How to Grow Bare-Root Apple Trees


Bare-root apple trees have no soil around their roots. They are sold during their dormant stage, which usually is March, April and the first part of May. The benefit of purchasing bare-root apple trees is that they are generally less expensive than potted or burlapped apple trees. They also are easier to transport and plant. After the tree is planted, care for it as you would other apple trees.

Step 1

Submerge the roots of the apple trees in buckets of water. Let them soak for 12 to 24 hours.

Step 2

Find a planting site that receives full sun.

Step 3

Dig holes that are twice as wide and equally as deep as the roots. Space the apple trees 50 feet or less apart so they can pollinate each other.

Step 4

Remove a tree from the bucket of water. Place it into the hole. Fill the hole with potting soil and water to settle the soil. Add more potting soil after the water settles to bring the soil up to ground level. Repeat the process for each apple tree.

Step 5

Drive two garden stakes into the ground about 8 inches from the tree and on opposite sides of the tree, using a rubber mallet. Run twine firmly around the tree, and secure the twine firmly to the stakes. Repeat the process for each tree. Remove the stakes the next spring.

Step 6

Soak the planting site with water and repeat weekly.

Step 7

Cut and remove the tips of branches on each tree. Cut the branches down by half their size. Do not cut the central upward branch of each tree.

Step 8

Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of each bare-root apple tree to hold in moisture during the summer months.

Step 9

Mulch with clean straw around the base of each tree again in late fall to help insulate the roots from the cold. No mulch is needed in winter after the first growing season.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not fertilize your bare-root apple trees during their first growing season as it can burn the roots.

Things You'll Need

  • Buckets
  • Shovel
  • Potting soil
  • Garden stakes
  • Twine
  • Pruning scissors
  • Mulch
  • Straw


  • Ohio State University: Growing Apples in the Home Orchard

Who Can Help

  • Santa Barbra Gardens: Bare-Root Fruit Trees
Keywords: plant bareroot trees, bareroot apple trees, grow bareroot apples

About this Author

Leigh Walker has been working as a writer since 1995. She serves as a ghostwriter for many online clients creating website content, e-books and newsletters. She works as a title flagger and writer for Demand Studios, primarily writing home and garden pieces for and Walker pursued an English major/psychology minor at Pellissippi State.