How to Preserve Shrubs Until They Are Planted


Planting as soon as possible after purchase offers the best way to keep shrub roots moist and healthy. With either bare-root or balled shrubs specimens, keeping the roots of these shrubs moist protects their health and well-being. Several options exist for preserving shrubs until they are planted.

Step 1

Place the bare-root or balled shrubs in a cool and shady location as soon as possible. Do not allow the shrubs to sit in direct sunlight where they will dry out.

Step 2

Wrap the shrubs in burlap if you will be planting them within hours. Completely cover the shrubs with several layers of burlap and secure the burlap with twine. Saturate the burlap generously with water.

Step 3

Cover the shrub roots if you cannot plant them the same day. Choose a location out of direct sunlight and wind and make a loose, 2-foot-deep pile of peat moss, wet sawdust or compost on the ground. Insert the roots of the shrub into the center of the material and allow the shrub to lie at an angle on the top of the material. Keep the peat moss, sawdust or compost evenly moist until you are ready to plant the shrub. Preserve the shrubs like this for up to one week.

Step 4

Fill a bucket with tepid water and soak the roots for 30 minutes before you plant the shrub. Do not soak the shrub for any longer than this before planting.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never allow a shrub to sit in water indefinitely in an attempt to keep the roots moist before planting.

Things You'll Need

  • Bare root or balled shrubs
  • Burlap
  • Twine
  • Shovel
  • Peat moss, sawdust or compost
  • Large bucket


  • Purdue University Extension: Planting and Transplanting Landscape Trees and Shrubs
  • Weekend Gardener magazine:Bare-Root Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: shrub roots moist, preserve shrubs, bare root or balled

About this Author

Kathryn Hatter is a 42-year-old veteran homeschool educator and regular contributor to Natural News. She is an accomplished gardener, seamstress, quilter, painter, cook, decorator, digital graphics creator and she enjoys technical and computer gadgets. She began writing for Internet publications in 2007. She is interested in natural health and hopes to continue her formal education in the health field (nursing) when family commitments will allow.