Bare Root: To Try or Not to Try?

What's the deal with bare root trees? Perhaps you've heard about bare root trees but have no idea what they are, or perhaps you understand what they are but have no idea if they are right for you. If either of these are true, this blog post is for you!

First off, what does bare root mean? Bare root plants are dormant plants with exposed roots. These plants are grown in the field and then removed from the soil when dormant and stored in a cold room. They are stored without soil around the roots which is where they get the name "bare root."

Bare root plants are only available in the winter months when the plants go dormant and work best with certain plants and trees such as pecan and fruit trees. Bare root plants should also be planted during the winter months when they are completely dormant – this is usually about mid-December through early spring.

So how do you decide if bare root plants are right for you? Well here's a few things to think about:

The advantages: The most obvious allure of bare root plants is the price. Bare root trees are significantly cheaper to purchase. In addition to being cheaper, bare root trees actually have greater root mass than potted trees. On average, bare root trees offer more roots than container trees. Despite having more roots, bare root trees weigh substantially less than potted plants because they lack the soil and therefore are easier to maneuver. Bare root trees are also easier to plant. First, without soil around the roots, it is easy to identify and remove girdling roots that could affect plant growth and health. Additionally, it is easier to determine how deep to plant the trees because their root flare is visible which can easily be positioned and planted at the soil line. Bare root trees also establish themselves and adapt to new soil conditions more quickly than potted plants.

To think about: Despite the advantages of bare root trees, they take some extra attention and care. First, bare root trees need to be planted soon after arriving. If you don't plant them right away, the roots can dry out and the plant will die. If you can't plant right away, you must heel in your trees to keep the roots out of the sun and in a cool area. For best results, soak the roots at least 24 hours before planting. After the planted tree has set, make sure to prune the top of the tree to balance with the roots.

As you can see, bare root trees have their advantages but require a little extra attention when they first arrive since they can't sit around. Additionally, bare root trees can only be planted when dormant. So if you have the time to dedicate to it and you are able to plant in the winter months, bare root plants are worth giving a try. Some say they provide the best bang for your buck. We like to say they provide the most green for the least green. 

August 17, 2021