The winter season is blessed with the dormancy of plants. During this cold time, deciduous species of many plants can be dug from the fields, transported and planted in your garden at much reduced cost, and often wider selection of varieties (especially in fruit trees and roses). Here are a few tips on planting if you have purchased bare root plants for the garden. First keep the plant roots moist and the plant cool and shaded. If it has arrived mail order, you may also wish to soak the roots in water overnight to help rehydrate the plant before planting. Dig your planting hole, wider is better than too deep. You goal is to dig a holw which comfortably accomodates the roots when they are spread out in the hole. Next you will want to add some soil amendment to the soil which has been dug out and mix thoroughly… this will be the backfill soil used to fill your hole and cover the roots. If the plant seems tall or floppy, you may wish to stake it, and installing a stake before you plant is good since you will not damage roots if this step is done prior to planting. Now you can make a cone of soil in the center of your hole with that amended mix. place the bare root plant on top of this soil and spread the roots all around the slope of that cone of soil. You can water to settle the soil with a bucket/slow running hose at this time to help settle the soil and get rid of air pockets in the soil with this technique. facing the plant can also be done now, with grafted/budded plants, it is recommended to face the scar of the understock north so that the union is facing south. (In simple terms… the bulge of the stem should face south so that the cut off lower stem will be shaded) If you do not do this, that sensitive area can sunburn and the bark will be damaged, which causes compromised future growth. Now continue to backfill the soil to perhaps half full for the hole and then water again to settle that new layer of soil. Wait for the water to drain away at each watering then continue to add more soil until the hole is filled and is at grade level of the surrounding soil. I do not recommend a basin for watering, it is better to use a slow trickling hose to water or drip irrigation. The idea is to get water regularly to the new growing roots, so water is needed to go deeply into the soil, not far outside the planting hole area. You can mulch lightly if you wish to conserve moisture during summer dry and hot spells.

Pruning of the root tips is necessary if they have a jagged cut end before you plant, and any top growth which has been damaged should also be cleanly pruned back to a well placed side bud, branch after planting.

Fruit trees and roses are the main candidates which are offered bare root, but a number of plants can be purchased this way. Flowering shrubs, trees, even perennials and vegetables can all be bought during the winter dormant period of the bare root season.

After care of the newly planted plant is elatively easy. You do not want the plant to suffer from not enough water, so water regularly, but at the same time, since it is a young plant, those watering needs will be far less than an older established plant. With many species, you may have to wait several years for the quality/characterisitcs to become apparent in the plant, tree, but that wait is offset by the lower cost and ease of planting from doing it bare root.

Another point to consider when planting by this method is that the entire root zone is one homogenious mixture of native soil to the site, not a noncompatible nursery mix which has an abrupt transition from root ball to native soil on site.