Ask An Arborist Tree Care Tree Planting

Ask an Arborist: How do I Plant Bare-root Trees?

By Emily Allgood | November 25, 2016

Ask an Arborist is a video series that gives viewers insider knowledge on all things trees. Each month our arborists answer YOUR questions. This month’s question: How do I Plant Bare-root Trees?

Visit Tree Planting & Care for more resources or print out the step-by-step tree planting instructions.

Tweet us your tree question @arborday with #AskAnArborist to learn more.

Watch last month’s Ask an Arborist here!

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Patricia Klawinski December 6, 2016 at 1:03 am

    I donated to your foundation in July. I was to receive 10 flowering trees. the baby trees arrived last week. It is too late to plant them now in the snow! I hate to just throw them away.. Why did you send them so late in the year?
    what can i do with them?

  • Reply Mary Allen December 12, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Hi Patricia,

    Thank you so much for your recent donation.

    In regards to your ten flowering trees, unless your area has been receiving consistently colder temperatures (in the 20’s and 30’s), you are certainly good to plant your flowering trees. Every fall season, we start shipping our trees after they have gone through two to three hard frosts, allowing them to become dormant (a sleep-like state) and prepared to withstand shipping, as well as the cold winter conditions.

    If at this point you are unable to plant your trees, we will replace them at no charge during our spring shipping season. Simply call one of our Member Services representatives toll free at 888-448-7337, Monday through Friday, 8am to 7pm.

    Thank you for your commitment to a greener, healthier world.

    Arbor Day Foundation

  • Reply th olson January 15, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Please advise what trees do or do not do well near a 20 year old Black Walnut. How far away doe one have to plant for it not to be affected by the jeglum produced by the walnut. Lovely tree but hard on my fruit trees. Thanks.

    • Reply Mary Allen January 17, 2017 at 11:28 am


      Thank you for contacting the Arbor Day Foundation.

      Black walnut trees can be both beneficial and harmful, so careful consideration will allow landscaping with them. Native to the eastern United States, the Black Walnut is highly valued for its wood and nuts. The nuts are also an important source of food for many wildlife species.

      On the other hand, all parts of the tree contain a chemical called juglone. Juglone can be toxic to certain plants growing nearby. Black walnut toxicity can cause a range of symptoms from yellow leaves, to wilting or even plant death. There are also many plants tolerant of juglone that can be grown around Black Walnut trees.

      A great list of sensitive/tolerant plants can be found at:

      I hope this answers your question and please let me know if I can be of any further service.

      Arbor Day Foundation

  • Reply Janet O'Connell February 23, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    How deep should a new tree be planted? We had dogwood trees planted 4 years ago. Hired an arborist to prune the dogwoods. He told us that the trees had been planted too deeply, and to scrape the excess soil from the base of the trees so that the roots could breath better. Does that make sense to the experts?

    • Reply Mary Allen February 27, 2017 at 10:04 am

      Hello Janet,

      When planting bare root trees, we recommend digging a hole wider than seems necessary, allowing the roots to grow outward without crowding. As well, planting the trees as deep as the roots is usually advised. For more planting information on bare root seedlings, please visit the URL below from our Arbor Day Foundation website:

      Arbor Day Foundation

  • Reply Joey Sais March 1, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Hi, I have ordered trees from you and have bought them here at local nurseries as tall as 6ft. Everything I plant I manage to kill. 🙁 I don’t understand. I follow the instructions but I am doing the wrong things. How is it other people walk into the woods plant a baby tree walk away and in a couple years it is a big healthy tree? I would love to have a few thriving fruit trees. I have seven acres, plenty of water, lots of sunshine. My yard is full of cottonwoods, aspen, Russian olive, one scraggly weeping willow, and a black walnut. I want to try some more but its getting so sad.

    • Reply Mary Allen March 1, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      Hello Joey,

      We certainly want your planting experience to be successful, which is why we offer a free replacement should the stock not make it. It’s probably not your planting skills that’s killing the trees. Based on your description, it could be the soil not being optimal (we’d recommend a PH test), or the fact you have a black walnut near (they are toxic to many trees). We’d recommend getting in touch with an arborist or master gardener in your area to assess the situation further.

      Arbor Day Foundation

  • Reply Laura Lemley May 23, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Hi. I just received my bare root red bud trees and will be going out of town for several days so I will have to store them but my question is if I can plant them in pots to grow out since I do not have a large garden area to plant directly in the ground until they are ready to transplant into a permanent place.

    Thank you.

  • Reply Denise November 30, 2017 at 2:55 am

    I received my evergreen bare root trees and we have already had several weeks of temperatures in the single digits at night. We have had snow on the ground since the weekend of Halloween. Is it safe to keep them in a pail and water to prevent the roots from drying out or would it be better to plant them temporarily in a pot till spring? I live in Zone 3.
    I’ve always been very pleased with my plants-they have always been healthy upon arrival and have survived, except for the deer! Please advise.

    • Reply Christine Hutfles November 30, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      Hi Denise,

      We are sorry to hear your trees arrived when it was too cold in your area. We would recommend leaving the trees submerged in water for only 4-6 hours. If you are unable to plant the trees in the ground (because the ground is frozen) we would recommend planting them in a pot until you’re able to transplant in the spring. We’d recommend leaving the pot in a colder location to keep the trees dormant. Like in a shed, garage, or near the home.

      We hope the evergreens are successful for you!

  • Reply Denise November 30, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Our garage is unheated and outside temperatures can drop to below 40 degrees, will it be safe to place there? Thanks!

  • Leave a Reply to Mary Allen Cancel Reply