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The Advantages of Planting Bare Root Trees and Shrubs


At first glance, bare root trees and shrubs don't look like much. The truth is, bare root plants have a number of distinct advantages over both potted and balled-and-bur-lapped (B&B) plants of the same species. First off, take a look at the price tag. You'll notice that bare root trees and shrubs are always less expensive than their soil-bearing brethren.

Why? Because bare root specimens use fewer resources. They're lighter, and due to their dormant condition require less water and less care overall. They're also cheaper because they don't require much special treatment; in fact, they can be handled in ways that would damage potted or B&B plants.

Less obvious is the fact that bare root trees and shrubs are simply easier to transport than potted and B&B specimens. Think of it this way: you can only fit so many potted plants into a trailer or boxcar, but you can stack bare root versions to the ceiling.

That means they need less fuel per unit to transport. What's more, their lack of soil means a) they're cleaner to ship, and b) they're less likely to introduce insect pests or weeds into your yard, so you've got some eco-friendliness going on too.

Look closely at the tree or shrub itself, and you'll notice that there's an impressive bundle of roots at the base. In fact, the average bare root tree or shrub has a larger root mass than its potted counterpart. This helps them get established quickly once they're planted.

Speaking of planting, did we mention that bare root trees and shrubs are easier to plant than potted or B&B specimens? With bare root stock, you don't have to worry about that blob of soil getting in the way, and the plants are easier to handle because of it.

Plus, you can spread out the roots easily, and you can inspect each root individually for damage.

If you're looking for another advantage, here's a big one: in theory, all trees and most shrubs can be prepared and planted as bare root specimens. It doesn't always work in practice, but the success rate for bare root plantings of all types is surprisingly high.

As wonderful as bare root trees and shrubs are, you don't have as much time to work with them as you do with potted and B&B specimens. They need to be in the ground within a week after purchase, and require shade and careful root moistening until they get there. Their availability is more limited, too; they're usually (but not always) on hand only in mid-spring and in mid-autumn.

But these caveats are pretty minor, and they're a part of the price you pay for efficiency, low cost, and environmental responsibility. You certainly won't mind when your bare root tree or shrub starts blossoming and reaching for the sky.

So what are you waiting for? Click here to find your local Plant Hardiness Zone, and order some bare root trees and shrubs today!

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