Learn How To Store And Plant Bare Root Strawberries

Nothing heralds summer’s onset like a crop of fresh strawberries. If you’re starting your own berry patch, it’s very possible that you have purchased bare root strawberry plants. The question now is how to store and plant bare root strawberries.

What is a Bare Root Strawberry?

So exactly what is a bare root strawberry plant? Bare root strawberry plants are dormant plants that are not planted in soil. Instead, they appear as bare roots with shriveled foliage attached. Nurseries and seed catalogs most often ship out bare root plants since they are easier and less expensive to ship. Planting bare root strawberries properly is the key to ensuring that they wake from their dormant state and begin berry production as soon as possible.

It isn’t always easy to tell if the plant is alive and healthy, but there are some hints that can clue you into the welfare of the plants.

First, they should not show any signs of mold or mildew and should not smell odd or rotten.
Second, the berry plants should be free from damage with foliage intact and heavy, not light, dried out root systems.

Planting Bare Root Strawberries

Plan on planting the bare root berries outside after all danger of frost has passed in your region. June bearing varieties should be planted in early spring once the soil has thawed.

Prepare a full sun, well-draining garden plot with 3 inches (8 cm.) of compost dug into a 12-inch (30 cm.) depth. Also, work in 1 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer for each 100 square feet (30 m.) of the bed. Soak the bare root strawberry plants for 20 minutes in a bucket of water. Just soak the roots, there’s no need to submerge the entire plant. This allows the roots to rehydrate and break their dormant cycle.

Next, dig planting holes to the length of the roots and two times as wide. Gently spread out the roots in the hole and fill in with soil, keeping the crown of the plant at soil level. Space the plants 18 inches (46 cm.) apart in rows that are 3 feet (1 m.) apart. Water in well and lay a 2-inch (5 cm.) layer of mulch around each plant to conserve water. Thereafter, irrigate the bed each week with 1-2 inches (3-5 cm.) of water. Bare root strawberry plants should begin leafing out by early summer.

Storing Bare Root Strawberries

Storing bare root strawberries is not recommended, but sometimes life throws us a curve ball and it just can’t be avoided. Of primary concern when storing bare root berries is protection from cold weather. Ideally, the strawberry plants will over winter much better in the ground. If it can’t be helped, however, pot them in some good quality soil and place them in the garage, root cellar or basement to protect them from the cold — or during warmer months, keep them cool.

The plants should get some light, so you may choose to store them outside. If that’s the case, be sure to keep them covered during cold snaps. Also, if you store them outside, be aware that if temps warm up, the plants may emerge from their dormancy prematurely. If a frost follows, the plants may die.

Protecting the roots is also of primary concern, which is why it is paramount to cover them up. Either place the plants in potting soil, sand, or wood chips and sawdust; anything to shield the roots and hold in moisture.

Additionally, when storing bare root berries, never let the roots dry out. Keep the roots moist, not waterlogged. While bare roots are prone to drying out, overwatering will likely rot them.

How to succeed with bare root plants: Don't wait too long

Planted as bare root trees, these Asian Pear trees bloom abundantly in spring.

It's still cold outside and many plants in your garden may be dormant. But that doesn't mean you have to wait until the warmth of spring to dig in and add plants to your garden or yard.

Many plants are available as bare root selections, which are sold as one- to three-year-old nursery stock that have been dug from the ground in the fall when dormant. After the soil has been washed off the roots, the plants are packed in a moist material such as sawdust. They are kept in cold-storage facilities and then shipped in late fall, winter or early spring without any soil or potting mix surrounding their roots.

This type of system works well for many woody based plants, like fruit and nut trees, cane fruit and some herbaceous edibles such as strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb. Of course, bare root roses are always in high demand, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Other ornamentals available at many nurseries and garden centers as bare root stock include a wide variety of perennials such as asters, astilbes, coneflowers, daylilies and milkweeds, as well as numerous ornamental trees, shrubs and vines.

Bare root planting season is pretty short, and if you're not on the ball it can slip right by you. Most plants need to be shipped and planted while still dormant and before their buds start swelling. January to early April is typically the time to buy and begin planting your bare root stock, depending on your plant.

Many of the local nurseries and garden centers offer a variety of bare root plants. But if a wider selection is what you seek, buying online or via mail-order is the way to go--especially when it comes to ornamental trees, shrubs and rare heirloom varieties. Regardless of whether you buy bare root plants locally or order online, it's better to place your order earlier rather than later.

