Bare Root Planting Technique


Bare root plants aren't sold in pots like other nursery plants. They are often wrapped in plastic or burlap with the roots cushioned by moist peat moss or sawdust. The plants often appear dead because they are packaged in their dormant state with little to no foliage present on the stems. Once planted in the garden, they begin to leaf out and grow. Trees, shrubs and smaller plants such as strawberries are often sold as bare root plants either through seed catalogs or direct from the nursery.

Step 1

Dig a planting hole to the same depth as the plant's roots and three times as wide. Mix any fertilizers or soil amendments recommended for the particular plant variety with the soil in the bottom of the hole.

Step 2

Build up a mound of soil on the bottom of the hole in the center. Make the mound no higher than one-third the depth of the hole.

Step 3

Fill a bucket or tub with lukewarm water. Soak the roots of the bare root plants in the water for two hours before planting.

Step 4

Trim away any broken roots from the outside of the root ball with sharp shears. Loosen the root ball gently with your fingers.

Step 5

Set the plant inside the hole, spreading the roots around the mound of soil. Add or remove soil beneath the plant so the crown of the plant, where the stems emerge from the roots, sits right at or just above soil level. Adjust grafted plants so the graft scar sits 4 inches above the soil.

Step 6

Fill in around the roots with the soil. Water deeply, thoroughly moistening the planting area. Add additional soil if watering causes the soil level to settle, then water a second time.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Soil amendments
  • Bucket
  • Shears


  • University of California Extension: Planting Bare Root Plants
  • University of Nebraska Extension: Care of Bareroot Plants
Keywords: bare root planting, growing dormant plants, bare root plants

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.