How to Heel in Bare Root Trees
If you don't have an ideal place to store the plants in their packages or if you must wait for longer than 7 days to plant, then it is a good idea to heel your plants in. Start by digging a V-shaped trench that is wide and deep enough to hold the plants' roots.
Remove the plants from their packaging and lay them at an angle in the trench so that the roots are at the bottom and the trunk or base of the plant is resting up the side of the trench. Leave about 1 foot of space between each plant.
Backfill the trench with soil to cover up the roots DO NOT cover the stem, trunk or crown of the plants with soil, as this can cause rotting, then water the plants in. You can leave the plants heeled in for several months, but it's best to plant them in their permanent location within a few weeks because you don't want them to break dormancy, begin growing new leaves, prior to planting.
Ready to Plant
When you are ready to plant, gently remove the soil from the trench. We recommend using your hands or a trowel to avoid jabbing the roots with a shovel. Then, fill a bucket/trough/bin etc. with water and place the plant's roots in the bucket. Let them soak for 24 hours. After you have hydrated the roots, you can go ahead and plant the bare root plant in their permanent home. Start at Step 3 on When You Receive Your Trees for a complete planting guide.