Good Gardening: A Primer On Bare Root Planting

Feb 6, 2017

Bare root tree and shrub planting time is almost here.  Bare root plants are packed in wet sawdust or shavings, You can get them pre-packaged, but I like going through the bins at local nurseries. You'll see the roots before you buy the tree.

Many plants are now sold in containers, but they're often root bound, and container stock encourage people to plant too late into the spring.   Bare root trees will grow better, cost less, and give you more control of the planting process.  
  Whether you want to put in a rose, blueberries, or a peach tree, bare root planting is the most successful way.
  Here are the steps to follow.  Keep your plants roots wet on the way home from the store, and plant your tree or bush immediately.  Don't let the roots dry out.  Don't sit the bagged plant in the sun while you dig the hole.
  Select a site with adequate sunshine, and room for the tree to grow.  It will get bigger.
  Next take out a circle of sod twice the diameter of the spread out roots.  Save it.  Now dig soil out of the hole into your wheelbarrow, or onto a tarp.  Go down a foot.  Put the removed sod back into the hole upside-down.   As it decomposes, it will release fertility for your plant.
  Finally, put a little soil back in the hole, position the plant so it will be at the same soil line it had originally, and bury the roots with the rest of the dirt.   Do not amend the soil.  Your tree needs to grow in the soil your yard provides.
  Water it in- even if it's raining, cover the bare soil with some leaves, and wait.
For a tree, you will need to water it a few times the first summer or two, and then you are done- except for the 50 years of eating fruit.
  I'm John Fischer with KLCC's Good Gardening.