Bare Root Trees

The winter months are the best months to plant and establish deciduous fruit and ornamental trees.  Not only that, planting winter's bare root trees is cheaper then purchasing potted trees.  Bare root trees are field grown, and in late May - early June are dug and supplied to nurseries such as ours, with trees usually available for sale from the June long weekend.  

At Barrow & Bench we source fruit and ornamental trees from Balhannah Nurseries, a long established South Australian tree nursery nestled in the rolling hills of Charleston in the Adelaide Hills; and from Flemings Nurseries in Victoria.  Both growers have a reputation for excellence and quality products.

Bare root trees should be planted out between June through to August.  If circumstances and time get the better of you then do remember to pop your bare root tree into a pot of a suitable size using a quality potting mix, and then plant out next season.

PRUNING:  Bare root trees must be pruned before planting or at the time of planting.  The reason being that when the trees are dug from their field approximately half of their root system is left behind.  The tree is therefore out of balance, so to speak.  Left un-pruned its small root system will struggle to supply nutrients and water to a large canopy of leaves, buds and fruit as the tree comes out of dormancy in spring.   The trees you purchase from us in the nursery have not been pruned so please be sure to give your tree a prune upon planting.    As a guide shorten the limbs of your tree by a third to a half of their total length being sure to cut adjacent an outward facing bud.  

PLANTING:  Dig your hole as deep as the root ball, but twice as wide as the root ball, leaving a small mound at the bottom of the hole.  Carefully remove your tree from its bareroot packaging, being sure to lightly trim any damaged roots.  Gently fan out the roots over the mounded soil.  Fill the rest of the soil into the hole being sure not to leave air pockets (tamp down gently with your foot).  Be sure to make sure that the bud union remains above soil level.  For gardeners who are not gardening organically place a small handful of slow release fertiliser around the base of the tree, and for those who are gardening organically apply well rotted compost.    Water in your fertiliser well.  

WATERING TO ESTABLISH:  Trees are a valuable asset to your property.  They improve your health and well being, attract birds and insects and can assist in cooling your home in summer.  They also take a long time to grow.  Looking after your tree well during establishment is important.  In the garden centre we generally encourage home owners to pay particular attention to watering requirements during the first two or three summers.  Water your trees weekly from the time of planting until summer begins, then water according to the weather conditions and rainfall in your garden.  For example in a particularly hot week you may need to water daily, and during periods of rain you may not need to water at all.

POLLINATION:  Some fruit trees are self fertile, others require cross pollination.  Tree labels will give you some idea of pollinators, or ask our garden staff if you are unsure.  If you have a neighbours who are keen gardeners you may bind that between your gardens you can get some useful cross pollination happening.  Apples, Almonds, Pears, Plums, and some cherries all have pollination requirements.

ESPALIER:  Espalier is a useful form of training a tree in a tight location.  it is also very handy for gardeners wanting to contain the size of a tree for netting.  Both fruit and ornamental trees can be grown as an espalier.  The following fruit trees espalier well:  almonds, apples, apricots, cherries, currants, kiwifruit, medlars, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums and quinces.  In regard to ornamental trees consider espaliering Cercis, Fagus, Laburnum, Lagerstroemia, Malus, Parrotia, Prunus, and Pyrus.  Flemings Nursery have a fabulous guide to espalier on their website.  It is well worth reading if you are just beginning to explore the wonderful world of espalier.   Find it at:

MY FAVOURITES:  Working in a garden centre it is difficult to have favourites, but I must admit to having a great liking for the Smyrna Quince tree.  Its gorgeously fragrant blossom fill the air in spring.  Its delicious, knobbly fruit hang on the tree long into summer and makes the most amazing quince paste.  Quince trees have fallen out of favour, but it is definitely worth considering popping one of these delightful small trees in your garden because they are super hardy.  For a small ornamental tree to suit an urban environment you can't go past a flowering crab apple such as Malus ioensis 'Plena'.  In spring this tree is smothered in double white and pale pink blooms, and in Autumn it foliage turns an attractive red-yellow.

If you have any questions about pollination, need assistance in chosing a suitable tree to espalier, or cant decide which tree is best for your garden, please be sure to speak with our qualified garden staff.  They are all keen gardeners and have a love for growing trees and fruit.

As always, happy gardening.