Bare-root plants have no soil surrounding their roots. Nurseries and online plant retailers usually sell and ship their plants this way to the consumer. When plants are in the bare-root stage, they are dormant. Some plants, if purchased and shipped with blooms and/or foliage, can be harmed by the changing environment and temperatures. When plants are shipped in the dormant stage, they are simply planted in their new location upon receiving, and begin to bud, flower and adapt in their new location. Taking proper care of a bare-root plant will help it thrive.
Remove the bare-root plant from its original packaging, to expose the bare roots. Rinse the roots with clean water to remove any debris. Take notice of the "crown" of the bare-root plant. The crown can be identified by a green or red swollen spot on the stem close to the roots. When the bare-root plant is planted, the soil should come up to the crown of the plant, and not higher.
Trim the roots, using sharp pruning shears. Trimming the roots will expose the innermost parts of root, allowing it to easily absorb water, and begin to take root in the new planting location. Use of sharp pruning shears is a must. Dull pruning shears will tear and rip the roots of the plant, causing damage.
Place the plant back into its original packaging, and fill around the roots with peat moss. The peat moss will be easy for the roots to work into, and will retain moisture while the roots are beginning their new growth.
Add water into the packaging slowly, until the peat moss is thoroughly moist, not soaked. The packaging material is usually plastic, and will retain moisture for long periods. If too much water is added, the chance of disease, fungal growth and root rot increase. If you add too much water by mistake, simple poke a few holes in the side of the packaging close to the bottom to allow for drainage. Leave the plants in this condition until weather permits planting outdoors.
Remove the packaging material and plant in the proper location outdoors, depending upon the plant's specific growing requirements.