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How to Plant Bare Root Plants and When!

Written by Reinhart


Posted on January 18 2021

Congratulations! You’re probably here because you just received bare root plants, or are thinking about getting them! Either way, bare root plants are a great way to buy plants. 

Now you’re just left wondering how to plant bare root plants and when. 

The great thing about bare root plants is they are extremely hardy! This doesn’t mean however they’re immune to all planting mistakes. Our aim here at Hand Picked Nursery for this article is to help you be successful on:

  • How to plant bare root plants
  • When to plant bare root plants
  • How long you can keep bare root plants before planting
  • How to plant bare root plants if you are not quite ready to plant

And a few other things!

What is a Bare Root Plant?

Bare root plants are plants that are dormant without soil around the roots. The temperature bare root plants are stored at is what puts them and keeps them in a dormant state until they are ready for planting. 

This will also help to reset their internal clock which can be taken advantage of to produce a larger yield.

In addition to being hardy, buying bare root plants is cheaper than buying plants already in a container. They are also extremely easy to care for once you know how. 

How Long Can you Keep Bare Root Plants Before Planting?

Sometimes you can't always plant right away. You will need to make sure that your plants are kept cold if you store them for a period of time before planting. This will allow for the best survival rate. A temperature of around 32-42 degrees (the temperature of most fridges) is best. 

If you take strawberry plants for example, the most important aspect of this stage is to keep the crown dry and keep the roots moist.

When it comes to the lifespan of a stored bare root plant, all plants are different. Two weeks is a good rule of thumb though and here at Hand Picked Nursery we find this to be ideal. With proper care, your plants could last longer for up to a few weeks. 

Bare Root Plant Crown

Circled in green is the crown of a bare root plant.

The key is to keep the crown dry and free of mold. Mold is a common killer for plants that have been dormant for some time.

Keep in mind too storing plants should be a last case scenario for the best survival rate of your plants. We will shortly cover how you can start your plants right away, indoors, so that storing your plants really is a last case scenario!

When to Plant Bare Root Plants

This is again dependent on the plant, but there are common trends among most bare root plants. 

The best time to plant bare root plants we find is anywhere from November to March. It’s important to note that this does not mean planting outdoors though. 

The key here most of the time is to actually plant early. That’s why “out of season” growing times can actually be the best time to get your plants started indoors.

This will allow your plants to get established giving them a HUGE head start when you move them outdoors! 

A common concern we hear often when planting bare root plants is the lack of growth from the top of the plant (the crown) initially. When you first plant, growth from the crown will be slow in the beginning because the feeder roots are establishing. 

How to Plant Bare Root Plants

This will again be generalized because all plants are different. If you follow this information though, you will have better success. This section can be thought of as best practices!

Starting Bare Root Plants Indoors

Learning how to start bare root plants indoors isn’t vital, but is arguably a best practice before you move them outdoors. Coming soon, we will have great instructional videos covering topics such as this to help you be more successful in your planting efforts!

In the meantime, here are the four things you will need to be in control of:

Well Draining Soil

Soil that holds moisture is a sure way to drown most plants. We recommend mixing in sand with your soil of choice. Also make sure that your soil is shaped so that excess water will run off to the side and not pool around the crown of your plant. This can again increase the chances of your plant drowning and even rotting!

Planting Container

This really could be anything. It could be a pot, cup, etc. Just make sure whatever you do choose has holes in the bottom to allow for drainage and is at least 16 ounces or bigger. Anything smaller and it will be hard to maintain proper moisture.

Grow Light

Although this isn’t required, it is highly recommended. Your plants will need at least 10 hours of light. This can be from direct sun (from a window that gets adequate sun) or a grow light. 

For ultimate growth, we recommend a grow light because of the consistency of quality light and control you will have. 

Below is a link to Happy Leaf, a company we trust and personally use because of the fantastic quality lights they offer. We do make a commission on sales through this link, but we truly believe in, use, and trust Happy Leaf!

Use code "strawberry" at checkout to let them know we sent you!

Air Flow 

Controlling your humidity is vital for bare root plants, excluding asparagus plants. Air flow is important because it will determine your humidity. 

Too much humidity, and the plant will rot. Too little humidity, and the new growth will dry out before it gets established. Each plant has specific humidity requirements. We recommend a small fan to keep the air circulating.

Putting it All Together

That’s all you need! For most plants, environments with temperatures of a minimum of 65 degrees, well draining soil, moderate humidity, and good air flow is a key rule of thumb.

If you follow these rules, and make sure that your plants environment isn’t changing drastically day-to-day, then you are set up for success!

It will take anywhere from three days to two weeks to see if you are on the right track. After about two to four weeks, your plants will be strong and well established. You can now consider transferring them outdoors.

How to Plant Bare Root Plants Outdoors

It’s the big day! Whether you initially planted indoors, or, are going straight to outdoors, you’re finally getting your plants in the garden!

If you started your plants indoors, then this will actually be a simple two part process. This two part process will involve:

  1. Transitioning your plants from indoors to outdoors
  2. Officially planting outdoors

Transitioning From Indoors to Outdoors 

A transition period is ideal before planting outdoors because going from a stable, indoor environment to an unstable, outdoor environment can be quite stressful for the plant. 

You will know it’s time to plant outdoors after the last frost of the year and/or your plants have been started indoors for two to four weeks. This is the time you can begin the transitioning process.

Start by putting your plant into an area that at the most would only get morning sun. You should safely be able to keep your plant outside for a couple to a few hours, but you NEED to keep an eye on it. 

Forgetting about your plant on the wrong day could literally be a matter of life and death. 

If you live in a relatively stable and benign climate, your journey from transitioning to fully planting outdoors should be a smooth and quick process. 

People that live in a more volatile climate may need to be extra vigilant and more patient with the transitioning process.

Planting Outdoors

Planting bare root plants outdoors will be generally similar to planting indoors. 

What you will need for outdoor planting is:

Well Draining Soil

We recommend mixing in sand with your soil of choice. Soil that holds moisture is a sure way to drown most plants. 

Shape the Soil

It’s important to plant your plant in a raised mound of soil so water will run off the sides, and not gather around the stem, crown, etc. If you don’t do this, your plant is at risk of drowning, rotting, or both!

Temperatures Above Freezing

For many types of plants, and to be on the safe side, you will want to plant after the last frost. 

Air flow 

When planting strawberry and raspberry plants, they need to have good air flow to survive. The same goes for many other plants too. Make sure the plants are above any walls or barriers that could prevent proper air flow to the plant. This also goes for plants in pots and raised beds.


All plants are different. However, when working with bare root plants there are best practices and that’s what this article aimed to give you! It will be very important that you follow all of the guidelines within this article so that you have the most success and consistent results!

If you’re ready to adopt your very own bare root plant today, check out our inventory here! 

For questions, concerns, or trouble shooting, we are always happy to help over the phone or through email. You can contact us here.



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