How to Plant a Bare Root Fruit Tree


Bare root fruit trees are dormant fruit trees that are dug up and stored in cold storage without soil around the roots. Bare root plants weigh less, which is a benefit for shipping. Once planted in the ground, bare root fruit trees will start to grow when watered. Plant bare root fruit trees right away in the winter or early spring, before the tree begins to put on new growth.

Step 1

Soak your bare root fruit tree in a large tub of water for one to two hours. This will help the tree through the shock of transplanting and keep the root moist.

Step 2

Dig a hole with a shovel that is 3 to 4 feet wide and as deep as the rootball. Scrape the sides of the planting hole with the edge of the shovel to loosen the soil. Soil compaction around the edge of the planting hole will trap the roots in the hole preventing growth and proper fruiting of your tree.

Step 3

Place a 4-inch mound of soil in the bottom of the hole. Spread the roots out evenly around the soil mound.

Step 4

Fill the hole halfway with soil that you have gently worked in around the roots. Straighten up the fruit tree so it is standing upright with a minimum of training later.

Step 5

Fill the hole with water and wait five to 10 minutes while it is draining away. Fill the hole the rest of the way with soil. Firm the soil around the base of the fruit tree with your feet.

Step 6

Water the area around the fruit tree to finish settling the soil. Spread a 3 to 4 inch layer of mulch around the fruit tree to help preserve moisture in the soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Bare root fruit trees should have no mold, mildew or funny smell. Inspect your fruit trees for damage after receiving a shipment. They should feel heavy. If they feel light, then they have dried out, which may cause the fruit tree to die. Healthy fruit trees will sprout the same spring that they are planted.

Things You'll Need

  • Large tub
  • Water
  • Bare root fruit tree
  • Shovel
  • Mulch


  • PennState: Handling and Planting "Bare Root" Plants
  • Texas Cooperative Extension: Bare Root Fruit Trees
  • University of California---Fruit Trees: Planting and Care of Young Trees
Keywords: fruit trees, bare root fruit trees, planting bare root

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.