Bare root benefits
While container-grown plants do have their place in the landscape, planting bare root stock does come with several advantages.

For starters, bare root plants are typically 20 to 50 percent less expensive than container-grown selections and traditional balled and burlapped (B&B) plants since no pots or potting mix are used in their production. As such, you're able to get more bang for your buck and buy more plants.

Since bare root plants are dormant with no soil around their roots, they are lightweight, less cumbersome and easier to package and therefore less expensive to ship. As such, bare root specimens are easier to plant and easier on your back.

Another advantage that bare root stock has over container-grown is its stronger and wider root system, which provides better anchorage once established, especially when it's a tree. And when properly planted they establish much faster, with less transplant shock and often a higher rate of survival.

When they arrive
Once your plants arrive, the first step is to inspect them carefully. Healthy bare root specimens have plump, fresh and firm stems, twigs, roots and buds. The roots themselves should be moist and well formed, with lots of fine, fibrous feeder roots growing from the main root system. Avoid plants that are dried, brittle or shriveled roots that are slimy, squishy or moldy and dried or leafed out buds.

Ideally, bare root plants should be planted within 24 hours upon arrival. But if this is not possible there are ways to keep them viable for short periods until you are ready to plant.

You can keep them in their original package for several days as long as you keep the water-retaining packing material around the roots moist--not soggy--and move the boxes to a cool and shady freeze-free location.

Dipping the roots in a hydrogel slurry will buy you up to an extra week of planting time. Hydrogels are synthetic compounds that look like table sugar when dry, but when moistened they can hold several hundred times their weight in water. Leave the slurry on the roots after dipping and secure a large, pleated plastic bag around the roots to hold in moisture, then cover the bagged roots with a tarp. Store plants in a cool, shaded freeze-free location until you're ready to plant, but wait no longer than a week.

Another option for delayed planting is to heel in the plants. The most common way of doing this is to dig a trench deep enough to accommodate the plant roots in a shady and wind-protected area. After soaking the roots for several hours, lay plants in the trench at an angle, then cover the roots with soil and water thoroughly. Mulch with moist sawdust, straw, or shredded leaves. This will buy you one to two weeks holding time as long as you keep the soil moist.

No matter which "holding" process you choose, it's vital that you keep the roots covered and protected at all times. The most common reason why bare root plants fail is desiccation or, more simply put, because the roots were allowed to dry out.

Mulching is beneficial when planting a tree, especially when planting a bare root specimen.

How to plant
To prepare your bare root specimen for planting, you first need to prune any damaged, broken or blackened roots back to healthy-looking tissue. Shortening long roots will also make it easier to plant and increase the number of water absorbing root tips soon after planting.

Next, rehydrate the roots by soaking in a pail of water for several hours or overnight. Time your soaking so that you can leave the roots in water buckets until the minute you're ready to plant, but no longer than 24 hours.

To plant, dig a hole that is shallow and tapered: make it deep enough to accommodate the height of the root system and one-and one-half to two times the width of the extended root mass. This gives roots plenty of room to grow outwards. Use a spade to break up any compacted soil and loosen the soil on the sides and bottom, then throw in several shovelfuls of loamy topsoil or compost, digging it into the surrounding native soil until blended. Fill the hole with water and allow to drain.

Once the plant is properly positioned, gently fill in the hole with loose soil or a blend of compost mixed with native soil. Steady the plant with one hand, then use your hands or feet to gently firm in the soil and stabilize the plant. This, along with a thorough watering, will help remove any air pockets and settle the soil around the roots.

You can help roots access the water they need by building a ring of soil around the plant's base. Water deeply, filling the basin several times if needed. Then spread a two- to three-inch layer of mulch around the plant to help retain moisture, moderate soil temperatures, prevent weeds, and protect its roots. Leave a mulch-free zone around the base of the trunk or stem to reduce the risk of fungal infection or rodent damage.

Growing on
Providing adequate and consistent moisture for the first year is key to ensuring continued development of the root system. The rule of thumb is 1 inch of moisture per week for most plants. The goal is to keep the soil moist but never soggy or the roots may rot. By summer the plants will be engulfed in foliage and on their way to a great finish, which is a beautiful and fruitful garden.

