Bare Root Plants

Tools & Supplies Needed

You will need the following:

  • Two to three, 4-foot stakes if planting a tree, along with rope or other flexible tie material
  • Hose/water source
  • Pruning shears
  • Spade for digging hole and backfilling

Planting Steps

When you are ready to plant you must:

  1. Keep roots of bare root trees and shrubs moist and protected at all times prior to planting. Prepare planting hole for each plant before removing it from it's protected, moist site.
  2. Using a spade or other means of digging, prepare a hole that is large enough to spread the roots without crowding. Rough the sides of the hole to be sure they are not glazed from digging, which would form a barrier for water and roots.
  3. Inspect the roots of the plant. Prune away any broken or damaged roots.
  4. Place the roots in the hole at a level so that the soil surface will be at the same level where the plant was previously growing, as indicated by the slightly darker area of the trunk. Trees should be planted so that the graft or trunk flare is 1" above the final soil surface. It often helps to form a mound or "cone" of soil on the bottom of the hole and spread the roots over the mound.
  5. Backfill the soil into the hole a few inches at a time, firming the soil after each addition. While backfilling, be sure the plant remains vertical and be careful not to damage roots. Use water to settle the soil around the roots while backfilling.
  6. After backfilling is complete, form a ridge of soil around the edge of the hole to puddle and hold water around the plant.
  7. Place 2 or 3 4-foot stakes around each tree approximately 10" from the trunk. Using a soft rope or tape made especially for tying trees, tie a piece of rope around the trunk to each stake. Be sure the rope being used will not injure the bark. Threading the rope through a short section of old garden hose can protect the tree bark. Stakes can be removed after the first growing season. It is not usually necessary to stake shrubs.
  8. Thoroughly water the plant. Keep well watered until established. Mulching with wood chips or shredded bark helps retain moisture. Keep mulch 1-2 inches away from the plant's trunk to prevent damage from moisture. Do not over water. Allow the soil surface to dry to a depth of 1-2" between waterings.
  9. In areas with cold winters, protect young, smooth-barked trees from sunscald by wrapping the trunks. This practice also protects young trees from rodent and rabbit damage.
Detailed diagram demonstrating how to properly plant a bareroot tree