How to Transplant Bare Root Plants

Bare Root Plants are shipped in a plastic bag with sphagnum peat moss. The bare root material should be covered with damp (not wet) peat moss and kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to plant. A constant temperature of 34° to 38° F is ideal. Do not allow the bare root to dry out or freeze.

Site Preparation

The area you are planting should be free of weeds and other vegetation to minimize competition for water, light and nutrients. Planting directly into a live, established sod is not recommended. Large clods or clumps of soil should be broken up. Make sure that the soil is in a condition that allows full contact with the Bare Roots, at all points

Transplanting Bare Roots

Take care not to let the plants dry out, or leave them exposed to sun or wind. Dig the hole for the transplant roots, deep enough to accommodate the entire length of the root. Do not bend roots into a hole that is too shallow, as this will retard growth. Make sure that the soil is in a condition that allows good contact with the bare roots. Place the roots up against the “wall” of soil that is created by the digging of the hole. Position the plant so that the buds are at the proper depth for that root type (refer to the examples shown). Spread the roots out to maximize contact with the soil. This will allow for rapid establishment by encouraging maximum absorption of water and nutrients. Next, place soil firmly around the roots, but avoid compacting the soil. Compacted soil impedes water and air movement to and from the roots, which can suffocate the plant. Clay soils are particularly prone to compaction when they are wet. Don't transplant into wet clay soil, instead, wait until the soil is drier and workable. Avoid packing soil directly above the buds, as this can damage buds and retard emergence.

Instructions for Different Root Types

Fibrous: Shootingstar, Hepatica

Planting Depth: The dormant buds should be one inch below the soil surface. If leaves are present, make sure that they extend above the soil line, with the root itself completely in the ground. Fibrous roots are characterized by the numerous roots emanating from the root crown, where the roots meet the buds.

Rhizome:  Wild Ginger, Mayapple, Virginia Bluebell, Bellwort, Red Trillium, Prairie Trillium, Solomon's SealSolomon's Plume

Planting Depth: Plant rhizomes horizontally, one to two inches deep, with buds at or just below the soil surface. Attached feeder roots should be planted down into the soil. A rhizome is a modified root that acts as and agent for the spread of a plant.

Corms:  Trout Lily,  Jack in the Pulpit, Large Flowered Trillium, Yellow Wakerobin

Planting Depth: Corms should be placed so the top of corm and the buds are two inches below the soil surface. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the roots from the buds, making it hard to tell which end is up. The roots are dark and wiry. The buds have a pinkish color, and are often obscured by the previous year's brown-colored old growth.

Bulbs:  Wild Onions, Wild Leek 

Planting Depth: Bulbs should be planted so that the white part of the plant is below ground, with any green growth being above the soil. Bulbs are roots adapted to store nutrients and moisture during periods of plant dormancy. Most bulbs produce off shoots to generate new plants to ensure longevity.

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