This post is my review of Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards Co (catalog arrives as Stark Bro’s, and the online store is located at I have ordered regularly from Stark for over a decade, and I’ve purchased a large variety of plants, including trees, shrubs, and even asparagus roots. In a nutshell, I am very pleased with the quality of product that Stark delivers. This post outlines why.

How Extensive is Stark Bro’s Fruit Tree & Plant Selection?

Stark Bros is a fruit-heavy nursery, although it also offers nut trees, some flowers, some landscape plants, and some vegetables such as potatoes, asparagus, herbs, and others.

The emphasis on fruit gardening means that Stark offers an absolutely outstanding variety of fruit trees and plants to choose from.

In terms of temperate-zone fruits, Stark offers an excellent selection of the “basics” (think apples, pears, soft fruits, basically anything you’d expect to run into at your local nursery.) However, the number of cultivars per species is almost definitely far beyond what your local nursery offers.

  • Example: As of July 2023, Stark listed 61 varieties of apple on its website, and you can further narrow down selections by dwarf or semi-dwarf. They have four varieties of columnar apple.

Beyond the basics, Stark has some pleasant surprises in terms of unusual and hard-to-find varieties. They have at times offered the Chelan Sweet Cherry tree, for instance, which they rated (as of spring 2023) to a whopping zone 3 cold tolerance… which is basically unheard of for a sweet cherry.

For windowsill and subtropical dwarf fruit trees, Stark does better than most. They have your basic windowsill trees (banana and popular citrus such as the dwarf Meyer lemon, key lime, and calamondin orange). They also have more difficult to find varities, such as a Mandarin orange (on my wish list), other sweet oranges, and avocados… but be forewarned, the less popular the tree, the higher the pricetag.

Notably, Stark Bro’s nut tree selection is far broader than any of the other nurseries in my “top five” list. As always, there’s a limit to what you can find that is guaranteed to survive zone 4 winters, but there’s a few to choose from (and I’m still kind of hoping that their “heartnut” comes back in stock one of these years).

*Note: I strongly feel that if you purchase a tree or plant note rated for your zone, you shouldn’t ever request a refund if it doesn’t survive. I don’t even request a refund if the tree fails to break dormancy. So don’t take my experimentation as guarantee of survival!

How Does Stark Bro’s Score in Plant Quality, Honesty & Reliability?

I am never worried about the quality of the plants I order from Stark. They arrive nicely packed, are shipped at the right time for planting in my zone, and everything is visibly healthy and robust.

Another nice thing about Stark Bro’s is that they typically pre-prune trees before they ship them out — or at least, they have for all of the trees I have purchased. The description will let you know if the tree is professionally pruned prior to shipping.

(They do a nice job on the pruning, too, which takes a lot of the worry out of the first year where ensuring a strong structure for the young tree is a big deal.)

Note that most fruit trees I’ve purchased from Stark Bros have been sold as bare-root trees. For some varieties, they also do offer what they call “EZ-Start” trees, which arrive potted; I rarely opt for these, and find their bare-root varieties do just fine.

I have included two example pictures of the bare-root purchases I’ve made from Jung. (I have photos dating back over ten years; these just give examples. If anyone wants an example of a specific plant, let me know and I can search through archives to see what I have and how old the photo is.)

Overall, I rate their quality and plant descriptions very highly.

How is Stark Bro’s Customer Service?

I’ve only had to contact Stark’s customer service a few times (which is good indication in itself that they provide high-quality plants). I have never had a problem. The staff has always been prompt, professional, and polite. You may have to take a photo of the plant / box / packing slip, depending on what the problem is.

The nice thing about Stark is that it offers a one-year survival guarantee (so long as you don’t do something really stupid with your purchase. If you make a bonfire out of the tree, I certainly wouldn’t refund you). 

However, be aware that the one-year guarantee doesn’t necessarily mean you will know if your tree survives its first winter. Bare-root trees are meant to be planted during dormancy. One year later, chances are good that the tree will once again be dormant… or if it’s dead, you might not know the difference until the guarantee date has already passed. (Figured this out the hard way, myself…)

Overall, I find their customer service very reliable and they honor their guarantees. I give them a good rating.

How Does Stark Bro’s Pricing Compare with Other Nurseries?

I consider Stark to be one of the more upscale nurseries. They offer a wider variety than some other online nurseries do – however, their prices may be significantly higher, depending on what you are looking for. (Looking for strawberries? Stark’s package is often the most affordable, depending on quantity purchased. However, their trees? Not so much.)

The more difficult-to-find varieties tend to be pretty expensive in comparison. Granted, I admit I’m a cheapskate fruit gardener, but personally I’m not willing to spend $80+ on a single tree. Typically, I’ll wait for sales. If the expensive tree is a new variety, I tend to wait for the supply to exceed demand far enough that the price drops. Be aware that sometimes the waiting game isn’t a great option – inflation is everywhere!

If you’re looking to get a deal from Stark Bro’s, I would recommend checking prices just as the season starts. You need to recognize the baseline prices so you’ll know a deal when you see it.

They tend to offer good sales around Pi Day (what? You don’t celebrate Pi Day? It’s March 14th. Make yourself a pie, people). Additionally, they tend to offer select varieties for $18.16 every now and then. (This price is in recognition of their founding year of 1816.)

Finally, you can often get a great deal at the very end of the spring season, when they are clearing out the last of their bare-root inventory. Be aware that many varieties may be out of stock by that point, so you should only wait that long if you are willing to gamble on your favorites no longer being there.

Other Notes on Purchasing from Stark Bro’s:

I do like Stark. They have great plants, a great reputation, and as an added bonus, they offer a fantastic online learning resource on everything from planting to pruning and more. Species-specific care guides? Check. Videos showing exactly what they’re talking about when they describe how to perform specific tasks? Got it.

I really, really like Stark. Depending on what your budget is and what trees or plants you are looking for, it’s hard to find a better option. Personally, I order from them almost every year – and in the years I don’t order, it’s because I’m saving up for next year’s order.

Bottom line? I find Stark Bro’s to be trustworthy, and I never worry about the quality of what I will receive when I spend my money with them. I highly recommend the company.

This post was originally published in 2023. The post may have been since updated. Photos referencing plants ordered within XX years reference date from the ORIGINAL publish of this article in 2023.

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