It’s not too late to plant bare root. Except plums which emerge from dormancy early, most fruit and shade trees as well as shrubs are still available bare root. Good choices include Angel pomegranate and Texas scarlet flowering quince. Lavender Lady lilac would bring delicious fragrance to the garden. How about adding an accent tree like a Echtermeyer weeping crabapple with purple-red blooms? The birds love the wine red fruit that hand on the tree during the winter. Forest Pansy redbud also look terrific in the garden. Their burgundy heart shaped leaves turn orange in the fall are an added bonus after bright magenta spring flowers.
If you like unusual additions to your flower arrangements, consider planting French Pink pussy willow. Long silvery catkins covered with a showy pink cap are very colorful in winter before the plant leafs out.
Saturn flowering and fruiting peach continues to be one of the most popular peaches. You can’t beat the excellent quality fruit and the massive large, double pink blossoms are breathtaking.
A small cherry that is easily protected from the birds is . You can have large, dark red, sweet cherries when the tree is still quite young and it’s a good pollinizer for all sweet cherries.
So whether it’s something edible or an ornamental tree or shrub you’re interested in, plant one now while they are still bare root and so affordable.
Bareroot season is here. This is the time that you can add to your garden inexpensively. Bare root plants are carefully dug up at growing grounds with their roots bare, meaning that most of the dirt around the roots has been removed. One of the primary advantages of bare root plants is that they tend to have an extensive, well developed root system as a result of being allowed to develop normally. When the trees are handled well, the root system is left intact, and the tree, shrub, vine or berry will have a better chance of rooting well and surviving when planted. Bare roots don’t have to adapt to any differences between container soil and the soil in your garden. They are also cheaper to ship because the lack of a dirt ball makes them much lighter and this lightness makes them easier to handle and plant, too.
You might be interested mainly in growing ornamental plants like shade trees or a flowering plum, cherry or crabapple. Maybe you want another fragrant lilac to cut for bouquets or a purple wisteria vine to cover the arbor. Planting something new while it’s available in bareroot is one of the easiest things you’ll ever do in the garden.
If growing something to eat is your goal, think of the first fruit that comes to mind. This is the tree you should start with. Already have a few fruit trees but want to add more? Why not add another variety this year that ripens later so that you extend the harvest season throughout the summer? It’s no fun when everything ripens at the same time and you become a slave to the garden- picking, canning, drying, cooking, bribing the kids to take extras to the neighbors.
Remember that fruit trees need at least 6-8 hours of full sun during the growing season. Don’t worry if you don’t have much sun in the winter time, the trees are dormant then anyway. Citrus trees, however, are green year round and never lose their leaves so you won’t find a bareroot lemon tree for this reason.
What fruit tree varieties can you grow here in the mountains? Well, almost everything. We have well over 500 per winter. Most of us get 700-900 hours. What does that mean? Well, many fruit trees, lilacs, and peonies need a certain number of hours during dormancy where the temperature is 45 degrees or less. You can give a plant more cold in the winter and it’ll like that just fine but not less. Those in Santa Cruz can grow Fuji apples, for instance, but not Red Delicious. We can grow both.
What else can you add to your garden to eat? Blueberries offer more than yummy berries to eat. They make beautiful hedges 4-6 ft tall with gorgeous fall color. They are self fertile but it you plant two types like a Berkeley, Bluecrop or Blueray together you get even more fruit. Other edibles that are available now are asparagus, artichokes, strawberries, grapes, blackberries, boysenberries and raspberries.
Don’t miss this opportunity to add to your garden’s bounty.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how to get a bare root plant off to a good start in your garden. Over the years I’ve planted Floribunda crabapple, Autumnalis flowering cherry, Eastern redbud, Purple Pony and Blireiana flowering plums and Jacquemonti birch all from bare root. They’re soooo easy to plant this way. If I had more roomand sun these are some of my favorite trees that I’d add to my own garden this year.
If you want a tree that’s both highly ornamental and produces great tasting fruit as well, try Saturn flowering and fruiting peach. The fruit is large, yellow, freestone and delicious. As if mouth-watering flavor isn’t enough the tree produces masses of large, double, pink flowers making a spectacular show in the spring that rivals the most ornamental cherry tree.
I love flowering crabapples not only for their spring blossoms but for the small fruits that attract birds in the fall and winter and Prairifire is one of the best. Red buds open to bright pinkish red single flowers that cover the 20 foot tall tree. Purple foliage follows which turns bronze green by summer. Fruit is deep red, only 1/4" in size, and hangs well into winter on the tree. This crabapple has excellent disease resistance to scab, cedar-apple rust, mildew and fireblight which sometimes plagues some crabapples. It would make an outstanding ornamental tree in your garden.
I eat a lot of almonds. One handfull is only 160 calories and is an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium and a good source of fiber and phosphorus as well as protein, potassium, calcium and iron. I’d plant a compact Garden Prince almond if I had just a little more sun. They grow to 10-12 feet and can be pruned easily to 8 feet. Soft-shelled, good quality sweet kernels ripen in late September to early October on self-fertile trees that set large clusters at a young age. Dense, attractive foliage follows showy pink blossoms.
