Bare Root Plants - A Primer

This is the time of the year that you will begin finding bare root plants in your local nursery, a bare root plant is one that is sold with the roots exposed, instead of in a container of soil.

An assortment of plants are available this way such as roses, fruit trees and shrubs, berries, grapes and several perennials including daylilies, irises, and hostas. For these types of plants you will find a significant savings purchasing plants in this condition.

Once you have your plant home it is best to plant it as soon as possible, if you can’t plant it right away the roots need to be kept moist until planting. If you don’t plant within a couple of days, you should cover the roots with compost or planting mix and do not store it in warm conditions or it may begin to grow before you get it into the ground.

Before you plant any new plant you should make sure that you know the needs of your plant. You should take into consideration mature size, sun exposure and water requirements when spotting your plant for planting.

If your bare root plant has a soil level mark, which is darker in color than the trunk, this is the past planting level and the plant should be planted with that point at ground level. Start off by digging a hole 2-3 times wider than the roots and as deep as the level of your soil mark. Mix your native soil with compost or planter mix about 3:1 soil to compost ratio. Make a little cone in the middle of your hole and place the roots over it back fill with about ½ of the soil, tamp down and wet the soil slightly then fill with the rest of the soil, gently tamping down again.

Build a basin around your plant and fill it slowly with water, let it soak in. You may want to do this a few times to make sure that the soil settles and your plants doesn’t sink. Add more soil if necessary moving the plant into place gently.

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