A GROWING CONCERN: Time to get back to your (bare) roots

NEXT WEEK, WE are already into the second trimester of winter.

Daylight is now lasting longer and the temperatures are rising — did you see 50 degrees this last week?

‘Tis the season.

I bring this up today, because we are entering that magical time of year to not only successfully transplant large bushes, shrubs and trees, but you can and should plant bare-root items as well.

The secret is our gorgeous, mild, wet and northern climate.

Moisture is the first key factor and with the melting of the last snowfall, and all the rain we’ve had, the ground is wet everywhere now. And more moisture will be delivered weekly.

This is crucial because not only are your transplanted items watered-in, but will be for weeks and months to come.

Mother Nature will continue to water them for you.

In fact, the ground from today until the end of May will stay uniformly moist, which is an important factor for both transplants and bare-root items.

Next is the mild weather we have on the Olympic Peninsula during the winter and actually year round.

Again, we are neither hot nor cold, meaning the ground does not freeze, so root production can occur at a rapid rate.

Trees, shrubs, bushes and all perennials naturally grow new root systems at this time of year, and not having bone-chilling weather means our soil will stay well above freezing, which in turn fosters continued root growth.

Not being dry also is extremely advantageous to new root growth, because newly developing roots cannot dry out and wither.

Also, we are quite North in latitude.

So even when the sun shines, as it is doing now, it will not beat down on newly planted specimens, which would cause them to dehydrate or wilt.

So, the weather waters in your plants, provides mild conditions that are not too warm or too cold — the Peninsula is just the right place. There are no factors to cause stress in your transplanted or bare root plants, so now is the time to be a planting maniac.

As we move into February, dig away, move that tree that is too close to the house.

Transplant the items that just a few years ago were fine as very small plants but have now grown together.

Buy peony roots, daylily tubers, ground covers, blueberries, strawberries, roses and fruit trees.

This is why bare root plants are the best value — not only are they available now or very soon, but they are very inexpensive for their size.

Cheaper and better

Since they do not come in heavy pots full of soil, they ship better and are cheaper to buy in larger sizes.

They do not require as big of a hole, and planted soon, they will be almost fully-adhered into the ground come June, so they are your best bet and buy.

Now is a great time to start your orchard with bare-root apples, pears, plums, cherries, peaches and nectarine trees.

Selection is also great because many nurseries and plant vendors have their widest variety of certain trees during bare-root season.

As is always the case, you should fertilize well any newly planted botanicals no matter what, even if it is raining — a good soaking is highly advised the first day.

So whether it is moving existing trees, creating a wind, sound or visual barrier, or just thinning out plants, now is the time to plant bare-root items.

Transplant woody plants and many bare-root nursery stock ground covers, vines and roses as well.

And please … stay well all!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).

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