Bare root planting is some of the easiest you can do and early spring is the perfect time to give it a try. Spring is about the only time of year that bare-root plants are available. Usually you’ll find roses, fruit trees, vines, rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries  and even deciduous trees being sold bare-root. Conifers, if available bare-root, are small seedlings.

Bare root plants are sold while dormant and when planted right away have a great ability to establish quickly. I like bare-root planting because you can see the entire root system and correct any problems before you plant. Here are a few tips to help you succeed with bare root planting.

Bare-root plants are usually small and without soil around their root system. It’s most important that the roots aren’t allowed to dry out, so minimize the amount of time they are exposed to air.  Most bare root plants come in a prepackaged bag with dampened soil aid or other moist medium around the root system to keep them slightly hydrated and protected. Bare root trees may be pulled from a trench and you’ll be responsible for keeping the root system protected until you get home. Plan ahead and take something damp to put around the root system while traveling. Plant any bare-root plant as soon as possible.

Before planting, examine the root system and cut back damaged roots making a clean cut. Soak the roots in water for one or two hours to rehydrate them. Dig your planting hole while the plant is soaking. Make sure the hole is not too deep but wide enough to accommodate the roots without bending them or circling them around the hole. It’s better to make a clean cut and shorten the root then to circle it. Circling roots will only cause you problems down the line.

Next, in the bottom of your planting hole, make a volcano of soil. Sit the plant on top of the volcano and spread the roots down over the mound. This ensures soil up under the plant crown.

When planting a tree, the graft should be above ground and the root flare should be at ground level. The root flare is where the roots start emerging from the trunk. Chances are you’ll need to stake bare-root trees. Place a stake on either side with a figure eight loop around the tree. Be sure to use a soft material for the tie so it won’t damage the tender bark of the small tree. It’s important to allow room for a little movement to encourage a stronger root system and trunk.

When planting roses, in this area of the country, the graft should be placed below ground by about 2 inches.  Any plant should be well watered after planting.

I know you’re itching to plant something. D&B carries lots of different bare root plants. Try one this year. Follow these simple guidelines to help them off to a good start and by summer’s end you should have a strong, healthy plant.


  1. Dorothy Millard says:

    My husband bought me a small potted rose plant for Valentine’s Day.
    Can I plant it like the bare root advice you gave?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>