It’s Bare Root Season

    • Tulip tree magnolias are in glorious bloom. They can be planted now during the dormant season from balled & burlapped specimens.
    • Cut back suckers on lilac bushes. Wait until they bloom to prune them, then you can bring the fragrant branches indoors.
    • Deciduous Clematis vines can be cut back to about waist height, to encourage bushiness, more flowers and a nicer looking vine. Do this now before the new growth starts.
    • Fragrant daphne is an early-blooming shrub that will delight you with its strongly scented blooms each spring. Plant it in well-drained soil.
    • Onion plants can be set out now for early summer harvest.

It’s Bare Root Season

Cold nights and short days tell plants that it’s time to hibernate, which, to a plant, means to go into dormancy. Many trees, shrubs and perennials do that by dropping their leaves and storing reserves in their branches and roots through the winter. This is the dormant season and, in the nursery world, it’s the “bare root” season.

When deciduous plants go dormant, they can be dug up and transplanted with minimum shock or damage. In fact, the soil can be washed off their roots and they can be transported great distances in this “bare root” condition. This is the primary way that fruit trees, roses, grapevines, berry vines and many ornamental trees and shrubs are handled.

Because of the ease of harvesting, storing and shipping, this is a very economical way to bring plants to nurseries to sell. Nurseries like to pass along those prices to gardeners. So if you buy them while they are still dormant, before the nursery has to pot them up using soil and containers, the savings are passed on to you.

Trees, especially, are easier to plant when they are bare root. They are much lighter to handle, which is a real advantage if it’s a bit of a walk down to your orchard. You can also buy large shade trees much more economically. The good root structure and opportunity to plant the roots into native soil makes for a high success rate.

Don’t worry that these trees look like twigs at this time of the year, because they’ll soon leaf out and be growing vigorously this spring and summer.

Bare root season also offers the best selection of the year for these plants. Dozens of varieties of fruit trees are available, from favorites like ‘Fuji’ apple, ‘Bing’ cherry and ‘Santa Rosa’ plum to unusual ones like fruiting mulberries and Jujubes. You will find many different kinds of blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and kiwi vines, all anxious to be planted in your yard.

There are filberts, chestnuts and walnuts available, that all grow well in our area. And you’ll even find figs and pomegranates to try out in a nice warm spot in the yard.

For the vegetable garden, asparagus roots, rhubarb and artichokes can be planted now. There are many types of mouth-watering strawberries that arrive this time of year. Plant a large bed of them to have luscious berries all spring and summer.

Many ornamentals come in bare root. There are lilacs in a variety of colors and beautiful wisteria vines in pink, purple or white. Roses are now available in every color, shape and fragrance for early planting.

This is also a wonderful time to plant a shade tree. Look for maples, sycamores, redbuds, mulberry trees and lovely mimosas.

It’s an exciting time of the year for plant enthusiasts. But as the weather warms and plants begin to show new life, the bare root season comes rapidly to an end. So don’t wait too long to go shopping for bare root trees and shrubs.

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