Bare Root Perennial Planting Instructions

Immediately open the plastic bag to allow air circulation and so your roots can ‘breathe’.

We strongly recommend planting within 3 days of arrival.

Step-by-Step instructions for planting bare root perennials.

How to Plant

Bare Root Perennial Planting Pic

Dig a hole that is 4 to 6 inches deep and 2 times the width of your root division. If you have heavy clay or sandy soil, you can amend the soil at this time, or backfill with original soil. Leave 1-2 inches from the original soil surface. Loosen and fan out the roots of your division and place in the hole with the eyes (buds) facing up. Cover with loose soil and water in generously. Most perennials prefer to be kept drier while they are dormant (without leaves) so water sparingly until you see foliage growth, and then water as recommended for the specific plant family and variety.

Poor weather or soil conditions?

If you cannot plant your Bare-Root Perennials as recommended due to weather or soil conditions, moisten the media the roots are shipped in, wrap loosely in plastic (do not seal, but try to prevent moisture loss) and store in a cool, dark place such as a basement, garage or cellar. The ideal temperature to temporarily store bare-root perennials is 40 degrees F, but anything below 60 degrees F will work for a short period of time (3-7 days). Make sure to keep them moist but not soggy until ready to plant. When preparing for planting after short-term storage, soak roots in warm water for 5-10 minutes and then plant as recommended. If you have to wait more than 10 days after delivery to plant, it is advised to ‘heel in’ your bare-root plants.

‘Heeling in’

This is basically a temporary or makeshift planting. Dig a trench (if possible) and put your perennial(s) in it; cover with loose soil or mulch and keep moist. Carefully dig up when ready to plant into desired garden area.

Alternately, if you have to wait more than 10 days to plant, you may decide to pot up your perennial in a container large enough for additional root growth and eventually acclimate it to the outdoors and plant into the garden.

Overwintering

For your perennials’ first winter we recommend using protective winter mulch.

  • Cover your plants after they go dormant in fall with 6-12 inches of straw, hay or leaves.
  • You may also use a plastic bag partially filled with leaves to create a ‘blanket’ 6-12 inches thick. Remove bag or rake off straw/leaves in spring once all danger of hard frost is past, ideally before plants leaf out.
  • DO NOT use wood chips as winter mulch. They are heavy, will compact, and trap moisture. These conditions often cause root rot and plant death.

Purchasing

To purchase bare-root perennials for planting, please visit our Buy Plants Page.