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Are bare root trees better than potted trees?

Garden advice
Are bare root trees better than potted trees?
All Green
All Green
July 30, 2021
minute read

We give Australian green thumbs the clear choice between bare-root and potted trees

Bare root trees are specific types of trees that, because of their nature, can be dug up, transported and replanted without the use of pots or excess potting mix or soil.

Due to the unique process these trees and plants go through, only deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves during the winter months) can be sold in bare root form. These include fruit trees, roses and a range of ornamental trees.

Ready to get planting around your home? Explore our full range of bare-rooted trees.

While there are lots of benefits of buying and planting the bare root version of your favourite trees, there are also some challenges associated with this type of tree. Keep reading as we explore whether bare root trees are better than potted.

Bare root trees vs potted trees

The first thing you need to know about bare root trees is that they are typically only available during certain times:

  • You can generally find them in stores from late autumn to early spring.
  • Because all bare-rooted trees are deciduous, winter is the time that they are dormant — meaning they have no fruit, flowers and few leaves.
  • Winter is the safest time to transport the trees without risking damage or death to the plant.

Here are some other things to consider:

Once removed from the ground, the nursery will typically keep the tree hydrated for transport by wrapping the exposed roots in something like newspaper before storing it in a cool, dark environment.

Because the trees are unprotected, care needs to be taken to ensure they are not exposed to harsh sunlight or warm temperatures as these can force the tree out of its dormant state prematurely, which can spell trouble if the tree is not yet replanted. For this reason, there is a small window of time between buying your new bare-rooted tree and getting it in the ground.

Potted trees and plants on the other hand are available year-round, allow more wiggle room for replanting (if you choose to plant them in the ground) and tend to be more low maintenance in general.

Benefits of bare-rooted trees


Here are some of the biggest benefits of bare-rooted trees.

They cost less

If you are looking at expanding your garden, it’s worth asking your local nursery which plants are available in a bare rooted version. If you can wait until the winter months, there’s a good chance you will be able to pick these up for a fraction of the cost of the regular potted version as you’re not paying for the cost of transporting heavy pots and soil.

They are well established

In general, bare-rooted trees and plants are more established than their potted counterparts. For this reason, bare-rooted plants can be a good option for those looking to grow their garden quickly. When you buy bare-rooted plants during the winter months, you can expect them to take off quickly once spring hits.

They adapt easily

Another big benefit of bare-rooted trees is their tendency to be more adaptable to new environments. Because they are in a dormant state when they are dug up and moved, bare-root trees tend to take hold quicker than the potted equivalent.

Benefits of potted trees

On the other hand, here are some major benefits of potted plants and trees.

Greater variety of plants

As only some deciduous trees can be sold in their bare-rooted version, if you are looking for a specific type of evergreen species you may be better opting for the potted version.

Less fussy than bare-root trees

Despite their benefits, bare-rooted trees require some care and attention to ensure they don’t die during transport and storage before you get a chance to replant them. Potted plants and trees on the other hand tend to be hardier, meaning you can let them sit in the sun until you are ready to plant them.

You can plant year-round

Unlike bare-rooted trees, potted plants allow more flexibility in when they can be planted in the ground. Rather than being confined to the winter months, potted plants can generally be replanted throughout the year, keeping in mind the preferred growing schedule of the specific plant of course.

Which trees can you buy bare root?

Despite the seasonal limitations, many different types of plants are available in their bare-rooted form. These include:

  • Apples (varieties include Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Pink Lady)
  • Almond
  • Cherry
  • Fig
  • Pear
  • Pomegranate
  • Plum

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