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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 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 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.


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: 

Winter Watering on the Front Range

Our often dry, windy winters here on the Front Range can be especially tough on landscaping plants such as perennials, trees, shrubs, and lawns. Most plants need moisture throughout the winter to prevent root damage, so developing a winter watering schedule can help to protect your landscaping.

If roots are damaged over the winter, the “winter kill” is not obvious until summer. A plant or lawn may green up nicely in the spring, but in the first hot days of summer, a plant with damaged roots will struggle to take up enough water. This affects the health of the entire plant and can result in the browning of foliage (especially in evergreens and lawns). A weakened plant is more susceptible to pest and disease damage, and in severe cases, the entire plant may die from winter kill. Because our winters often lack consistent precipitation, many plants will benefit from supplemental winter watering.

What plants benefit from winter watering?

Nearly all plants will benefit from winter watering. However, the following plants are especially sensitive to drought injury throughout the winter.

  • Recent Transplants
    • Plants that are less established have smaller root systems and need more supplemental water to thrive.
    • According to Colorado State University Extension, trees take one year to establish for each inch of trunk diameter at planting.
    • Bare root plants take longer to establish than container plants.
    • Plants transplanted later in the season take longer to establish.
  • Evergreens
    • Because evergreens retain their needles, they still transpire throughout the winter. Without adequate soil moisture to replace this water loss, evergreens are at a higher risk for winter burn.
    • Evergreens at highest risk include arborvitae, boxwood, fir, Manhattan euonymus, non-native pines, Oregon grape-holly, spruce, and yew.
    • To help limit desiccation, some evergreens can be treated with a product such as Wilt Pruf® or Bonide Wilt-Stop®. Read the product label for uses and instructions.
  • Deciduous Trees and Shrubs with shallow root systems
    • Woody plants with shallow root systems are more likely to dry out because they cannot pull water from deep in the ground.
    • These include alders, European white and paper birches, dogwoods, hornbeams, lindens, mountain ashes, willows and several varieties of maple including Norway, silver, red, Rocky Mountain, and hybrid maples.
  • Herbaceous Perennials and Ground Covers
    • Even established perennials and ground covers can suffer from winter kill, especially those without wind protection and those with south or west exposures that experience more freezing and thawing.
  • Lawns
    • Newly established lawns are especially at risk for winter kill as well as those with south or west exposures.
When should I winter water?

Most plants will benefit from winter watering from October through March.

According to Colorado State University Extension, water one to two times per month during dry periods without snow cover. Windy or sunny sites (those with south or west exposures) dry out quicker and will require more water.

Only water when air temperatures are above 40°F and the soil is not frozen or covered in snow.

Water mid-day or earlier to ensure the water has time to fully soak in before freezing at night. Test soil moisture before watering by inserting a probe or screwdriver into the soil. If the screwdriver goes in easily, watering is not necessary. However, if it is difficult to push the screwdriver in after a few inches, watering is necessary.

What is the best way to apply water during winter?

While water can be applied by hand, typically it is most efficient to water with a soaker hose, drip hose or sprinkler that attaches to a hose. (Do not use an in-ground sprinkler system as these should stay winterized until spring.)

Trees can also be watered using a deep-root fork or needle that is inserted no deeper than eight inches into the soil in multiple locations throughout the dripline and outside of it. As with watering in the summer, it is important to allow water to slowly soak into the soil. This results in deeper penetration and prevents runoff. For trees, water should penetrate to a depth of 12 inches.

How much water do my plants need?

Mulch is crucial to helping soil retain moisture. The following recommendations assume that all plants have at least two inches of mulch. Keep in mind that most sprinklers deliver approximately 2 gallons of water per minute.


  • Apply at least 10 gallons of water for each diameter inch of the tree
  • Water once a month (twice a month for newly planted trees)
  • Water from the edge of the branches halfway to the trunk, and then two to three times that distance from the edge of the branches outward


  • Newly Planted: Apply at least 5 gallons of water twice a month
  • Small, established (less than 3 feet tall): Apply at least 3 gallons of water once a month
  • Large, established (more than 6 feet tall): Apply at least 10 gallons of water once a month
  • Water within the dripline and around the base

Herbaceous Perennials

  • Water requirements vary based on level of establishment and size of the plant
  • As a general guideline, apply half the amount of water that would be applied in a typical summer watering session once a month


  • Water lawns if there has been no precipitation for three weeks and the lawn has a south or west exposure
  • Apply half the amount of water that would be applied in a typical summer watering session

Rick’s Deer Resistant Plant List

Image of a deer in a garden

A Note About Deer Resistant Plants

The plants listed here are not guaranteed to be deer resistant. This is merely a guide of what deer generally do not eat. If they are hungry enough, they will eat just about anything, and it can vary from one side of town to the other.

Anything marked with a * indicates plants are browsed occasionally, but typically not destroyed.

The best protection against deer damage is an eight-foot-high fence.


Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa)

Baby’s Breath (Gypsophilia paniculata)

Basket of Gold (Alyssum saxatile)*

Bee Balm (Monarda)

Bergenia (Bergenia)

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)

Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

Blue Star (Amsonia)

Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias)

Cacti (Cacti: var genera & ssp.)

Catmint (Nepeta)

Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata)

Coreopsis (Coreopsis)*

Cranesbill, Wild Geranium (Geranium ssp.)*

Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

Daffodils (Narcissus ssp.)*

Delphinium (Delphinium ssp.)*

Dotted Gayfeather (Liatris punctata)

Dwarf Leadplant (Amorpha)

Globe Thistle (Echinops ssp.)