How to Plant Bare Root Strawberries in Hanging Baskets

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If you have limited space, a desire for a beautiful hanging plant or a love for strawberries, a hanging basket of strawberries may be for you. Inexpensive, bare root strawberries planted in hanging baskets will produce green foliage, dainty white flowers and ruby red fruit. The health of the plant will improve due to the increased air circulation and the elimination of ground pests. The hanging basket you choose should complement your landscaping, have good drainage and be at least 12 inches in diameter

Place the hanging basket in front of you on a flat surface. Pour the potting mix into the basket liner until the soil is 1/2 inch below the rim.

Dig three to four evenly spaced holes on the surface of the soil, 6 inches deep. The rule of thumb is three to four plants per every 12 inches, so if your planter is larger, you can plant more than four.

Pour 6 inches of water into a small container. Place the bottom of the bundle the strawberries came in into the container and allow it to soak for 15 minutes.

Remove the bundle from the container and wrap your hand around the center. Remove the packing material and separate the root bundle into individual strawberry plants.

Trim the roots of the strawberries to 6 inches with a pair of gardening shears. If the roots are shorter than 6 inches, you don't need to trim them.

Pick up one strawberry plant, spread its roots out slightly and place the plant into the center of the first hole until the crown of the plant is even with the surface of the soil. The crown of the plant is the point where the root system meets the stems, leaves and runners.

Gently move the displaced soil around the plant. Push the soil down around the edges until the plant stays upright. Repeat until you've planted all the strawberries.

Water the soil until it is slightly moist. Move the basket to a shaded area for a few days before moving it to its permanent spot.

Fourth, be sure to keep the plants wet and then be very patient. Don’t give up on sick looking plants, it takes a bit for them to get established. You can see our new patch above about 3 weeks after planting. They still look pretty sickly, but don’t be fooled, the root system is just getting established, give them a little care and occasional watering of fish emulsion !

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All orders placed now will not be ship until proper time of planting for each area.

Recommended planting dates for dormant bare root plants. Some areas may have different guidelines due to microclimates, mountains, shoreline. Check with your County Extension office if you are unsure.


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How far apart do I plant my plants? Gardener's Guide for Planting Small Fruit Plants .

When do I need to place my order? There is no set time you need to order however, we recommend you order as soon as possible as the later in the season you wait to order your variety may be sold out.

Can I change my order or reschedule shipment? Effective April 1st no changes can be made to orders during the week the order is to ship, typically changes can be made up to 5 da ys before the order ships.

When will you ship my order? We will ship your order when it is the appropriate time to plant in your area based on the USDA Hardiness Zone Map we will do our best to get your order shipped in a timely manner, but keep in mind it may not ship the same week as you ordered".

When will you charge my credit card? For orders $100.00 or less payment is due in full at the time of the order, or a check can be mailed within 10 days. For orders over $100.00 a 25% deposit is due at the time of order with the balance due one week prior to shipping.

Can I place an order by phone and mail a check for payment? Yes, you can call us to place a order and we will let you how much the total order is so you can mail us a check. You can also print out the Order Form located on our Home Page, complete your order and mail along with your check. NOTE: Order will be held as waiting for payment for 10 days after those 10 days order may be cancel with out further notice.

Can I visit your farm? While we are happy to have visitors to the farm. We have very little plants for fruit production as we are only propagating plants. If you would like to see our high tunnel and green house or even fields. late spring or summer would be the best time to visit. Please contact us to schedule a visit if you are interested ([email protected]).

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Please note for local customer, we do not have a retail store, however you can place your order in advance and we will have packed and ready for pickup, we ask that you give us 24 hours notice before pickup. We get many request to come and brouse our store, our facility consist of huge coolers full or dormant bare root plants, not accessible for the general public.


All orders placed now will not be ship until proper time of planting for each area.

We supply bare root strawberry plants, blueberry plants and much more for home and commercial growers. All of these berries are delicious and are packed with many vitamins that are great for the body. Our plants are viable and will provide you with many tasty fruits as long as you tend to the plant with routine care.

Our home growers receive the same quality plant as our commercial customers. It doesn't matter if you buy one or one hundred plants from us, all will be in great condition. With the right amount of sun, rain and good soil, your plant will be plentiful with fruit after maturity.

Our website gives you convenient and helpful information on the best ways to grow both strawberries and blueberries as well as all the other plants we offer. If you have any questions about our bare root strawberry plants or our blueberry plants for sale or any of the other plants we offer, please feel free to contact us.

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