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Bare root plants don't require potted packaging

It's winter and the garden seems bare. While you might snuggle in the house and walk bare foot (without shoes) or ride a horse bare-back (without a saddle) and get so mad you could fight bare knuckled (without gloves), you probably would not garden unless you had some tools; the bare necessities. But what about something else that is usually bare in the garden, bare root trees and roses.

Most plants and trees come two ways, in pots surrounded by soil, or in a package without soil, so they're called "bare root." To save shipping costs, most mail order plants are shipped bare root and even local nurseries sell many bare root trees and roses.

All come with the roots wrapped in damp peat moss or other organic matter for the simple reason that if roots dry out completely the plant dies.

You may be shocked when you first see a bare root rose bush, fruit tree or shrub. They look like a dead bunch of sticks. Just remember that bare root plants will grow their roots first and leaves and stems last so it's all about getting the roots off to a good start.

To revive a bare root plant before setting it out in the garden, first remove all the packing material and shake off everything on the roots. Cut off any broken stems or roots and immediately plunge the roots into a bucket of water for several hours. Be sure all of the roots are underwater. It's okay if the stem is under water too.

Meanwhile dig a large planting hole wider than the plants roots. Make a small cone of soil in the middle of the hole and gently set the plant on top of this cone spreading the roots out. Gently push the soil back around the roots and tamp it down firmly.

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