The root, crown and perhaps a small portion of the stem of a dormant two- to three-year-old plant can be packaged for shipment. Known as a bareroot plant, the root is placed in a sealable plastic bag with moist sphagnum or sawdust to keep the root hydrated in transit. Gardeners can obtain bareroot plants when placing a mail order for flowers like coneflowers, or when picking up plants like roses at the local nursery. If the bareroot plant cannot be planted immediately, keep root hydrated and in a cool location.
Preparing the Soil
Turn the soil at the location for the bareroot. The location should drain well and match the sun requirements of the plant. Use the shovel to turn the soil about 12 inches down or as deep as the bareroot is tall, whichever is greater. The width of the hole should be about 12 inches for perennial flowers, 24 inches for roses, and 36 inches for trees. If planting multiple bareroot plants, prepare all the holes or strip of soil before planting.
Force the shovel straight down in several locations of the turned soil to break-up the clump and loosen the soil. Remove weeds, grass or stones from the turned soil.
Mix in about 2 inches of organic matter, like compost or leaf mold, if desired. Organic matter can be particularly helpful for drainage in soils with high clay content.
Planting the Bareroot
Remove the bareroot from the delivery bag and dip the bareroot in a bucket of water to wet the roots. If you are planting multiple bareroots, dip several in water and place in an empty bucket to protect the roots from wind or sun dry-out.
Use your fingers or a hand trowel to create an opening in the turned soil deep and wide enough to accommodate the bareroot of perennial flowers, which have smaller roots. Make the hole larger for long bareroots, like those of roses, so you can create a cone of soil in the bottom of the hole upon which the roots will rest.
Place the bareroot in the soil with the crown, where the root meets the stem, just above ground level. For long roots, spread the root over the cone of soil in the bottom of the hole. Gently firm the soil around the bareroot plant using your hands or foot.
Water well around the bareroot, adding more soil if necessary to level the surface. Water lightly every three to four days until new growth is detected, and then water every seven to 10 days if there is no rainfall.
Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch, like pine bark or leaf mold, over the soil. Keep the mulch about 2 inches from the stem of the bareroot.