Bare rootin’

Fri. Mar. 20, 2020

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Bare rootin’

Bare root plants are awesome… partly because they’re less expensive!

Bare root tree

When the soil isn’t soggy, you can start sticking these bad boys in the soil, cool temps do not bother them!

bare root tree has no soil at all around its roots.  It’s been removed from the soil while still dormant.  These trees are generally kept dormant by refrigeration until sold.

Bare root trees, shrubs and roses are often quite a bit less expensive than any other type. Find some great pictures and good information at Howbert & Mays

alpine currant friendly fence – these were bare root plants – the picture is 3 years later, they continued to grow and may still be!

If you’re transporting bare root trees, their roots must be protected from drying out, wrap them in plastic.  If you ordered online, the roots will come packed in a box full of damp mulching material.

Leave them packed and keep them wet until you’re ready to plant.  If you picked up the tree from your nursery, pack the roots and wet mulching material into a plastic bag and close the top around the trunk.  Store only for short periods in the garage or in the shade until ready to plant, keeping the mulching material wet.

For 3 to 6 hours before planting, soak the roots in a bucket of water.  Make sure the roots are fully immersed but don’t crush them.   In the picture below, they look a little cramped!  Use a larger container.

bare root tree roots soaking in water

Dig a hole at least twice as wide as the length of the roots spread horizontally.  Don’t plant too deep.  The portion of the trunk that was originally below ground before it was dug up will be discolored, often darker, that’s your planting level.    And yet more information and pictures at Midwest Gardening

Mound some soil in the middle of the hole to place your plant on top of.  Spread the roots out horizontally, this is where those roots will get their water, oxygen and nutrients.  (eventually they will grow deeper on their own).  Fill the hole with soil, gently work the soil around the roots while holding your plant steady.  I know, you need 3 hands for this!

bare root planting

Gently pack the soil down with your feet, hands, and/or water.  You want your bare root stock watered thoroughly and not let it dry out.  Water often during the first year.  Do NOT fertilize right away.  Bare root roots are more vulnerable to fertilizer burn.  You can fertilize with a weak solution in 4 weeks.

Carpet roses

Bare root stock CAN be kept for a week IF you place the roots in soil, keeping them moist and out of direct sunlight.

Bare root trees are will catch up to the more expensive container grown in a few years.  The price difference may be well worth it.

Watch this video I did in 2013 with Leif Knecht…