What to Expect: Bare Root vs Container

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What to Expect: Bare Root vs Container

Why Some Plants Arrive Bare Root While Others are in Containers

When you receive plants in the mail, you might notice that some arrive with their roots bare and exposed, without any soil. This might seem unusual, especially if you’re new to gardening. However, there are significant advantages to receiving plants in this form, particularly for perennials like roses and other robust plants.

bundles of bare root plantsbundles of bare root plants

Advantages of Bare Root Plants

Healthier Transportation: Bare root plants are typically shipped during dormancy. Without soil, these plants are lighter and easier to transport, reducing shipping costs and the environmental impact associated with heavier loads. This method also minimizes the risk of spreading soil-borne diseases and invasive pests.

Stronger Start: Bare root plants tend to adjust more quickly to their new environment once planted. With roots that have not been confined to a container, these plants spread out more efficiently and establish a robust root system faster in your garden soil.

Economical and Environmentally Friendly: With no need for plastic containers, bare root plants are an environmentally friendly choice. This method reduces plastic waste and the energy used in producing and recycling containers. Moreover, they are often more affordable due to lower shipping and production costs.

Controlled Planting and Growth: When you receive a bare root plant, you can observe the health and structure of the root system before planting. This visibility allows for better initial placement and care, leading to healthier growth and development.

young plants in small containersyoung plants in small containers

Why Some Plants are Shipped in Containers

While bare root is beneficial in many cases, some plants fare better when shipped in containers. This is particularly true for delicate plants that require more stable conditions:

Protection for Delicate Species: Young, tender plants and some exotic species are too delicate to withstand the bare root shipping process. Containers offer protection, helping maintain moisture and shield the roots from damage during transportation.

Immediate Display: Container plants are often closer to blooming or are already in bloom, making them ideal for immediate ornamental use in your garden. This is particularly appealing for gardeners preparing for the upcoming season or filling gaps in their garden landscapes.

Extended Planting Window: Unlike bare root plants, which should be planted during their dormancy period, container plants can be planted throughout the growing season as long as they are adequately cared for during the transition.

Choosing the Right Type for Your Garden

Deciding whether to go for bare root or container plants often depends on the plant species, your climate, the season, and your immediate gardening needs. For large, resilient perennials, bare root options provide an excellent start with vigorous growth. For more sensitive or seasonal displays, container plants may offer the immediacy and convenience you need.

Understanding these differences can help you make informed choices that enhance your garden's health and beauty, contributing to a more successful and satisfying gardening experience.