Bare Rooted Plants

When you go to the nursery or garden centre, the two most common ways you can buy plants is bare-root or potted.  Bare-root plants have no soil on their roots.  Potted or container plants are growing in moss peat in a pot.

About Bare Rooted Plants

These are Trees and plants which are dug up in the nursery, during the months of November to March and contain no soil on their roots.  They can be taken and planted during this dormant season November to March.  The roots of these plants must be kept moist, from the time they are dug up until planting.  It is critical that they don t dry out.

When you get bare-rooted plants you should plant them as soon as possible, either in their permanent position or temporarily in some moist soil, sand or moss peat until you are ready to plant them on a permanent site.  This is known as heeling in.  You may heel them in individually or in bundles, making sure all roots are covered.  If plant roots do appear to dry out, submerge them in water, for at least half an hour before planting.


Preparing the Ground for Planting

Before planting, remove any grass, or weeds which are growing on the site. You can do this manually with a spade or a mechanical digger.  When planting a bare-root hedge I have successfully dug a long narrow trench which eliminates the grass between the plants.  Large stones should be picked out of the site and replaced with good top soil.  To allow for good drainage a small amount of horticultural sand and moss peat can be added.  Do not plant on a wet day, as the site will become too muddy and plants will not settle into the ground properly.  When planting make sure the hole is deep and wide enough to comfortably contain the roots loosely in the hole.  Tease out and spread the roots loosely, now fill in with top soil, moving the plant to and fro to allow the soil work its way around the root.  Repeat this until you reach the ground level and firm in with your boot.  This will allow the plant to remain steady and prevent wind rocking.  Plant no deeper than the soil mark on the plant.

If dry conditions remain after planting, water your plants once a week, for two to three weeks, this is especially important during the latter end of the dormant season, late February and March.

Tree Staking

Trees requiring a stake to hold them firmly, should be planted after the stake is driven into the hole.  The prevailing wind should reach the stake before the tree.  After planting, tie the tree to the stake with soft strapping.  Severe drying conditions can occur during Spring time, so water at regular intervals.

Advice can be given on pruning and shaping of individual trees to improve their shape and appearance.  Establishment of trees and hedging plants will be greatly improved if competing grass and weeds are kept at bay, by regular weeding.  An organic mulch of farmyard manure applied at spring time will help boost plants such as hedging.  A suitable base fertiliser may be applied the following Spring to boost growth.

Summary of key points for bareroot planting

  • Plant roots to be kept moist at all times.
  • Firm in plants after planting.
  • Water at intervals after planting.


Some common Tree and Hedging varieties suitable for planting bareroot








Spanish Chestnut













Advantages of bareroot planing

  • Plants are more economical.
  • Plants easier to handle and transport.

Advantage of potted / container plants

  • Plants can be planted any time of the year.
  • Plants are more stable in the ground / quicker to establish.