How To Store And Plant Bare Root Dormant Plants

How To Store And Plant Bare Root Dormant Plants

Bare root plants are plants that are sold without any soil around the roots. They are usually dug up when they are dormant, which means they are not actively growing. This is typically when they are dormant in the winter, then they are packaged and sold.

Bare root plants need to be planted within 1-2 weeks after they are purchased. It is important to store bare root plants appropriately until you are ready to plant, as they can be susceptible to root rot.

(Featured Image: Blueberry by Tiltti)

How To Store Bare Root Plants

Bare root plants can be stored in a cool, dark place before planting. Some good options include:

  • A garage or shed
  • A basement or cellar
  • An unheated room in your house
  • A shady spot outdoors

If you store your bare root plants in a cool, dark place, they will stay dormant and will not start to grow. This will give you time to plant them when the weather is right. Be sure to store in a dark location until you are ready to plant.

When storing bare root plants, it is important to keep the roots moist. You can do this by wrapping the roots in damp burlap or newspaper and placing them in a plastic bag. Be sure to open the bag every few days to let in some fresh air.

How To ‘Heel In’ Bare Root Plants

If you are not going to plant your bare root plants right away, you can heel them in. This means burying the roots in a trench in the ground. Be sure to keep the roots moist and water them regularly. 

This is a good option if you need more time to prepare your garden, or if you are waiting for better weather to plant. You can heel in your bare root plants for up to two weeks.

Dormant blueberries grown from bare root dormant berry plants.

How To Plant Bare Root Plants

  1. Prepare the planting site. Choose a spot in your garden that gets full sun or partial shade. The soil should be well-draining and rich in organic matter. If the soil is not well-draining, you can amend it with sand or gravel.
  2. Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and just as deep.
  3. If the roots are tangled, gently loosen them.
  4. Place the plant in the hole so that the crown (where the trunk meets the roots) is level with the soil surface.
  5. Backfill the hole with soil, being careful not to bury the crown.
  6. Water the plant well.
  7. Mulch around the plant to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  8. Water the plant regularly, especially during the first few weeks after planting.
  9. Fertilize the plant in the spring, following the directions on the fertilizer label.
  10. Be patient! It may take a up to a few weeks for your bare root plant to come out of dormancy. Buds will begin to appear once plant is out of dormancy.
Planting a bare root plant in a hole while it is dormant.

Planting Bare Roots by G. King

Advantages Of Starting With Bare Root Plants

  • They are less expensive than potted plants. Bare root plants are typically sold at a lower price than potted plants. This is because they are not as easy to ship and store as potted plants.
  • They are more versatile. Bare root plants can be planted in a wider variety of soils and climates than potted plants. This is because they are not root bound and can adjust to new conditions more easily.
  • They are more environmentally friendly. Bare root plants require less energy to produce than potted plants. This is because they are not grown in containers and do not require the use of potting soil.
  • They are more likely to survive. Bare root plants are more likely to survive than potted plants. This is because they are not stressed by being transplanted and are able to establish themselves more quickly in the ground.

If you are looking for a cost-effective, versatile, and environmentally friendly way to add plants to your garden, bare root plants are a great option.

Strawberry plants that started out as bare root plants.

Bare Root Strawberries