How to Plant a Bare-Root Tree - With Video

Bare-root trees experience less shock after planting. Read our directions and watch Katie's simple video demonstration of how to plant a bare-root tree.

By definition, bare-root trees are not grown in a pot and will not have any soil around their roots – hence the name "bare root". Our bare-root trees are shipped dormant, which helps them to transplant well and experience less transpiration (water loss) immediately after planting. The best thing you can do for a new tree is to avoid shock as much as possible, so don't wait until it's too late in the season to plant. The best time to plant a bare-root tree, or any other bare-root plant, is in the fall or early spring.

We always stress the importance of a good foundation. Choose your planting site wisely when planting fruit trees and other types of trees, so you can avoid issues like water-saturated planting sites.

Remember that, above all, the planting site should benefit the tree.

For more detailed information on choosing your location to plant, watch Gary's video Fruit Trees: Choosing Where to Plant in 5 Easy Steps.

When planting bare-root trees...

You will need:

  • A bare-root tree
  • Any soil amendments, like these Soil Additives, that you plan to use

Steps to planting a bare-root tree:

  • Allow your tree's roots to soak in water an hour or two before planting. Do not soak the roots for more than 24 hours.
  • A planting hole that is large enough to accommodate your tree's current root system with some extra room to grow. Learn how to Dig a perfect planting hole.
  • Spread out the dormant tree's roots to encourage outward growth.
  • Keep the tree vertical in the planting hole (perpendicular to the ground) so that it grows straight.
    • Use Tree Stakes to encourage straight growth, especially with dwarfing rootstocks and windy sites.
  • Keep the graft union (noticeable "bump" in the lower trunk) 2-3 inches above the ground.
  • Refill the hole with native soil (what was removed at digging time), and any other soil amendments.
  • Gently tamp out any air pockets from the soil once the planting hole is filled.
  • Thoroughly water your newly planted tree.

Note: If planting on a slight incline, like that of a hillside or other slope, be sure to pull the remaining soil around to the lower side of the tree to form a berm. Typically, a berm is used when planting on a hill or an incline because it works like a levy to retain water. Instead of the water running off and down the hill, the berm will act as a retainer and the water will soak down to the roots of the your tree.

If you can't plant due to the weather (or other concerns) when your new bare-root trees arrive, there are ways to safely delay planting.

You might enjoy seeing the future stages of apple tree growth, if you're planting bare-root apple trees this season, which will give you an idea of what to expect down the road after planting!

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