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Our Story

James Hart Stark - Founder of Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards Co. Luther Burbank - Agricultural Science Pioneer

The Beginning

In 1816, James Hart Stark and a small band of pioneers moved from Hutchison, Kentucky. They settled on the western banks of the Mississippi in a place that would later become Louisiana, Missouri. With him, Stark brought a bundle of apple scions from his family orchard. From this bundle grew a thriving nursery business.

James Stark had started a tradition of horticultural excellence. Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards Co. gained world leadership as a developer and promoter of outstanding fruit varieties. The most famous of these are the Stark Red Delicious Apple from 1893 and the Stark Golden Delicious Apple from 1914.

This work of quality and excellence led to an association with famed plant wizard Luther Burbank. He selected Stark Bro's to carry on his work and willed over 750 varieties to the company in the late 1920s. Today, Stark Bro's holds exclusive propagation rights to many patented varieties of fruit. Paul Stark, Sr. was instrumental in writing U.S. legislation creating plant patents in the 1930s. Stark Bro's continues to use those laws in developing our own new varieties.

Stark Bro's Garden Center Stark Bro's warehouse

Continuing Dedication

In 1994, a large mail-order corporation purchased Stark Bro's. Less than a decade later, during the summer of 2001, that company went out of business. This put most of Stark Bro's dedicated employees out of work. The former employees still took to budding trees in the fields, although they received no pay, as there was no source of income. Not wanting the Stark Bro's legacy to desolate, they grafted and budded every rootstock that remained.

On the, now historic, morning of September 11, 2001 an auction decided the new direction of our historic company. Stark Bro's was once again under family ownership, and it remains one of the oldest businesses in the country.

In 2013, Stark Bro's and Miller Nurseries out of Canandaigua, New York, joined forces. This makes it possible for Stark Bro's to offer our time-honored favorites as well as dozens of new varieties of trees and plants! Stark Bro's is still family owned and dedicated to top quality products and service. Plus Stark Bro's is now the largest online direct-to-consumer nursery company in the country.

Stark Bro's Barn

Looking Forward

Stark Bro's continues to operate in the tradition of the past 198 years. We intend to be at the forefront of the industry in innovation and productivity. You can look forward to many years of new Stark products to meet your fruit tree, small fruit, nut and landscaping needs in the future. As we move into our third century of operation, look for us. We will be there.

Which option is best for me?

Bare-root Trees

Trees that are shipped without soil to ensure good contact with soil in your yard. When shipped, they are about 3-4' tall with 3/8" or larger trunk diameter. When they mature, they will be one of three sizes*:

Dwarf

Matures to be about 8-10' tall and wide. Provides an abundance of full-size fruit.

Semi-Dwarf

Matures to be about 12-15' tall and wide. Gives maximum fruit yield per square foot.

Standard

Matures to be about 15-25' tall and 20' wide. A multi-purpose fruit and shade tree.

Stark Supreme Tree®

Top-grade, bare-root trees that give you a head start on growing. When shipped, they are about 4-5' tall with 5/8" or larger trunk diameter.

EZ Start® Potted Trees

Trees in bottomless pots that allow some roots to be air pruned, so that a dense mass of productive, feeder roots can grow within the pot to make transplanting easier. Mature sizes vary. When shipped, they are about 1-2' tall.

Select EZ Start® Potted Trees

Top-grade, potted trees chosen to give you a head start on growing. When shipped to you, they are about 3-4' tall.

*Tree sizes may vary by variety. See our Growing Guide for details.