How to Plant Bare Root Fruit

Bare root plants often establish more quickly than container-grown, giving gardens an instant boost of life.

Materials Needed

  • bare root fruit plants
  • garden shovel
  • cane
  • organic mulch
  • watering can or garden hose
  • spade
  • wooden stakes
  • adjustable ties

Step 1: Plant Trees

Tease Out Roots of Fruit Tree Before Planting

Tease Out Roots of Fruit Tree Before Planting

Dig hole for tree and loosen the soil. Water the hole deeply, and set tree in hole with the graft line of the tree about 3 inches above the ground. Spread roots evenly in all directions. Handle roots carefully in this part of the process.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Plant bare root fruit trees and bushes as soon as possible to prevent the roots from drying out. The planting technique differs from planting container-grown plants, because roots are exposed and can be easily damaged. Dig a suitably large hole, and lower the plant in place, using a cane to ensure the mark on the stem is level with the soil surface. Tease out the roots gently, and spread them out evenly inside the planting hole.

Step 2: Backfill Soil

Backfill Soil Around Newly Planted Fruit Tree

Backfill Soil Around Newly Planted Fruit Tree

Fill hole with soil and firm gently with foot. Check that the tree is vertical. Be sure to overfill the hole so the soil is an inch or two above ground level. The soil will compress when watered, and settle to ground level.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Mix organic matter into the soil, and backfill, working it gently in between the roots. Make sure the plant is planted upright, then water the soil every few spadefuls to ensure there are no air pockets trapped between the roots.

Step 3: Support Stems

Support Young Fruit Trees with Adjustable Ties

Support Young Fruit Trees with Adjustable Ties

Stake the fruit tree, if necessary, especially if the ground is sloping. Tie the tree to the stake with a rubber tie or piece of cloth. The tie should be loose so as not to girdle the tree. Allow plenty of room for the trunk to thicken.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

If planting trees or larger shrubs, support the main stems using stakes and adjustable ties that can be loosened as the plant grows. Support smaller shrubs using canes. Remember to check ties regularly for adjustment.

Step 4: Provide Mulch

Mulch Newly Planted Fruit Tree to Retain Moisture

Mulch Newly Planted Fruit Tree to Retain Moisture

Mulch around the base of the fruit tree with clippings and bark chips to help retain moisture. Be sure to keep graft line clear of mulch so it remains above ground. Water thoroughly throughout season.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Once the tree or shrub is planted, and supported if necessary, water it thoroughly to help settle soil around the roots. Mulch around the plant to retain moisture, and water regularly during dry spells until established. 

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