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Keeping bare-root trees alive for a while

Posted by ottawan_z5a z5a Ottawa (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 9, 08 at 22:40

Please advise. I have located a nursery that has bare-root dormant trees of "Early Redhaven" peach available, and they are already selling these now. I was told that they usually run out of these by mid-February so I should order now. I am in Ottawa Zone 5a and will not be able to plant these for a while (until April, I guess). What options do I have to keep these bare-root plants viable until April.
Can I put the bare-roots in moist peat-moss and store the plants in a cool dark place? Or should I pot them now and place them in front of a west facing window that does not provide bright light?
What technique would help in keeping the plants alive until sometime in April when I shall be able to plant them out.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Keeping bare-root trees alive for a while

  • Posted by
    tim stoehr
    ( on
    Thu, Jan 10, 08 at 11:29

Do not bring it into any heated location. I don't know if that's what you were considering. The moist peat moss and a cool dark place sounds good, but you don't want the roots to freeze.
Can't you dig a temporary hole, plant the tree there, and move it in April? Or pot it up and sink the pot into a hole in the ground to prevent root freezing.
Or is your ground frozen solid?

RE: Keeping bare-root trees alive for a while

Thanks Tim
The ground is frozen solid here in Zone 5 for a month. We had temeratures between -1F and -11F a week ago (& January thaw now). So the temporary hole in a shaded area would have been a good solution. My cold storag ehas temperature around 45F to 50F until spring.

RE: Keeping bare-root trees alive for a while

I have done this by putting the plants in 5 gallon buckets and filling the buckets with slightly damp sand, or if I can't get that, potting soil from the store. I dig holes in the snow to the ground outside the north side of the barn. The buckets then are put in the snow holes and get covered with snow. They are usually okay until I can plant them as soon as the ground can be worked.

I have had good luck asking nurseries to put a blue ice cold pack in the package, in case the package is transported in heated trucks, etc. They often charge more, but it is worth it.

In the past, I have gotten plants that were coming out of dormancy when I got them. In these cases, I pot them up like above, except they go into a heated area with light, such as my basement until the outside plants break dormancy.

Good luck.

RE: Keeping bare-root trees alive for a while

No big deal. Just throw the trees in your cool dark place, tie the branches as tight as possible and put them in large plastic construction bags with just few holes for respiration. Before closing up the bags put in a couple shovel fulls of moist not soppy peat moss. Be sure the peat doesn't dry out and plant them when you're ready. Bare root plants are much tougher than people think and the roots don't really dry out very easily- the fine roots have already been destroyed. The large roots resist dehydration.

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