Bare-root fruit and trees are ready to plant in your garden
January 21, 2006
If you have a new home or are refurbishing your landscape, this is your season. Nurseries, garden centers and mail-order companies are featuring bare-root fruit and ornamental trees, flowering shrubs, roses, grapes and cane fruits.
What does bare-root mean? The plants will not be in containers - they are not planted - their roots are exposed, hence bare-root; plants come from the grower to the nursery ready to plant in your garden. Granted, the weather this time of year is not always conducive to getting out in the garden and planting; this might be better described as the season of the determined gardener.
So why bother? Simply put, purchasing bare-root will save you money - at the end of this very brief season, plants not sold are potted up and the cost of the plant will double or triple.
Selection is another reason to shop bare-root; most nurseries only get roses and fruit trees in once a year. If you are looking for a particular variety, you are most likely to find it early in the season.
The third reason to shop bare-root is planting your plants now, while not the best season for the gardener, is a great season for the plants; they usually establish more quickly and grow better initially than containerized plants.
When purchasing bare-root, select plants with strong stems and fresh looking, well-formed roots. Avoid plants with slimy roots or plants with withered or dry roots. Also, don't purchase bare-root plants that have already begun to leaf out.
Planting bare-root takes some planning. You will want to have the area you plan to plant prepared since you will need to plant as soon as possible after purchase.
Before planting, check the roots for any that are damaged, cut back to healthy tissue and then soak the roots for a minimum of four hours to overnight. This is especially important if you have ordered your plants mail order. Should your garden not be ready, you can temporarily pot-up your bare-root purchases. Ask the nursery for some plastic 5-gallon pots to create a temporary home. Pot-up your plants in a mix of garden soil and planting mix, water well and place the pots in a shady location.
Another great find in nurseries and garden centers this time of year is “B and B” - balled and burlapped. These are woody plants and evergreens that could not survive bare-root transplant.
B and B's are dug from the growing grounds with a ball of soil around their roots and wrapped in burlap. B and B's are not as great a bargain as bare-root, but they are still less expensive than they will be once they are potted. Again, you will need to do some planning; B and B plants tend to be a bit delicate, and they need to be supported during transportation.
You should have the planting site prepared and some compost to add to the soil in the hole
Whether you are looking for a new rose for your rose garden or you are landscaping your entire backyard, bare-root is well worth the extra effort. Put on your slicker and boots and enjoy a winter gardening experience. With the money you save, you can buy a latte to help you keep warm while you plant.