Planting Bare Root Perennials
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Most perennials arent picky about planting times. They can be planted
in the fall or the spring, as long as they are not in a period of active growth.
Generally, its best to plant spring-flowering perennials in the fall, and late
summer to fall bloomers in the spring. You may find the best selection for variety and
quality at the nursery in the late summer or early fall. Save these in sheltered area and
keep them watered until the weather cools.
Perennials are generally sold in pots or bare-root. Here are the steps to follow when
planting a bare root perennial:
- Remove the plant from its package, and carefully remove all loose packing material (peat
moss and sawdust are commonly used).
- Soak the roots in a bucket of water for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Examine the root system, and trim away any rotted, moldy, broken or elongated roots with
a sharp knife of your pruning shears.
- Dig a hole deep and wide enough to allow the roots to fan out from the crown at about 450
angle. It sometimes helps to make a cone-shaped mound of soil in the bottom of the hole
and spread the roots around it. Remember, the crown of most perennials should be roughly
level with the surrounding ground.
- Cover the roots with soil and press down firmly. Make sure all the roots
especially those under the crownare in contact with soil.
- Water the plant well and add a layer of mulch. If youre planting in the spring and
the weather turns unseasonably warm and sunny (as it sometimes does in the Kansas City
area), provide the new plant with some protective covering such as a box, a plastic
laundry basket until the roots become established.
By following these steps your perennials should get off to a good start.
Dennis Patton, DPatton@oznet.ksu.edu
County Extension Agent, Horticulture
Johnson County, Kansas
Kansas State University Research and Extension