Storing bare root plants

toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)February 2, 2011

I have a few bare root seedlings coming mid to late March. I suspect it would be a week or two before they are all planted.

What do you think my best bets for storage?

I was thinking about laying twenty or so on their sides in an old damp cake pan inside a refrigerator. I'm not above putting some damp soil in the pan. My guess is this would keep the buggers dormant.

The other choice is heeling them in inside a few large pots filled with soil but I will have a more difficult time convincing anyone to let me put them in the fridge lol.

Any ideas?

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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

A cellar or some other place where the temperature stays below 50 or so but above freezing would be better. A refrigerator's environment is too dry. I wouldn't bother with pots or soil until you're ready to have them come out of dormancy, either. Different nurseries have different packing methods, but most supply good instructions about how to store their dormant plants.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 5:50AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

in my z5.. with that perfect timing .... i would have two options ...

one ... pot with some damp media ... and just clump them all in your hand.. and loosely stick them in the pot .. and backfill lightly with the media ... my garage would be the equivalent to the fridge .... with the added benefit of getting them accustomed to my climate .... all we want the media to do.. is temper temps fluctuations.. and add some humidity .... its not really about providing water.. since a dormant tree really has little need for such ... its just about keeping the roots turgid.. or full of water ...

in the alternative.. a kitchen towel.. dampened ... and wrung out completely.. and just leave them standing up in a bucket with the roots wrapped in the towel/rug ..... again.. just humidifying the roots ...

NEVER leave them in a pail of water .... or in the shipping package that is not opened ...

i agree on the fridge .. think about your lettuce or carrots .... and what they look like after a while in that desert known as your fridge or freezer ...

i have also just opened the packing... poured some water into the paper.. and then drained it all out .... again.. just humidity ...

at this time of year.. the cement floor in the attached garage.. is basically a large ice cube.. and will moderate the temp spikes ... keeping the plants fully dormant... and that is what you want.. to maintain dormancy... but avoid the roots drying ....

if per chance.. the soil is thawed ... just heel them in .. in shade somewhere ... all in one hole ... and let ma nature take care of it for you ...

i think that ended up being more than 2 choices ... lol ...

dont overthink it all and try to kill them with to much love ... they are dormant trees ... and if zone appropriate... should not need much of anything besides that root humidity ...


    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 9:19AM
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They just need to be kept cool and the roots protected from drying out. So that means don't store them indoors - OK for the garage, unheated basement, whatever fits that "cool" requirement. I have issues with plants in the frig but that's just me - if that's your only alternative. And keep the roots away from exposure to air - wrap in moistened newspaper, paper towels, damp sawdust, potting soil, etc. Bare root plants sold at my nursery are stored in bins of moist sawdust.......for the entire bare root planting season or until we decide to pot them up.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 10:47AM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

My wife will be thrilled if I dont keep them in the fridge anyway lol. Sounds like the garage is the winner, especially if the temperature is normal.

My basement is heated so that is a no go.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 2:38PM
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