Bare-root plants must be kept moist
1. Keep bare-root plants damp
Photo/Illustration: Daryl Beyers
Most people first encounter bare-root plants through mail-order catalogs. Harvested from the field with no soil attached to the roots, bare-root plants are lightweight but highly perishable and should be purchased and planted prior to bud break in the spring. While they require some additional tender loving care, the advantage of bare-root plants is that they allow complete inspection of the root system prior to planting.
1. Keep bare-root plants damp after their arrival. Do not allow their roots to dry out before you plant them. Though dormant, they are still living and require water to survive. Store or transport them out of direct sunlight in a pot or plastic bag packed with moist straw or shredded newspaper. Check the packing material frequently: If it’s moist, then so are the roots. If it’s dry, the roots are also dry, and you should set them in a bucket of water for several hours before planting to rehydrate them.
2. Inspect and prune the roots prior to planting. Remove all damaged or in-turned roots by making clean cuts with sharp pruning shears. Torn roots heal more slowly than a clean cut and thus increase the likelihood of disease. Roots that grow toward the center of the plant can restrict root and trunk growth over time.