the open air inside the box, thus only temporarily interrupting their daily diet of sunlight, and allowing them to pull moisture from their root plug and transpire it into the open air to keep cool. We also punch holes in the box to allow fresh air to enter the box, keeping the humidity inside the box low enough that the trees can transpire water through their needles to keep cool. They actually keep growing during transit and keep their vitality much longer in the box than bare root evergreens. This means plug transplants can safely be shipped and planted even in June and July, long after the traditional bare root season is done, because they are actually already planted when you open the box!

Undisturbed root systems: Plug transplants by their very nature are shipped with their root systems almost perfectly undisturbed and undamaged, unlike traditional bare root, because they literally pop out of the trays with virtually no stress or damage to the root system. Because of this undisturbed root system, they experience far less “transplant shock” during extraction/sorting/packing/shipping than bare root transplants, which allows plug transplants to put on more growth than bare root in the same amount of time. However, this factory-style growing method means that the trees must be cared for on a daily basis, with most of that extra work being nearly daily irrigation.

Having said all of that, our bare root transplants are often quite a bit bigger than our plug transplants, and there is a long tradition in the nursery industry of growing and planting bare root transplants. But we’re not satisfied with doing things the way they’ve always been done

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