Bare root trees — trees sans soil around their root system — are ideal for gardeners seeking economical landscaping choices. The lack of soil makes excavating, transporting, and storing easier, significantly reducing the cost for putting up a windbreak or a privacy hedge. Plus, they cut down on the growth time required for starting from seeds while making girdled roots unlikely — a scenario more common in potted trees. But the bareness also means that the roots are exposed to several environmental stressors, such as heat, drying winds, and cold. So, ensuring the roots establish themselves fully is pivotal for the bare root tree to thrive. To do so, dig out a hole wider than the root system’s current reach so the roots can spread out unhindered. Place the bare root tree no deeper than its root flare — the point where the tree’s trunk begins opening out to roots. Don’t mistake it for the scar from a graft union (joining of the scion and the root), usually found 1 to 3 inches atop the root flare. This will allow the roots to breathe and ease poor drainage issues. It’s best to plant dormant trees, without buds and leaves. In evergreens, signs of dormancy include the top foliage turning tan. The successful establishment of bare root trees depends heavily on their condition. While they don’t come balled and burlapped, their roots are covered in sphagnum moss or hydrogel for protection. But the material shouldn’t be too wet or drippy, or it’ll cause premature rotting. Ideally, the roots should be thick, dense, and firm, with no signs of frost or mold damage — although you should prune dead or damaged roots before planting. The point is not to overdo it, as trees need a good root system to flourish. If the trees do have buds, ensure they’re green and sturdy. Also make sure the tree has a straight, well-established leader (stem) and dense branch structure covering at least two thirds of the tree, especially at the ground end. This is because the lower branches provide the food necessary to grow the stem and the roots. Favor trees that aren’t too tall — ranging between 4 and 7 feet with an inch-wide stem taper — as their roots are easier to accommodate. Avoid ones that smell foul, as they’re most likely diseased. Original Article
The famed tree of Sycamore Gap in England was cut down after growing there for around 200 years – but this is just rustle of a leaf compared to the lives of some woody plants.