How to Preserve Shrubs Until Planted


When transplanting shrubs, the best success is had when shrubs are planted as soon as they arrive. Shrubs that have been container grown or balled and covered with burlap will keep well until ready to plant because the soil is present with the roots. These shrubs just need to be watered regularly until ready to plant. Bare root plants require more careful care if they must wait before planting. If the roots dry out, the shrub may go into shock and transplanting is less likely to be successful.

Short Term Storage

Step 1

Cover shrubs with a canvas or tarp while transporting them in an exposed truck. Protect the foliage and roots from wind damage during transport.

Step 2

Store the shrubs in a well-shaded location where they will be protected from sun, wind, and heat or cold.

Step 3

Cover the root ball with damp burlap, sawdust, moss or mulch until planting. Water daily to maintain the moisture in the root ball and mulch. Do not allow the roots to dry out, but don't soak them.

For Longer Storage

Step 1

Dig a trench deep enough to accommodate the roots. Slope one side of the trench.

Step 2

Place the shrubs in the trench so that they lean against the sloping side of the trench.

Step 3

Spread the roots in the trench and cover them with organic mulch, such as sand, sawdust, moss or a loose layer of soil.

Step 4

Water the mulch as needed to keep it moist, but not wet. Do not allow the roots to dry out.

Step 5

Plant the shrubs as soon as possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Mulch materials
  • Water


  • North Dakota State University Extension Service: Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
  • Purdue University Extension: Planting & Transplanting Landscape Trees and Shrubs
  • Kentucky College of Agriculture: Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: preserve shrubs until planted, transplanting shrubs, storing bare root shrubs

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.