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  3. Growing Plants from Bare-Root: A Thrifty Gardener’s Guide

Growing Plants from Bare-Root: A Thrifty Gardener’s Guide

Bare-root plants are an excellent and cost-effective way to expand your garden. In this article, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of growing bare-root plants, helping you nurture them to become vibrant additions to your garden.

 Bare-root strawberry plants 
 Bare-root strawberry plants 

What Are Bare-Root Plants?

Bare-root plants are delivered to your doorstep dormant, with their roots exposed rather than in pots. Since they’re dormant when you receive them, they may not look like much. But don’t worry; once spring comes, these plants will wake up and start growing quickly.

Planting bare rooted peony tubers in soil in autumn garden
Planting bare-rooted peony tubers in soil in autumn garden

Many plants are available as bare-root options, including trees, hedges, roses, perennials, and shrubs. This offers a fantastic opportunity to grow your garden with an array of stunning plants.

Getting Ready to Plant

Before your bare-root plants arrive, preparing the planting site is essential. Remove any pesky perennial weeds that are growing where you want to grow your new plants. Fork in some bone meal or similar nutrient-rich fertiliser a few weeks before planting, giving your new plants the perfect head start.

Can’t Plant Immediately?

If you can’t plant immediately upon delivery, don’t worry! Store them in an unheated but frost-free garage or shed for 3 to 4 days, ensuring the roots stay moist by wrapping them in damp hessian or a similar material. If the ground is frozen or excessively wet, cover the roots with damp compost and wait for the conditions to improve before planting.

Planting Bare-Root Plants

Assuming you can plant directly in your garden, the first step is to rehydrate the roots. Simply place them in a bucket of water for around 2 hours. Once the roots are happy and hydrated, dig a hole deep enough for the old soil mark on the stem to be level with or just below the surface. Ensure the hole is wide enough for the roots to spread out evenly. Gently fill the hole with soil, firmly but not too forcefully, and tread lightly from outside the hole toward the stem.

Finding the Perfect Spot

Most hardy perennial plants thrive in a spot with full sun or partial shade and well-draining soil. However, it’s always worth checking the specific growing requirements of each plant variety to ensure they are placed in their ideal environment for optimal growth.

Ideal Planting Time

November to March is the ideal time to plant bare-root plants. These resilient plants have been grown in open ground and are ready for dispatch and planting during their dormant season.

Choosing the Right Soil

When planting a perennial pot display, opt for soil-based or garden soil instead of multipurpose compost. This soil type is more robust, heavier, and denser, providing better support for your plants in the long run.

Potting Up Bare-Root Plants

While many bare-root perennials can do well when planted directly into borders, there’s a risk of them getting lost among neighbouring plants or facing disturbance during routine weeding. To ensure they get the best start, we recommend potting them up in temporary pots and growing them in a sheltered, sunny spot outdoors for a few months before planting.

If you prefer planting your bare roots in pots, follow these simple steps:

  1. Soak the roots in water for 3-6 hours before planting;

  2. Use multipurpose compost in temporary pots during spring;

  3. Allow enough space for roots to grow;

  4. Place the roots downward and the crown 1 inch from the top of the soil;

  5. Finally, transplant them into borders or permanent containers during late spring or early summer.


So there you have it – a simple guide to growing plants from bare roots. Don’t let their dormant appearance fool you; these plants are brimming with potential and will reward your care and attention with vibrant growth and a flourishing garden.

Updated on March 15, 2024

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