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Camp Internet's Global Gardening Studies are open to all Camp Expedition Teams. RAIN's Youth Technology Corps members are Expedition Team Leaders for Communities taking part.

How to do Bareroot planting

Bareroot planting is a great way to get a head start on spring. You can purchase larger plants for less money, and still enjoy them just the same as if you had spent more money on container plants. They do however take a little more care when planting than container grown plants. Here are a few tips to help your bareroot experience become a pleasant one.

Soil Preparation: This step is important, don't skimp on improving the quality of your soil. Healthy, vigorous, productive plants are dependent on their existing soil. The soil in many locations and around foundations is often poor. Time and money spent to improve the soil around new plantings is an excellent investment. Most plants do best in soil that is fertile, loose, high in organic matter and well-drained. Roots require oxygen as well as moisture and nutrients. A good root system is necessary for a healthy top. We recommend Back to Nature® or Hu-More Soil Builder® to enrich your soil.

Pre-Planting: Before planting bareroot or dormant nursery stock, soak the roots in a pail or bucket of water for 18-24 hours. Do not exceed 24 hours. This allows them to take up the maximum amount of water and does not injure the plant.

Root Pruning: Although not always necessary, it is a good idea to prune scraggly or damaged roots from your bareroot plants before setting. Be sure to use a clean, sharp pruning tool and just snip off the ends behind any scraggly or damaged roots.

Top Pruning: Top pruning can be done before or after planting. We, however do not recommend top pruning unless the plant is spindly or is hard to handle in its present state. Remember: Bareroot plants are generally set out sooner than others. Top pruning will encourage bushiness, but take note that some new growth may get nipped by a frost. Also, always consider the bloom time of the particular plant, and prune following those guidelines.

Fertilizing: We recommend using a root stimulator when planting bareroot specimens. One we are especially fond of is Ortho Up-Start®, but many good root stimulators are available. Always follow manufacturers directions when using any fertilizer.

Setting the Plant: Make sure the hole is large enough so the roots are not crowded and the soil in the bottom is loose. If your soil is heavy clay, soil preparation is especially important. As you add soil be sure to pack it firmly around the roots, but not hard enough to damage the roots, and add water in the hole to prevent air pocket near the roots.

Watering: Keep in mind that newly planted trees and shrubs will need more water than established plants. Watering depends on environmental conditions, and new plantings should be checked on a daily basis. Watering should also be done slowly, and at the base of the plant so it soaks into the ground to the root depth.

Quick Tip: Too much water can actually cut off needed air to the roots and can cause root rot!

Mulching: Mulching is important because it helps maintain a uniform supply of moisture while keeping weed growth down. We recommend a layer of 2-4 inches of mulch. Mulches can range from shredded cypress or cedar to coca hulls. I am not as fond of the bark chips (because they will float) as the shredded type mulch, but it is all personal preference.