Looking for a tree to provide shade for the patio table? How about a drought tolerant Golden honeylocust? Fast growing to 40 feet tall with a 35 foot spread this beautiful tree’s leaves emerge a bright, golden yellow at the tips contrasting with the deep green inner foliage making it look like a flowering tree bursting with bloom. Seedless and thornless, this tree has spreading arching branches and casts filtered shade, allowing growth of lawn or other plants beneath the tree’s canopy. It’s tolerant of acid or alkaline soils, drought, cold, heat, and wind.
Another good shade tree to consider is the Golden Rain tree. Enormous panicles of golden yellow flowers drape from the branches in the summer when you spend more time outdoors. Fat, papery fruit capsules resembling little Japanese lanterns last well into autumn. Growing about 30 feet tall, open branching casts light shade underneath, perfect for a hammock on the lawn but this tree would also be a good patio or street tree. Very adaptable to different soils as long as drainage is good.
This last suggestion is just plain fun. If you have the room and enjoy putting together flower arrangements, why not plant a ? Long silvery catkins covered with pink caps are very showy in the winter when the plant is dormant. The mature height is 15 feet tall with a 10-15 foot spread but can be kept to shrub size by cutting to the ground every few years.
Remember that while these trees and also the pussy willow need six hours or more of sun during the growing season they are dormant in winter and don’t mind being in shade for that part of the year. So if you live where winter sun is scarce you can still grow edibles and ornamentals successfully.
At first glance, bare root trees, shrubs , vines and berries don’t look very inspiring. It’s hard to imagine that those dormant branches harbor a bounty of fruits, flowers and vegetables. It can all be yours, however, by planting from bare root stock now available in nurseries.
What exactly are bare root plants and why do they make a good choice when you want to add to your garden? Bare root plants are carefully dug up at growing grounds with their roots bare, meaning that most of the dirt around the roots has been removed. One of the largest growers harvests 2 million bare root plants i
n a 30 day period, usually in December.
One of the primary advantages of bare root plants is that they tend to have an extensive, well developed root system as a result of being allowed to develop normally. When the trees are handled well, the root system is left intact, and the tree, shrub, vine or berry will have a better chance of rooting well and surviving when planted. Bare roots don’t have to adapt to any differences between container soil and your garden’s. Bare root trees are also cheaper to ship because the lack of a dirt ball makes them much lighter, and this lightness makes them easier to handle, too.
Shop for your plants in January or February while they are still dormant. Once leaves emerge or flower buds start to swell your tree or shrub’s roots have already started growing and they won’t do as well. With this in mind be wary of spring sale bareroot stock. Also trees or shrubs in packages may have had their roots pruned to fit inside or the packaging material may have dried out or become soggy. Better to see the roots for yourself before you bring your new addition home.
The age of bare root trees and shrubs varies. Generally they are between a two and three years old. You will not be able to see much when you purchase a bare root plant, as it will be leafless since it is in a dormant state, but in the spring, it will come to life and transform the garden.
There are several steps to planting bare root trees. It’s important to plant your new arrival soon after you bring it home to insure the roots do not dry out. If you’re unable to plant right away, lay it down and cover with moist soil or compost. When you’re ready to plant, first trim any roots that are broken with sharp pruners. Broken roots can rot but cleanly cut ones will heal and grow. Then soak the plant in a tub of water for an hour , while you prepare the soil for planting. Loosen the soil in a wide radius around the area where you plan to plant. Then, dig a big hole much larger than the root ball of the plant and as deep as needed to accommodate the roots so that the roots will have room to stretch out, rather than being compressed in the planting process.
Next, wrangle an assistant if you are planting a large tree, shrub or vine like a wisteria. While one of you holds the plant in the hole, making sure that if it has a graft this is above the level or the soil. The other should gently shovel in dirt, trying not to pack it down too hard. You want the soil to be loose enough to filter down among the roots. Make sure that the assistant holds the tree straight and in such a way that the roots are suspended in the hole, rather than pressed against the bottom. If your soil is extremely sandy or clayey amend it with 20% compost.
As you shovel in soil, make sure that the roots are spread well apart. Fill the hole halfway, gently shake the plant up and down to let soil sift down, then tamp lightly and fill the rest of the hole. The soil should fill in the air spaces around the roots and when you water it in the first time, use lots of water to eliminate the air pockets and settle the soil. Making a watering ring around the plant makes watering easier and you’re assured that the root zone is thoroughly watered. When the planting is finished, mulch the tree, leaving a few inches of unmulched soil around the trunk. Don’t water again until the soil is dry an inch or two down. Winter rains hopefully will take care of this for you for a long time. Dormant plants need much less water than actively growing ones and their roots develop poorly in soggy soil.
Only stake your new tree if you live in a windy area. A trunk will attain a larger diameter if it’s allowed to move slighly in the wind. Usually it’s not necessary to prune a young tree much while it is trying to grow new roots. Trimming a long branch or leader by a third is OK if necessary. You can start limbing up a shade tree after a couple of years if you wish.
There are many fruiting , flowering and shade trees to choose from. Also shrubs like roses, lilacs and pussy willows are available bare root. Wisteria vines are especially easy to plant bare root as are . Don’t miss this opportunity to add to your garden’s bounty.