How to buy fruit trees and bushes

Learn the pros and cons of buying bare-root, containerised and container-grown plants, in our guide.

Fruit trees and bushes are available to buy in three different ways: as containerised, container-grown or bare-root plants. There are pros and cons to each type.


Bare-root fruit trees and bushes have been lifted from the ground and come with no soil around their roots. Containerised fruit plants have been lifted from the ground prior to sale and then planted into a pot with soil. Container-grown fruit plants have been grown in the pots you buy them in, so the roots haven’t been disturbed.

You’ll also need to consider the ultimate size of a fruit tree – dependent on the type of rootstock it has been grafted on to. If you have a small space, consider dwarf fruit trees, which can be grown in pots or in the ground, or trained fruit trees.

More bare-root content:

Read on to find out which type of fruit plant is best for you, depending on the time of year, the varieties you’re looking for and your budget.

Bare-root fruit plants

Bare-root strawberry plants
Bare-root strawberry plants
  • Available only when dormant (Nov to March)
  • Wide choice of varieties
  • Usually cheaper
  • Need to be planted straightaway, but then establish well

Containerised fruit plants

Planting and watering a peach tree
Planting and watering a peach tree
  • Usually only available in autumn and winter
  • More expensive than bare-root, but cheaper than container-grown
  • Establish quickly, like bare-root plants

Container-grown fruit plants

Firming in newly planted apple trees
Firming in newly planted apple trees
  • More expensive than bare-root or containerised plants
  • They may be pot-bound
  • They are available all year round
  • They don’t need to be planted as urgently as bare-root plants