Blossom on an apple tree

Plants to plant bare-root

Discover which plants can be planted bare-root in winter, from trees and fruit bushes to roses and peonies, in our handy guide.

November to March is the ideal time to plant bare-root plants. These are plants that have been been grown in open ground, then dug up for despatch and planting during the dormant season. They are called ‘bare-root’ plants as they are supplied with no soil around their roots. They are usually bought online, or by mail order.

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Bare-root plants are generally cheaper than plants grown in containers, and you’ll often find a wider selection of varieties this way. Planting them in the dormant season means that they should establish well – while the top growth may be brown and twiggy, the roots are busy establishing beneath.

All kinds of plants can be supplied bare-root, from trees to perennials. Find out more below.

Bare-root plants are generally cheaper than plants grown in containers,
and you’ll often find a wider selection of varieties this way.

Trees

Winter is the ideal time to plant a bare-root tree – you’ll find a wide selection at tree nurseries or online. Be sure to mulch and stake afterwards. Watch Monty’s video guide to planting a bare-root tree.

Buy bare-root trees from Crocus

A crab apple tree covered in bright red fruit
A crab apple tree covered in bright red fruit

Hedges

Planting a hedge is much more economical if you buy bare-root plants and while not ‘instant’, they will knit together quickly. It’s a great way to plant beech, hornbeam or an ‘edible hedge’ made up of a mix of edible plants such as blackthorn, cherry plum and Rosa rugosa. Read our guide to planting a bare-root hedge.

Buy bare-root hedging plants from Waitrose Garden

A neatly trimmed beech hedge
A neatly trimmed beech hedge

Roses

You can buy container-grown roses all year round, but for the best selection, it pays to plant them bare-root. They will establish quickly and you should enjoy flowers the following summer. Find out how to plant a bare-root rose.

Buy bare-root roses from Harkness Roses

Pink-cream rose blooms
Pink-cream rose blooms

Perennials

Many perennials can be planted bare-root. Peonies in particular are best planted this way, although you can also plant agapanthus, hardy geraniums and a host of other plants. Discover 10 perennials to plant bare-root.

Buy bare-root perennials from Amazon

Peach bloom of Paeonia 'Coral Charm'
Peach bloom of Paeonia ‘Coral Charm’

Fruit bushes and canes

The dormant season is also the ideal time to plant fruit – especially if you are planting lots of plants – it’s much more economical and you’ll get the widest pick of varieties. Follow our advice on planting bare-root raspberries and bare-root blackcurrants.

Buy bare-root fruit bushes and canes from Primrose

Ripening and ripe raspberries on a cane
Ripening and ripe raspberries on a cane

Fruit trees

You’ll find the widest selection of fruit trees – if you buy them bare-root – apple, pear, plum, cherry, apricots can all be bought this way. You can also buy bare-root stepovers, espaliers and cordons. Discover how to plant a bare-root fruit tree.

Buy bare-root fruit trees from Dobies

Blossom on an apple tree
Blossom on an apple tree

Shrubs

Shrubs can also be planted bare-root. Willow, yew, Rosa rugosa and viburnum are just some of the shrubs that can be planted this way. Watch our video guide to planting a bare-root shrub.

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Buy bare-root shrubs from Suttons

Orange, round hips of Rosa rugosa
Orange, round hips of Rosa rugosa

Caring for a bare-root plant

It is essential that the roots of a bare-root plant don’t dry out. Be sure to soak the roots in winter as soon as you receive your plants. If you can’t plant immediately – if the soil is frozen, for example – heel them in until the weather improves.

Sprinkling miccorhizal fungi around the roots when planting will increase nutrient and water uptake and help bare-root plants establish well.

Buy miccorhizal fungi on Amazon