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Bare Root Fruit Trees

What are bare root trees?

Bare root trees are harvested from their growing beds in the late fall, and the soil is removed from their roots. They are kept in cold storage over the winter, and planted before they break dormancy in the spring.

What are the advantages of planting bare root trees?

Improved Tree Health

Bare root trees are not grown in a container. This eliminates the industry-wide problems of circling and girdling roots that develop in container-grown stock, a major threat to even healthy-looking plants. Also, since bare root trees are planted early in the spring before they leaf out, the trees get a head start on developing strong root systems in the native soil before they start producing leaves, flowers, and fruit.

Light Weight & Reduced Environmental Impact

Bare root trees are much lighter when shipped. This saves on freight and fuel and makes them easier to maneuver while planting.

More Cost Effective

Shipping bare root trees is much less expensive, and that savings is passed directly to the customer. Our trees will be comparable in size to a #5 container tree, but for half the price! (All trees will be a minimum of 5/8th inch caliper.)

We are excited to offer bare root fruit trees at Rick’s this spring! We are working hard to bring you the best fruit trees possible.

Excellent Quality

The bare root fruit trees we are selling will be of superior quality! We chose to source these trees specifically from growers who supply professional orchardists. Van Well Nursery is based in Washington state and works with several orchards in the Palisade, Colorado area. They have an excellent reputation among professional growers, and we’re excited to offer that level of quality in Colorado Springs! We have consulted with Van Well to bring you the best in bare root fruit trees for our local climate.

Exceptional Rootstock

Since their seed is not true to type, fruit trees are produced from cuttings. Many species of apples, pears, and plums do not root easily from cuttings, so they are grafted onto rootstock grown specifically for this purpose, a practice dating back over 2,000 years.

When purchasing any fruit tree, it is important to inquire about the quality of the rootstock. For our bare root trees, all apples are grafted onto EMLA 7 rootstock. This rootstock is semi-dwarfing, meaning each variety will grow about 50-60% smaller than typical, which is perfect for backyard orchards. This rootstock was chosen for its cold hardiness and extreme resistance to fireblight. The plums are grafted onto a peach seedling rootstock.

Interesting Varieties

This year, Rick’s will have eight kinds of apples and two kinds of plums to choose from. We will have heritage apples like Macoun and Yellow Newton, and some new arrivals like Ambrosia and Gale Gala. We even have an apple variety that’s used for cider, Yarlington Mill, which arose from a chance seedling discovered in 1898! The plum varieties are both European plums and are very cold hardy.

It should be noted that all apples need another apple (or fruit-bearing crabapple) of a different variety to cross-pollinate. Both types of plums that we carry are semi self-fruitful, but they will bear a heavier crop with a different plum cultivar nearby to cross-pollinate. The two plum varieties we will be carrying will cross-pollinate with each other very nicely. For fruit trees to cross-pollinate, they should be planted within 100 feet of each other.

Cost and Availability

Each bare root tree will be $39.99 and will be sold on a first come, first served basis.

The trees will be arriving in early March, weather permitting. We will continue to sell the bare root trees until they start to break bud, most likely in early April. 

If you would like to be notified when the bare root trees become available, please email us at info@ricksgarden.com or call the store at (719) 632-8491 to be put on our notification list.

Timing and Handling

Timing is important when purchasing and planting bare root fruit trees. Bare root trees can only be planted in the early spring. Bare root trees that are planted after they leaf out have a much lower survival rate.

Proper handling is crucial for bare root stock. Roots should never be allowed to dry out – even five minutes of sun exposure on a warm day can do life-threatening damage to the tree. When you purchase a bare root tree from Rick’s, you will be provided with a burlap sack and wet mulch (or other means) to protect the roots during transportation. 

The tree should be planted as soon as you get home from the nursery. If you will not be able to plant the tree immediately, please talk to our nursery staff so they can advise you on proper storage procedures.

Planting

Planting bare root trees is very similar to planting trees that have been grown in containers. The most important thing is to not plant too deep; you should have a structural root within the first one to two inches of soil. Amend soil to a maximum ratio of one part compost to four parts native soil. Cover the planting area with three inches of mulch, taking care to not contact the trunk. Staking may be necessary depending on root spread, soil type, and wind exposure.

Protection

Young trees that are small in diameter are the perfect size for deer to rub their antlers on. If deer graze in your neighborhood, cage trees immediately after planting. Trees left unprotected for even one night can be terminally damaged by deer.

For additional tree planting resources, please visit:

Tree & Shrub Planting Guide by Rick’s Garden Center:

The Science of Planting Trees by CSU Extension: https://cmg.extension.colostate.edu/Gardennotes/633.pdf 

Fall Perennial Planting

Planting in the fall can save you a lot of money while also giving plants a jump start next spring! Plants that establish strong roots during the fall will come back bigger and stronger in the spring time.

However, fall planting requires careful consideration and attention to detail from the gardener. The trick is to give fall plantings a little extra care to help them get established before the really cold weather sets in.

Here are four things you can do to help your plants get established:

Soil Inoculant

At the time of planting, be sure to use an inoculant specifically formulated for perennials, trees and shrubs. These products will help the plant to start establishing roots before all of the foliage dies back. We recommend using an inoculant over a root stimulator this late in the season so you can avoid giving any extra nitrogen to the plant before it goes in to dormancy.

Mulch

Mulch helps to retain soil moisture while also protecting roots from sudden changes in temperature. We recommend using 3″ of a good quality mulch to keep plants protected. Make sure that mulch does not contact the bark of woody perennials.

Protect Plants from Early Freezes

Keep an eye on the weather and cover the plants when the temperatures dip below freezing throughout September and October. This is most important for perennials. Trees do not need to be blanketed, but bark wrap should be used on all young trees to protect the trunks from splitting during our freezing and thawing cycles. When covering perennials, use heavy fabric or plastic and prop it up so that it is close to, but does not touch the plant (Plastic that touches the plant during a freeze can actually do more damage.) Be sure the covering goes all the way to the ground and cover the edges with soil or mulch so that it will trap heat from the soil.

Water

To support adequate root growth, plants will need to be watered regularly in the fall. Keep your soil evenly moist, but not soggy, through the fall time. Remember to monitor your plants regularly! A plant that crisps up due to lack of water in the fall time is not likely to survive the winter. When the plant goes dormant, they will require less frequent watering, but will also need to be watered throughout the winter. Remember that desiccation is the result of cold weather plus dry soil. For more details on winter watering, visit our Blog.


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