Bareroot Planting: How To Plant Bareroot Trees

Bareroot Tree Roots
(Image credit: Elen11)

Many people buy bareroot trees and shrubs from mail order catalogs in order to take advantage of significant savings. But, when the plants arrive at their home, they may wonder how to plant bareroot trees and what steps do I need to take to ensure that my bareroot tree does well. Keep reading to learn more about planting bareroot trees.

After the Bareroot Tree Transplant Arrives

When your bareroot tree arrives, it will be in a dormant state. You can think of this as like suspended animation for plants. It's important to keep the bareroot plant in this state until you are ready to plant it in the ground; otherwise, the plant will die. In order to do this, make sure to keep the roots of the plants moist by leaving the wrapping on the roots or packing the roots in damp peat moss or soil. Once you are ready to start bareroot planting, mix together water and potting soil to a stew-like consistency. Remove the packing around the roots of the bareroot tree and place into the soil slurry for about an hour to help prepare the roots for planting into the ground.

How to Plant Bareroot Trees

Once you are ready to start the bareroot planting process, remove any tags, bags or wire that may still be on the tree. The next step in bareroot planting is to dig the hole. Dig the hole deep enough so that the tree will sit at the same level that it was grown at. If you look at the area on the trunk just above where the roots begin, you will find a darker colored “collar” on the bark of the trunk. This will mark the place that was ground level for the tree the last time the tree was in the ground and should be located just above the soil when you replant the tree. Dig the hole so that the roots can sit comfortably at this level. The next step when going about planting bareroot trees is to form a mound at the bottom of the hole where the roots of the tree can be placed over. Gently tease apart the bareroots of the tree and drape them over the mound. This will help the transplant develop a healthy root system that does not circle in on itself and become rootbound. The last step in how to plant bareroot trees is to backfill the hole, tamp the soil down around the roots to make sure there are no air pockets and water thouroughly. From here you can treat your bareroot tree like any other newly planted tree. Bareroot trees and shrubs area great way to purchase hard to find plants at great prices. As you have discovered, bareroot planting is not difficult at all; it just requires some prep ahead of time. Knowing how to plant bareroot trees can ensure that these trees will flourish in your garden for years to come.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.