Bare root apple trees are dug up while dormant during the winter season. The tree is kept without soil around the roots while in storage. Bare root apple trees are cheaper and often easier to handle due to weight and size than container apple trees. Once a bare root apple is put into the soil again and watered it comes out of its dormancy phase, according to Penn State University, and begins the growing process once again.
Inspect the apple tree on delivery for signs of mold, sogginess along the roots, bad smells and damage. Feel the weight of the roots. If the roots are dried out or feel light, the tree is dead.
Select a site in the yard where the light, moisture, soil pH and wind exposure are ideal for your apple tree variety, according to North Dakota State University. Ask your nursery for your apple tree varieties specifics.
Trim any dead or dying roots from the plant and place the roots of the apple tree into water for several hours. Look for mushy roots or those that are brittle and dry to determine which roots are dead.
Dig a hole for the apple tree while the roots are soaking that is three to five times the width of the root ball and the same depth the tree was planted at the nursery. You can find this level by finding where the roots of the plant start.
Spread the roots of the apple tree out in the hole and cover it with soil. Use your hands to gently fill in the holes around the roots with soil.
Water the apple tree thoroughly so that the soil is moist to the depth of the roots. Water whenever the soil is drying. Plunge a spade into the soil and check where the moisture stops on the blade to determine how deep the water goes.
Apply fertilizer four weeks after the tree is planted. Apply 1 lb. of 10-10-10 fertilizer in the first year, then increasing by 1 lb. each year. You will use 2 lbs. in the second year, 3 lbs. in the third year and so on until you reach 6 lbs. for a mature tree, continuing with 6 lbs. for the rest of the tree's life, according to North Carolina University Extension.