Protect Plant Roots
Don't expose roots to air or sun-keep covered with wet burlap or towels.
When Planting's Delayed
IF WEATHER IS WARM: Heel in trees and shrubs by digging a trench in a shady spot and temporarily planting the roots under 6 inches of moist soil.
IF WEATHER IS COLD: Sprinkle roots of trees, shrubs and roses with water, rewrap and store in a cool basement. Do not allow the stock to freeze. Plant as soon as possible.
Store strawberries and perennials in your refrigerator vegetable drawer until conditions are right for planting. Wrap roots in damp paper toweling and cover with a plastic bag to prevent drying.
Do not be alarmed if the roots on some perennials have a powdery appearance. A few varieties are susceptible to rotting while out of the ground. This is not a problem once they're planted. Plant as soon as you can. Keep bulbs and onion sets at 50 degrees. Store potted plants on a sunny windowsill. Remove the cardboard sleeve and water well until planting conditions are favorable.
If potato sets show signs of mold, spread them out to dry in an airy room.
Dig Hole and Set Stock
Dig wide enough to hold the roots with out crowding and deep enough to set stock at the same depth it grew in the nursery. Trim damaged roots before planting. If the ground is hard, break up the soil at the bottom of the hole and add a little topsoil. Position the stock and add several inches of soil. Firm soil gently to remove air pockets, then water. When water has soaked in, add remaining soil and water again. When you finish, the plant should sit level with or 1-2 inches above the surrounding soil to allow for settling. Water frequently the first year and mulch with straw or hay.
Prune the Stock
Most stock is pruned before shipping to avoid damage in transit, so only minor pruning is needed. Remove crossed limbs and broken branches.
The biggest mistake people make with dormant bareroot stock is to assume that it is dead. One tree or shrub may bud and leaf out quickly, while another will take much longer. This is normal. Don't give up - keep watering on a weekly basis. If in doubt, lightly scratch the bark with your fingernail. If the wood is green, the plant is alive.