GROW: Bare Root Fruit Trees

“Bare root” is a term used for tree stock that will arrive without soil covering its roots. You can purchase these from November-February (late autumn-early spring) whilst the tree is dormant.

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It’s important to plant it whilst it’s dormant as this will cause least disturbance to the tree and won’t impact its growth/flowering/fruiting.

Once the bare root tree arrives you should plant it as soon as possible! Soak the roots in water for 1-2 hours; they might have dried out slightly during transport.

Dig a square hole that is two times the width of the rootball; scrape the sides of the hole using a fork. This will accommodate fresh compost and allow the roots to spread easily. The hole should be deep enough for the roots to sit on the earth and for the graft union to remain above ground.

Hammer a stake into the hole toward the prevailing wind (just off centre) at a 45 degree angle. Tie the tree to the stake using a rubber tree tie; this will support the tree during strong winds/weather.

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Mound up some earth in the middle of the hole and place the roots over it. This provides extra surface area for the roots to have contact with.


Ensure the graft union sits above ground level. If it doesn’t then backfill the hole slightly to raise the floor level.

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Backfill the hole with a mixture of compost and existing earth (50:50).

Gently heel/firm down the soil to remove air pockets.

Mulch around the tree (not touching the stem) to prevent it from competing with weeds.

Water the tree if dry. Water again if it’s a dry spring. Water throughout summer. Be careful not to overwater.

Remove the stake after a year. Enjoy the fruit!!

Published by eleanorowensgardening

Young gardener based in West Sussex.

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