Bare Root Planting Guide

About Bare Root Trees

Deciduous plants, or plants that lose their leaves in the winter, experience a dormant period. During this time the plant’s sap is down, concentrating on root growth instead of above ground, feeding foliage and new branches. This is the prime time to plant your fruit trees, berries, and grapes (as well as shade and flowering trees and roses!). As long as the roots are kept moist by covering them with sawdust or garden soil, we can sell them without soil or a container on the roots—thus the name, ‘Bare Root’.

The benefits for the gardener are plenty:
  • Save money because you do not pay for pot, soil or labor
  • Winter and spring rains help to establish plants
  • No heavy pot to transport or dispose

When you purchase bare root trees, you need to be sure to keep the roots from drying out. If you plan to plant them right away when you get home, moisten the roots with a hose and place the trees in an area out of the sun until you’re ready to plant. If you won’t be able to plant them right away, take the plastic bag off, dig a hole in your garden soil, set the trees in the hole, cover all of the roots with soil, moisten the soil thoroughly with water, and plant as soon as possible. If you wait too long and leaves begin to show, the plants will probably go into shock when you pull them out to plant them. When looking for a place to plant your fruit trees, keep in mind that they prefer full sun and a well-drained, loamy soil.

Remember to give your newly planted trees extra attention for their first two seasons in the ground. It takes time for the new roots to become completely established. Water deeply and often so the entire root mass is soaked. The soil around the roots should never completely dry out. Keeping the area around the trunk free from weeds and grass will prevent competition for valued nutrients, and a 2” layer of mulch such as Gardner & Bloome Harvest Supreme or Soil Building Compost will help maintain moisture, but be sure to keep any soil or mulch away from the main trunk of the tree.

Planting Bare Root Trees

  1. Carefully prune off any broken roots before planting.
  2. Dig a hole twice as wide and as deep as the tree’s roots.
  3. With the soil from the hole, mix up to one-third soil amendment such as Gardner & Bloome Soil Building Compost or Gardner & Bloome Harvest Supreme for moisture retention and nutrition.
  4. Place enough of this soil mixture in the bottom of the hole (like a mole hill) to support the roots of the tree. Spread the roots over the soil mound—the roots grow out like a disc in the soil, not down like a carrot. Do not bend or tuck the roots in any way.
  5. Sprinkle one application of Mycorrhiza (MY-CO-RIZE-AH) Inoculant, over the roots of the tree for strong root development. (Follow application directions on the label).
  6. The root flare (where the trunk widens as large roots grow out) should be at the soil line. The soil should slope down from the trunk to the existing soil level. The newly planted tree will look as it is sitting on a little mound. The crown (junction of trunk and roots) must not be buried.
  7. Water thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots and remove any air pockets in the soil.
  8. Mix in Gardener & Bloome Fertilizer in the top three inches of the soil around your newly planted tree for proper nutrition and trace minerals.
  9. Mulch your newly planted tree with 2 to 4 inches of Soil Building Compost covering the entire root zone but not touching the trunk. Wood based mulch keeps the soil consistent in moisture and temperature and encourages beneficial soil organisms like mycorrhiza and earthworms.
  10. It is seldom necessary to stake a bare root tree If circumstances require you to stake your tree, remove the stake 3 to 6 months after planting.
  11. Keep your plant healthy and happy! Mulch and remember to water your new orchard well throughout summer and into fall.