What Does Bare Root Mean?

Hedge plants, trees and shrubs were traditionally produced in nurseries in the ‘open ground’. Young plants were planted out in the clay in nursery fields, and grown on to saleable size. In the dormant season in winter, when plants were effectively asleep, plants were dug up and the clay was shaken off to expose the ‘bare-root’.

A one year old seedling of, for example beech is ‘lined out’ or planted in the field in transplant or straight lines, where it has more room to develop and grow. This is dug the following winter, graded by height, and sold as a (1+1) i.e. one year old seedling growing for one year in the transplant line.

A 60-90cms (1+2) is a one year old seedling lined out for two years and measuring between 60 and 90 cms from ground level to the top of the plant.

The bare root plants could then be transported easily and inexpensively to the point of sale. The plants traditionally tied in bundles could be stored throughout the dormant season outside in trenches where the roots were kept moist and frost free. Bare root plants are cheaper to produce but can only be planted while they are dormant usually November to March. Some plants resent disturbance and cannot be produced in this way. Other methods such as growing in pots and root balling are used.