Planting Bare-Root Trees

Bare-root trees should be planted in the early spring, when they are dormant.

Preparation

Bare-root seedlings should be planted as soon as possible upon receiving them, ideally within 24-48 hours. Store them in a cool humid location until you are ready to plant, keeping them in the original packaging. Protect the roots from drying out or freezing. Make sure not to leave the roots exposed to air and direct sunlight, and keep them protected while transporting them.

When you are ready to plant them, soak the roots in water for 1-2 hours. Inspect the roots and prune out any damaged ones. 

Planting

The planting hole should be the same depth as the root system, but twice as wide. Mound some soil at the center of the planting hole, and spread the roots over this so they are evenly laid out. Backfill with the original topsoil, making sure that the trunk flare (the location that the trunk begins to widen where it meets the roots) is above the soil line. Planting too deeply can kill a tree. Gently tamp down the soil around the base of the seedling to prevent air pockets, and water thoroughly. Give it a gentle tug to make sure that it is in place. 

For more Information

Check out the following resources for more informatiopn about bare-root tree planting and care:

Planting bare-root trees (Iowa State University)

Planting bare-root tree seedlings (Penn State Extension)