Euphorbia (Euphorbia ssp.)

False Forget-Me-Not (Brunnera macrophylla)

Flax (Linum ssp.)*

Forget-Me-Not (Mertensia ssp.)

Foxglove (Digitalis)

Golden Banner (Thermopsis ssp.)

Goldenrod (Solidago ssp.)

Hummingbird Plant (Zauschneria)

Hyssop (Agastache)

Iris (Iris ssp.)*

Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum)

Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-fernina)

Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla)

Lamb’s Ear (Stachys)

Larkspur (Consolida)

Lavender (Lavandula ssp.)

Leadplant (Amorpha canescens)

Lenten Rose (Helleborus ssp.)

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lupine (Lupinus)*

Mexican Hat Coneflower (Ratibida columnifera)

Monkshood (Aconitum)

Penstemon (Penstemon ssp.)*

Peony (Paeonia ssp.)

Poker Plant (Kniphofia ssp.)

Poppy, esp. Oriental (Papaver)*

Prairie Zinnia (Zinnia grandiflora)

Prickly Pear (Opuntia ssp.)

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea)

Rose Champion (Lychnis)

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)*

Santolina (Santolia ssp.)

Sedum (Sedum ssp.)

Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum ssp.)*

Silver Nettle (Lamium)

Sneezeweed (Helenium)

Snowdrops (Galanthus ssp.)

Snow-in-Summer (Cerastium tomentosum)

Snow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata)

Soapwort (Saponaria ssp.)

Speedwell (Creeping veronica)

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum)

Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)*

Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Wormwood (Artemisia)

Yarrows (Achillea ssp.)

Yucca (flowers eaten) (Yucca ssp.)

Bushes & Shrubs

Buffaloberry, Silver (Sheperdia argentea)

Burning Bush (Euonymus)*

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)*

Cliff Rose (Cowania neo-mexicana)

Coralberry, Hancock (Symphoricarpos x ‘Hancock’)

Currant, Alpine (Ribes aplinum)

Currant, Golden (Ribes aureum)*


Dogwood, Redtwig (Cornus stolonifera)*

Euonymus, Winged (Euonymus alatus)

Fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium)

Grapeholly, Oregon (Mahonia aquifolium)

Lilacs (Syringa ssp.)*

Mahonia, Creeping (Mahonia repens)

Mountain Mahagony, Curl-leaf (Cercocarpus ledifolius)

Ninebark, El Diablo (Physocarpus monogynus)*

Oak, Gambel’s (Quercus gambelii)

Plum, Wild (Prunus americana)

Potentilla (Potentilla ssp.)

Pyracantha (Pyracantha ssp.)

Quince (Chaenomeles ssp.)

Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus ssp.)

Raspberry, Boulder (Rubus deliciosus)

Rose, Austrian Copper (Rosa foetida ‘bicolor’)

Rose, Persian Yellow (Rosa foetida ‘persiana’)

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)*

Sage, Big Western (Artemisia tridentata)*

Saltbush, Four-wing (Atriplex canescens)

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)

Spirea, Anthony Waterer (Spirea ‘anthony waterer’)

Spirea, Bluemist (Caryopteris incana)

Spirea, Rock (Holodiscus dumosus)

Spirea, VanHoutte (Spiraea x vanhouttei)

Sumac, Fragrant (Rhus trilobata)*

Vines & Groundcover

Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

Clematis, Golden Tiara (Clematis tangutica)

Clematis, Sweet Autumn (Clematis paniculata)

Clematis, Western White (Clematis ligusticifolia)

English Ivy (Hedera Helix)

Honeysuckle, Tatarian (Lonicera tatarica)

Iceplant (Delosperma)*

Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

Pussytoes (Antennaria speciosa)

Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)






Cosmos (Cosmos)


Marigold (Tagetes)

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum)

Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus)



Snapdragon (Antirrhinum)

Tobacco Flower (Nicotiana)




Blue Fescue (Festuca)

Feather Reed (Calamagrostis)

Fountain Grass (Pennisetum)

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium)

Maiden Grass (Miscanthus)

Quaking Grass (Briza)

Sedge (Carex)

Switch Grass (Panicum)

Bulbs – Fall Planting

Allium (Alluim)

Fritillaria (Fritillaria)

Grape Hyacinth (Muscari)

Hyacinth (Hyacinthus)

Daffodil (Narcissus)

Bulbs – Spring Planting

Calla Lily (Zantedschia aethiopica)

Canna Lily (Canna)

Dahlia (Dahlia)

Dwarf Iris (Iris reticulata)

Gladiolus (Gladiolus)

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits

Allium – Chives, Onions, Leeks, Garlic




Coriander (Cilantro)






Globe Artichoke

Lemon Balm








Salvia (cooking sage)


Squash Thyme


Cherry, Nanking (Prunus tomentosum)

Fir, Concolor (Abies concolor)

Fir, Douglas (Pseudotsuga taxifolia)

Hackberry, Common (Celtis occidentalis)

Hawthorn (Crateagus spp)

Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var.)

Juniper, Common (Juniperus communis)

Maple, Rocky Mountain (Acer glabrum)

Pine, Lodgepole (Pinus contorta)

Pine, Pinon (Pinus edulis)

Russian Olive (seeds eaten) (Elaeagnus angustifolia)

Spruce, Colorado (Picea pungens)