Fruit trees - why bare-root?
What is a bareroot fruit tree as compared to a potted tree? A bareroot fruit tree is dormant in the winter.. A bare root tree is field grown and has a hardiness that lends it self to being planted back in your growing space.. A bareroot tree tends to be 20% cheaper than potted.
A potted tree has been nurtured from conception in a pot, chances are its been undercover and sheltered. When you buy a potted tree it will be a intact tree.. tap roots and fibrous roots.. You pay for this extra tending and you tend to get a ‘neater’ tree.
Most growers wait until it is suitably cold to successfully ‘lift” a tree, the general rule is that the tree (or soft fruit) is devoid of leaves. The grower will then cold store the tree if the temperature is fluctuating above the magic 8 degrees, the most important element of keeping the tree alive is keeping the roots damp.. I will talk through this in a bit.. In the growers world this is usually achieved by ‘heeling in’ the tree.
So a bareroot fruit tree is only available in the winter.. The tree is stocky and cheaper.
In our helpsheet we illustrated the range of rootstocks available, certain stocks I would not buy bare rooted
like the very dwarfing M27 apple and G5 Cherry. they lack the vigour to withstand the ‘lifting’ process. The lifting process removes the majority of fibrous roots emanating from the tap root, in trees with higher vigour they can quickly recover from this once they start growing.
Key factors we consider when advising about what trees to buy..
- How big you want the tree to grow? – You don’t want a tree to crowd a garden, grow up against a building or block a path..
- How much space you have? – Referencing above – you don’t want to many trees in confined space.. maybe trained trees would work in say a narrow garden?
- How much fruit you want? – A flood of fruit may be more of a hindrance than a positive! We can spread the production over a season with different varieties.
- Can the tree can be pollinated? – Some trees need specific pollinators, go self fertile or create a orchard of supporting trees!
- What’s your soil condition like? – Some stocks hate heavy soils, a dwarfing tree will sulk in heavy conditions.
- Is the site exposed? – Some trees hate salty or high winds.
I would recommend the excellent RHS Website for the basic facts.
To sum things up –
Advantage of bareroot tree – cheaper, wider choice of varieties, trees send to be more chunky and resilient.
Disadvantage of bare root tree – Don’t always look that good as a gift devoid of pot, tree has re-grow fibrous root system.