Caring For Your Bare Root Trees


During the winter months, many of our trees become available as bare root. Bare-root trees come without foliage or soil. Rest assured, they are alive and well, just dormant. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.


When is it a good time to plant a tree?

Winter is a good time to plant your tree – as long as the ground is not frozen. Plants should be transplanted within 48 hours of receiving them. (If the ground is frozen, you can plant the tree in a 5-gallon pot until you can transfer in the early spring.) Before planting, keep roots moist and protected from direct sunlight to ensure best results. You can soak the roots in water for at least 30 minutes, and no more than 24 hours.


How do I plant a bare-root tree?

Dig a hole twice as wide and deep as needed. Create a soil mixture that is 75% made up of the soil you dug out for your tree and 25% compost or planting mix. Now take the mixture of the two soils and fill your hole up halfway. Add water until it is three-quarters full. Place the tree in the hole and fill it with the soil/compost mixture. Then add more water to prevent air pockets. The graft, which is located between the root and stem, should be at least one inch above the soil line.


When should I fertilize?

Do not fertilize until the tree begins to leaf out in the spring. Be careful not to add too much fertilizer because it can burn the tree. Slow-release fertilizer is best for the first year.


How far apart should I space my plants?

As a general rule, fruit trees should be planted 15-20 feet apart, blackberries should be 4-6 feet apart, and raspberry plants 2-3 feet apart.


How often should I water?

The first two weeks after planting will be the most crucial to survival, so keep your trees properly irrigated. After planting, do not overwater. Test the soil with your finger 4 to 5 inches beneath the surface to see if it is dry. Too much water can prevent root growth and drown the tree. Not enough water will cause dehydration.