The Bareroot Bonus

By oakridge
April 20th 2018

Hopefully we’ve seen the last of winter and it’s finally time to plant, we have most of our bare root trees and shrubs in, and the weather is starting to cooperate so now is the time to take advantage of early season savings with bare root trees.

Some of the more seasoned gardeners may remember how nursery stock used to be sold…before containerization. It was sold bare root out of dimly lit root cellars and barns. Seedlings, rooted cuttings and tree whips are planted and grown for one to four years depending on variety and in order to produce the sizes needed. Anything from a 2” diameter (15’ tree) transplanted tree to a one year hardwood liner are produced for bare root production.

Not all plants come bare root. Some shrubs do and most deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves—go dormant). You will not find evergreens in bare root. These plants are dug when the plant becomes dormant in the fall and normally this takes place from approximately October 1st to November 10th in our area. The bare root plants are then stored in climate controlled storage buildings over the winter and then shipped out to retail nurseries in the spring.

Trees and shrubs have been sold bare root for many years with many advantages to consumers. The most important consumer benefit is increased cost savings over potted plants. Lighter weight bare root requires less freight and shipping expenses-the savings being passed on to consumers in the form of lower priced trees and shrubs. Buying trees and shrubs bare root helps the environment with no plastic pots and less pollution and fuel consumption in shipping. Also, consumers can make their early spring purchases in larger quantities with space-saving bare root plants. On that note, this is the time to plant a hedge…the plants are smaller and less expensive than potted.

Bare root nursery stock can be purchased and planted early in the season-as soon as frost has left the ground. The bare root season is short, it is usually available from the end of March to the middle of May. Nursery stock is kept cool and dormant in root cellars until they start to break bud, or come out of dormancy. Once they begin to leaf out, they must be potted in containers and set outside. Potting the plants, of course, adds to the cost of the plant. Subsequently, early spring is the only time to take advantage of the lower, bare root pricing.

For a step-by-step guide on how to plant bareroot, check out our How To Plant a Tree Oakridge Onsite video!

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