Answer

Planting Bare Root Perennials

Question

Allen, I've been told that I can save money by purchasing plants bare root, but I just don't know what to expect. Can you give me the low down on gardening with bare root perennials?

Answer

Planting perennials and roses bare root can be daunting, especially when the plants arrive looking like a mass of brown roots and sticks. It is sometimes hard to know which end is up! But there are two reasons bare root is a good option - price and resilience.

Bare root plants are dug from the field while they are still dormant and shipped without any soil around the roots. They will arrive packaged in a plastic bag with a packing material that is slightly moist. This packing material can be sphagnum moss, wood shavings or even paper. This minimal packaging makes them easier to ship, which translates into a less expensive plant for you. And if you follow the design principle of abundance that I do - always plant in multiples of 3 - this is important.

Bare root plants are also quick to establish themselves in the garden. You don't have to worry about transplant shock associated with moving a plant from a container to a flowerbed. And even though they may not look like much, the plants you receive are likely to be larger than a comparable container grown plant.

Although you may order your plants in early spring, the company will hold your order until the appropriate planting time in your area. In northern regions this could be as late as early May. As soon as you receive your plants, take them out of the boxes and check that your order is correct and the plants are in good shape. The roots should be healthy and firm. A little bit of mold is okay, but they shouldn't be either dried up or too mushy.

Weather permitting, bare root plants should be planted immediately after arrival. Soak them for up to 5 hours to get them re-hydrated.

If you haven't already, pick a site for planting. Check the plant label and choose a location in your garden that matches the cultural requirements listed there.

For best results loosen the soil in the designated area to about 10 to 12 inches. Incorporate compost into the soil to aid in drainage and add nutrients. I also have more useful information on soil amendments.

Dig a hole that is 1.5 times as deep and wide as the plant's roots. Build a firm mound of soil in the middle of the hole. Spread the roots over the mound so that the crown sits at or just below the soil line. Gently back fill the hole. If you have top growth, pull the soil up around it just as you would a container grown plant otherwise cover the entire thing with a 1/2 inch of soil. Tamp the soil down and water well. Wait until growth begins to emerge to apply a layer of mulch. Keep the plant consistently moist through the growing season.

Of course, sometimes delays can't be avoided. You can store the plants inside their original packaging for a day or two in a cool, dark place. Just don't let them freeze.

A longer-term alternative is to heel the plants in. Dig a trench in the garden, remove the plants from their packaging and lay them on their sides with their roots in the trench. Cover the roots with soil and water well until conditions are right to plant them in their permanent location.

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Comments

herbs

by catzma1 on June 20, 2014 06:13
How do you pick herbs to downsize bush and harvest from a herb bush?











Fungus gnats

by Norma5Star on May 8, 2014 12:43
Wonderful! I am happy to finally have an answer to those tiny, annoying pests! Thank you P. Allen for saving Mom\'s house plants.

poultry problems

by dotti on September 15, 2013 02:27
I want to raise chickens and ducks but I don\'t have a coop. I live on 40 acre farm in ND. I am deciding between 6+ breeds of ducks and chickens but cant decide they\'re all pretty good egg layers and docile. I want pure breeds and have to have to have them all. What should I do? Where should I order them? Please help.

Virginia Creeper

by katherinelizabeth on August 11, 2013 12:41
Just another thought... the VC and the BK in my previous post are also nearly identical.

Targeting Just the Weed

by katherinelizabeth on August 11, 2013 12:39
If you want to use the synthetic weed killer close to good plants, try making a bottomless box out of an old cardboard one. Mark the outside of the box as such before you start spraying. Then place the box over the offending plant and spray... just it. Trick is to match the size of the box to the size of the weed you want to kill. But boxes are easy to come by, so you can make more than one. Had to do this to target some Bush Killer that came too close in my yard, and it did protect. Getting rid of the BK, however... well... :(

Dogwood tree

by gardenman18 on July 20, 2013 04:06
I want to learn how to plant a dogwood tree right way.

Clay Ground

by jackson.1943@yahoo.com on February 3, 2013 09:18
Will Roses do good in very bad clay ground?

Theme music

by betsi.vesser on October 13, 2012 09:15
I love this piece of music! It is so calming and just right for all those who love gardens. It actually describes my 94 year old mom who still likes to get out and work around in her garden! Thank you for giving us this lovely piece (peace) of music on each show.

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