How to - Techniques

Three tips for planting store-bought plants

Karen York
Photography by
Cybèle Young (illustrations)

From bare root to burlapped, give your nursery purchases a healthy start with these techniques

store-bought-bareroot.jpgTechnique: Planting bare root plants
Many mail-order plants are shipped bare root, i.e., there’s no soil around the roots, though they’re usually packed in peat moss or sawdust to keep the roots moist. Try to get bare root plants in the ground right away; if you must hold them for a day or two, keep them cool and moist. To start, take the plant out of the package and carefully shake off the packing material. Submerge the roots in a bucket of water for about 10 minutes. Cut off any rotten or damaged roots with secateurs. Expose the roots to the air as little as possible: either put them back in the bucket (for up to six hours) or cover them with a wet cloth until you’re ready to plant. Dig a generously wide hole to give the roots room to be spread out in all directions. For best soil contact, build up a mound of soil in the middle and set the crown on top (making sure it’s the right depth. Gently splay the roots evenly over the mound and start covering them with soil, working the soil around them to avoid air pockets. About halfway through, water the roots—this will wash the soil into any gaps—and then finish backfilling, covering all the roots and firming the soil as you go. Water well.

Plants commonly sent bare root


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