Why would you want to buy bare root fruit trees and why would we sell them this way? Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to plant your bare root fruit tree!
First, they are a lot easier to transport without the pot filled with dirt and you can see how healthy they are based on what their root structure looks like.
1. Soak the roots in water for about 8 to 12 hours before planting.
You can let them sit in a bucket of water overnight to soak in water. Throughout the process you want to keep them moist through the complete process. If you are not planting the tree within the first 24 hours after your purchase, you will want to “heel” the tree into a pile of soil or a bucket of soil mix. It is important to note that you do not want the root system to dry out so be sure to keep all the roots covered.
2. Dig the planting hole twice as wide as the root system.
Make sure the spot you choose is in a nice sunny spot because they need full sun. Dig the hole twice as wide as the root system and as deep as the root system. In the Pacific North West, we can get some layers of hard pan or clay so be sure to break that up so that drainage does not become a problem.
3. Mix in compost, native soil and transplant fertilizer.
You want to mix in 50% compost and 50% native soil (the dirt you dug out to get the hole). You will also want Al’s Transplant Fertilizer. It has Mycorrhiza that will help kick start the tree’s growing process. Mycorrhiza works with plant’s roots and the soil to make the plant more efficient in picking up water and other nutrients in the soil. Refer to the label for how much fertilizer to use and place the fertilizer in the hole around the roots. It is important that you place it around the roots so that it can come into contact with the roots and work with them.
4. Mound the soil in the hole and place tree.
Mound the soil in the middle of the hole and spread out the roots over the mound. The bud union is where the root stock and fruiting section of the tree have been grafted. This happens because some root systems are stronger and survive better so they graft the plants onto those root systems. You want the bud union to face north east, which is away from the direction of the sun. When filling the hole back fill it without compacting the soil. You want to drench the soil several times and allow it to settle. This eliminates any air pockets that might pop up. Add 2-3” of mulch around the tree but do not to cover the bud union with dirt or mulch you want that to stay above ground.
5. Add an irrigation system.
It is important that a growing tree establishes its roots and the best way to do this is to water consistently. To make sure the water soaks all the way down and really saturates the roots is by installing a soaker hose.
6. Support your tree with stakes.
Lastly, you will want to stake your tree. The best way to do this is with two nice and sturdy stakes. Since your tree is new and does not have an established root system you want to provide support above ground. To secure your tree to the stakes you want to counterbalance but not tie it too tightly. We suggest chain tie, you will need two pieces of the same length. Loop the one tie to include the tree and one stake and then the other tie goes around the tree and the other stake. Make it look like a Venn diagram with the tree in the middle! Provide a little bit of wiggle room so it is not too tight for growth. Give the roots a minimum of a year to get established and then you can take the stakes off.
There you have it! A step by step on planting bare root fruit trees. We also have a video on our social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram) where our tree and shrub expert walk you through the steps!