Bareroot Planting Guide

A Guide to Planting Bareroot

Bareroot plants and trees are just that – plants with little or no soil on the roots. They are not actively growing at this time (November to March). The roots are exposed rather than in soil. Plants that are bareroot should be planted ASAP. The roots should be kept moist at all times while exposed.

Bareroot plants and trees may be dormant, but they are still alive and should be treated carefully.

Receiving your Bareroot

After receiving your plants prepare them for planting as soon as possible. Carefully examine the material around the roots to see if there is still moisture in the packing material. If the roots seem to be dry, pour a cup or two of water into the packing material to freshen up the roots before planting. You can also mist the roots with a small amount of water just to freshen them while you are preparing to plant. Never leave the exposed roots of the plants in the sun, or hot place or freezing temperatures. Remember that excessive moisture may cause rotting to begin. Better yet, try to be ready to plant as soon as the plants arrive.

If it is not possible to plant immediately, then place the plants in a tub with good drainage holes, fill with compost that covers the roots to protect against the elements. They should be planted within a few days. Bare root plants can also be ‘healed’ into a hole in the ground until ready to plant.

When you are ready to plant, you can soak the plants in water just before placing in the planting hole.

Preparing the planting site

Organic material such as compost or peat moss can be incorporated into the native soil. The best fertiliser to add at this time is rootgrow or mycorrhizal fungi. It is not necessary to add fertiliser to the planting hole at this time (unless it is rootgrow).


If you are ready to plant then preparing not only the planting hole, but the plants are important. While preparing the planting hole, you may put the bareroot plants in a bucket with a small amount of water to moisten the roots before planting.

Dig the planting hole as deep as the root system. The roots of the plant should fit easily into the planting hole without bending. Make sure the roots are moist before placing in the planting hole.

Placement within the Planting Hole

Take the plants out of the bucket of water and position in the planting hole. Set the plant in the hole so that the roots will be buried and stems remain above the ground. Do not plant too deep. Backfill the hole and heal in gently to prevent air pockets. If the plants are large, water them when half the hole is filled. This will help settle the soil around the roots and prevent air pockets from forming around the root zone. Continue filling the hole until it is full and water again. Make a collar of dirt around the outer edge of the hole to hold water as growth begins or during the dry periods of its first growing season.

Water the planting area to settle the soil around the roots.

Rosa rugosa hedging
Rosa rugosa hedging

After new growth starts, fertilise the top of the ground in a circle at the outer edge of the hole or on top of any mulch you may have added. Use a tree or shrub fertiliser that is formulated with a slow release nitrogen or a 10-10 fertiliser. Always water after adding fertiliser.

Bareroot plants and trees should be cared for regularly during their first spring. Water well during periods of drought, prune any branches that have died, and keep them well mulched. If the plant is slow to come out in the spring, prune back to re-establish the proper root top balance. This will usually force the new growth quickly


Bare Root Plants


Trees that do not stand on their own may require staking. Secure the tree with a stake only until the root system is well established, typically until the autumn of the same year or certainly by the following spring. Support the tree with the use of two stakes, one on either side of the tree, plus tree tie (buckle tie) in place. Make sure that the tie is not too tight around the tree.

To download the full guide, please view our bareroot planting guide.  Our guide is essential after purchasing from our extensive list of bareroot products.  You can choose from our bareroot hedging plants or from our beautiful Bareroot trees.