Winter is a great time for planting. Getting plants in the ground at this time of year gives trees plenty of time to establish before the hot summer and the long awaited bare rooted plants are available. During winter, trees that have been field grown are dug up when they're dormant, and sold, ready for planting. Deciduous bare-rooted fruit and ornamentals trees are only available in winter - June, July and August. With so many new and dwarf varieties of bare rooted trees available, there is no excuse not to get planting.
See Heynes list for varieties of Bare-root Fruit and Ornamental.
When selecting a bare rooted plant, try to ensure there is no obvious physical damage and look for a good, even branch structure. As most fruit and ornamental trees in nursery are grafted also look for a strong graft. Don’t leave the trees sitting round for extended period of time, and remember the roots of these plants need to stay moist from the point when dug out of the ground until planting time. In Australian bare root trees should be planted over the June to September months and should be in the ground by the time trees bring to “shoot”.
PLANTING BARE ROOT TREES
At planting time it is recommend to prune, because when the trees are dug, the roots are pruned, and for a balanced tree the tops should be pruned to balance the root size. Trees can be cut back to about 1/3 in an even manner to an outwards face bud, use clean secateurs. To encourage a nice branching habit or vase shape for fruit trees remove the leader.
Dig a hole around twice as wide as the root ball. To allow the trees roots to spread the inside of the hole should have nice, rough edges, to ensure the effective movement of water and air. Thoroughly mix the soil from the hold with plenty of gypsum and some SA compost, then put a good shovel of gypsum into the bottom of the hole and flock in through.Remove any grass within a meter circular area.
Before planting remove any diseased, or even damaged, roots. Spread the roots out in a natural position. It can help to mound a pile of soil at the base to support the root system. Plant the tree at the same level as when it was originally in the ground, at the base. So to help minimize the risk of disease, issues like collar rot. The graft/bud should be above the soil level, the exception bring lilacs.
Back fill the hole, lightly firm the soil, make a well around the base of tree and water in. You’ve planted a bare root tree!
Water as needed however do not overwater. Consistent watering is important in the dry months. No need to fertilise until the tree starts growing in spring. (If you feel inclined to, add a small amount of fertilise at time of planting).
If the tree is bit loose or has been planted in high wind area, loosely stake it until the tree is established. Place two stakes in the ground, one both side of the tree well away the root zone and loosely tie the tree to the stakes with a soft tie around the trunk of the tree.