How to Grow Bare Root Apple Trees


Bare root tree stock is a term to define young trees that have been harvested during the dormant stage and are readied for sale without soil around the root structure. The advantages of purchasing bare root is that the trees are easier to transport and cost less than freshly dug or potted trees. Care must be taken to prevent the roots from drying out or rotting as they are susceptible to damage while in the bare root stage.

Step 1

Keep the roots moist until ready for transplanting to prevent the tree from dying. Soak the roots for 12 to 24 hours prior to planting into the ground as this will replenish moisture lost during transportation and storage.

Step 2

Plant the bare root apple tree in a location that offers a fertile soil and drainage. Apple trees should be planted 50 feet or less apart from each other in order to pollinate each other. Map out the planting location of each tree and place a stake in the ground as a marker.

Step 3

Prepare the soil by digging deep enough to loosen compacted areas. Add composted manure or organic compost and work into the ground.

Step 4

Remove twisted or broken roots before setting the tree into the ground. Do not plant the tree if it shows signs of root rot or wart growth as the tree is diseased it will not produce properly.

Step 5

Dig a hole that is a minimum of 3 feet in circumference. Try to keep the topsoil and subsoil separate when removing it. Loosen the soil on the bottom and sides of the hole.

Step 6

Mix several handfuls of bone meal with the topsoil and place it at the bottom of the hole. Create a mound in the hole to set the bare roots on so they spread out. Place the tree on top of the mound and gently add soil back into the hole.

Step 7

Eliminate air pockets by filling half the hole with soil and pressing in place. Fill the hole with water and allow it to soak into the ground. Gently wiggle the tree and poke at the soil to set it in place. Fill the remaining hole with soil and pack in place by stomping it lightly with your foot.

Step 8

Water the tree weekly with a minimum of one inch of water. Use the drip method for best results. Drill a hole at the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket and place the bucket 8 to 12 inches from the tree. Fill with water and allow the water to slowly drip into the ground.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not fertilize apple trees at planting with a chemical fertilizer.

Things You'll Need

  • Bare root apple tree
  • Stakes
  • Shovel
  • Tiller
  • Compost
  • Hand pruner
  • Water
  • 5-Gallon bucket
  • Drill


  • Care and Planting of Bare Root Fruit Trees
  • Planting Bare Root Trees
Keywords: bare root apple trees, planting bare root, bare root care

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.