How to Plant Bare-Root Plants


Nurseries sell bare-root plants during their dormancy period. Roots appear brown and dead but are quite vital. A common mistake is to trim or cut portions of the bare-root system prior to planting. Immediate planting is necessary to ensure the plant's survival, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. Properly situating new plants increases growing success rates. Bare-root plants should exhibit new growth one to several months after planting.

Step 1

Remove the bare-root plant from the packing material. Discard of packing material properly.

Step 2

Fill a 10-gallon or larger bucket 3/4 full of warm tap water. Set the bare-root plant in the bucket. The Arbor Day Foundation recommends soaking the plant a minimum of three to six hours.

Step 3

Measure the length of the bare-root system. Dig a hole twice as deep as the root system length.

Step 4

Measure the width of the bare-root system. Widen the hole to twice the diameter of the width of the bare-root system.

Step 5

Fill the hole with 2 inches of dirt. Stand the bare-root plant in the hole. Make adjustments in plant position to enable planting at the same depth as in the nursery container, advises the Arbor Day Foundation.

Step 6

Continue filling in and packing dirt around the bare-root and lower portion of the plant.

Step 7

Water the bare-root plant until the ground is saturated. Wait 15 minutes for the water to absorb into the ground surface.

Step 8

Dig a 2-inch deep trench around the newly situated plant. Fill the trench with water.

Step 9

Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around the base of the newly situated plant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid touching the plant stem or trunk with any mulch.

Things You'll Need

  • Bare-root plant
  • 10-gallon or larger bucket
  • Water
  • Measuring tape
  • Shovel
  • Gardening hoe
  • Organic mulch


  • Arbor Day Foundation: How to Plant a Bare-Root Tree
Keywords: bare-root plants, planting bare-root, perrenial plant care

About this Author

Lisha Smith writes for several blogs and has freelanced for six years. She has a Bachelor of Arts from UNC-Greensboro in psychology. Smith has self-published several books. Her areas of experience include gardening, cooking, home improvement, pets and mental health.