28 Jan Bare Root Basics
‘Tis the season for planting bare root woodies — ornamental trees, roses and other shrubs for your garden, and for your edible garden, fruit trees, cane berries, and strawberries. And that’s just for starters. You’re going to find lots of choices for bare root perennials this time of year as well, such as hosta and daylilies, and oodles of tubers like dahlia and iris.
So what the heck does “bare root” mean? Bare root plants have been dug up at their nursery of origin and the soil has been removed. They’ll likely be packed in moisture-retentive sawdust and be in a plastic bag when you receive them in the mail or pick them out at your local nursery.
Bare root plants tend to establish themselves more quickly in your garden. A plant that is allowed to root directly into your garden soil isn’t being asked to deal with two types of soil – your soil and the growing medium in its container. This is relevant because water has difficulty passing from one soil texture to another.
Also, the economic benefits of buying bare root plants can be significant. The bare root version of a plant is going to cost a lot less than the very same plant purchased in a nursery pot a couple months down the road. This can really add up if you’re buying a lot of plants to start a new garden or orchard. Plus, let’s not forget the environmental benefit of one fewer nursery pot in circulation.
Shipping bare root plants while they’re dormant has a couple of benefits. For starters, without soil, the overall weight of the package is going to be reduced, so you’ll be saving on shipping costs. Also the dormant plants have an easier time of it in transit, are perhaps a little less susceptible to shipping trauma. And because we’re shipping while the weather is cool, heat stress is reduced.
If you’re like me, though, and will have a hard time getting your act together soon enough to place an order for direct shipping to your home, worry not. You’ll still find tons of selection at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show’s marketplace.
For more great gardening tips, visit Jasmine’s San Francisco Flower & Garden Show blog.