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Apr 3, 2013 12:11 PM

Planting bareroot trees: to soak or not to soak?

My tree shipment from Jung arrived yesterday & the planting instructions say to soak the roots in a bucket for ~18 hours before planting. My tree shipment from Fedco arrived today and the instruction don't mention soaking. Should I soak them all? Or not at all?

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  1. Can't hurt, as the old saying goes. And be sure to water them regularly thru the summer, if it doesn't rain enough.

    1. In my experience, the #1 thing to do with bareroot trees is to get them in the ground. Trim off any broken roots, and make sure the roots are distributed evenly when you plant. Fill with good soil, nothing fancy. Make sure the soil is tamped down but not compacted, because if the water pools around the roots before they "root" and take hold of their environment, you'll get root rot. Make a well and water, but don't kill it b/c as of right now, the tree's still dormant. As sparrowgrass said, once they're growing, give them a good soaking every week.

      1. Thanks to you both. I ended up soaking just about all of them, half one day & half the next. We'll see how they do!

        1. Here is some advice I clipped from a semi-pro grower who also has a thriving nursery business...:

          No! Don’t! Please don’t Plant Me in the Swamp!
          Listen up! Here’s the deal. Plants need water to live just like me and you. But that doesn’t mean that they love water or wet ground. The opposite is true. They hate wet ground, they hate wet feet and they hate being planted too deep. If you do any one of those things to a tree it will get even with you by just up and dying.
          The roots of your plants need to breath. They actually depend on oxygen being transferred through the soil to the root system. If you plant them too deep or in wet ground that can’t happen and they will die.

          1. This is way too late for the OP but maybe someone else will see it.

            I've planted 40 or so bare root trees in the last few years and I've always soaked them prior to planting, but for nowhere near 18 hours. My method is the put the trees in a bucket of water the morning I'm going to plant, and then just keep them in the bucket until I have the hole dug and I'm ready to stick the tree in. It's usually between one and 4 hours.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bart Hound

              FWIW all the trees leafed out. It's good to hear everyone's experience, though. I wonder if it makes a difference in how far the trees travel, the exact time of year that you plant, etc. Our weather warmed up fast shortly after my trees arrived so it seems like the timing was just about perfect.