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Choosing seedlings or cultivars?
Each year we offer a combination of cultivars (named plants such as ‘Winter Red’ winterberry or ‘Adams’ elderberry that are propagated clonally) and seedlings (germinated from seed) throughout the catalog. Why? Seedlings are ideal for enhancing biodiversity. When grown from seed, no tree or shrub is genetically identical to any other of its species even though its defining features will remain similar. It is increasingly important to plant seedlings as they are becoming scarcer in the nursery trade, where cookie-cutter cultivars are becoming the norm. The more diversity there is within a species the more resilient and adaptable to change it becomes, therefore making it less susceptible to some pests and diseases.
This is not to say one should not plant cultivars and named varieties. They are quite desirable when you are looking for particular characteristics such as plant size or shape, fruit quality or flower color. We don’t sell lilac seedlings because most customers want to know whether their lilac is going to be purple or white or pink or blue. To ensure you get the color you want, we offer cultivars, which are propagated asexually. For example, lilacs are propagated by cuttings, and other cultivars, such as tree fruit and crab trees, we propagate by grafting. Without grafting, no one would be able to enjoy the distinct flavor of an Ashmead’s Kernel or a Cox’s Orange Pippin and thus our favorite heirloom apples would not exist today. On the other side of the coin, by planting seedlings of Aronia or highbush cranberry, we can enrich our natural landscapes for all creatures, not just us!
Cultivars and varieties
In the nursery trade, the terms ‘cultivar’ and ‘variety’ are mistakenly used interchangeably. Both cultivar and variety names follow the botanical name (Genus species) and are enclosed in single quotes.Examples of cultivars:
In the tree and shrub world, most cultivars and varieties are propagated clonally by cuttings or grafting. When there is no variety or cultivar name after the botanical name, the plant is most likely grown from seed. We often refer to these as “the species” of a plant, or as seedlings.
We offer cultivars and varieties when we think we should and seedlings whenever we can. Variety is the spice of life! We will continue to help you create a diverse landscape while remaining aware that you may want your roses red and your violets blue.
Some benefits of seedlings:
Some benefits of cultivars:
PO Box 520
Clinton, ME 04927
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Fedco Seeds: Tues, Wed & Thur from 9-3
Organic Growers: Tues, Wed & Thur from 9-3
Directions to our Warehouses
Tues, Wed & Thur from 9-3
We will not be open Tuesday, July 4.