How We Package Plants

Bare Root Plants

Bare root plants are dormant - not actively growing. Plants are dug up and stored without any soil around their roots.

Buying plants "bare root" is the most affordable way to order plants. They enable customers to buy at a fraction of the expense of containerized plants, primarily due to the cost of shipping. 

We ship bare root stock in the "dormant" season when plants do not have leaves, foliage, or blooms. All our bare root stock is dug fresh to order.

If you haven't worked with bare root plants, dormant plants might look dead. But there are ways to tell it's alive and healthy. The most effective is a scratch test.



How do we package bare root plants for ample moisture during shipping? 

First, Plants are fresh dug to order from our fields.

Next, the roots are soaked overnight in a terra-sorb mixture in our custom cattle feeders.



After being thoroughly soaked overnight, the roots are then dipped in the thicker Terra-Sorb Gel. Terra-Sorb is a co-polymer gel with excellent water holding capacity for the soil.
This exceptionally absorbent potassium-based gel can absorb up to 200 times its weight in water while also releasing slowly to any surrounding plants. By slowly watering the roots, Terra-Sorb helps your plants arrive healthy and happy.

The Terra-Sorb Gel will encase the roots.  


Then, we surround roots with peat moss and place them in plastic plant bags to retain moisture.

We secure all the elements, and then items are ready to be packed into a box to ship to you.


How To Store Bare Root Plants Until Planting Time

Bare Root Plants are shipped in a plastic bag with terra sorb silicone gel that seals in moisture to keep plants with ample moisture. Please check that all the roots you ordered are in the bag. Please do not allow them to dry out or freeze.

Trees & Shrubs (Including Fruit Trees, Berry Plants, and Native Plants)

When you receive your trees or shrubs, you will need to open them right away and remove the plastic from the entire plant (except the root area).

It is best to plant Bare Root Trees & Shrubs within 1-2 days after receiving them, but there are other methods in case you do not have time for immediate planting. If you have a cool, moist area such as a basement or garage, leave the plants standing upright and leave plastic around the root system, and water thoroughly a couple of times a day (roots only). A constant temperature of 34° to 38° F is ideal. They will be better cooler than warmer. When they get over 56 degrees, they will start to break dormancy. 

When you plant, it's always best to soak the roots, put water in the hole before planting (to add moisture in the deeper part of the soil before planting), and water again after planting. It's also advised to water each plant the first 4-5 days after it's planted, and they should do well on their own after this. We also recommend using a good fertilizer in the Fall so when the spring comes again, your trees & shrubs will be beautiful and ready to thrive.

Perennials, Ferns & Ground Covers

When we must store perennials, ferns & groundcovers, we maintain 38-42 degrees. Some nurseries use this year-round; the plants will be delicate for long periods without planting. This keeps them dormant. Also, if your order is a small one and you have a crisper drawer in the bottom section of your refrigerator, place them in their bags in the crisper drawer. This provides an adequate temperature for these types of plants. If you do not have room for cold storage, put it in your basement, garage, or cellar and remove it from the bags. Cover with potting soil and mist lightly with water every couple of days until you can plant them.

Wetland Plants & Live Stakes

If you have a pond, lake, or large trough, place the roots of the plants in water, and they will be fine for several days until planted. Ensure that you keep freshwater using your container, do not allow algae to grow or the water to become stagnant. Change water every few days. When submerged in a pond or lake, nothing is needed to be changed, put roots in, and they will grow while being stored until planted.

How-To Videos



Instructions for different root types


Fibrous: Lots of perennials come like this: (Hepatica, Shootingstar, Beardtongue, Spiderworts) Many prairie flowers possess fibrous root systems. These are characterized by numerous roots, emanating from the root crown (where the roots meet the buds). Planting depth: The dormant buds should be one inch below the soil surface. If leaves are present, make sure that they extend above the soil line, with the root itself completely in the ground.


 Rhizome: Ferns and Very Few Woody Perennials Come Like This:( Prairie Smoke, Irises, Queen of the Prairie, Sunflowers, Solomon’s Plume, Wild Geranium, Ebony Spleenwort, Hayscented Fern, Toothed Wood Fern, Ostrich Fern, Bloodroot, Celandine Poppy, Indian Pink, Straw Lily, Bellwort) A rhizome is a modified root that serves the dual function of storing plant food as well as absorbing water and nutrients. Rhizomes also act as agents for the spread of a plant. Planting depth: Plant rhizomes horizontally, one to two inches deep, with buds at or just below the soil surface. The attached feeder roots should be planted down into the soil.




Bulbs: Some perennials and vines arrive like this:(Wild Onions) Bulbs are roots adapted to store nutrients and moisture during periods of plant dormancy. Most bulbs produce offshoots to generate new plants to ensure longevity. Planting depth: Bulbs should be planted so that the white part of the plant is below ground, with any green growth above the soil.

Taproot: Vines Look Like this on arrival. (Lupine) Taproot plants, vines, and ground cover look like this. They have one or more solid and central roots that go deep into the soil. This allows them to reach far below the fibrous-rooted plants for moisture and nutrients. Tap-rooted wildflowers like Lupine coexist well when planted with fibrous-rooted grasses and flowers. Planting depth: The dormant buds should be one inch below the soil surface. If leaves are present, they should extend above the soil surface, with the root itself completely covered.



Corms: Perennials (some) look like this on arrival: (Blazingstars, Jack in the Pulpit, Trilliums) Corms are modified stems that resemble bulbs. The only difference is that bulbs have scales, while corms are solid when cutting cross-sections. Planting depth: Corms should be placed, so the top of the corm and the buds are two inches below the soil surface. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the roots of the Blazingstars from the buds, making it hard to tell which end is up. The roots are dark and wiry. The buds are pinkish and often obscured by the previous year's brown-colored old growth.


Bare-Root Plants: Before and After

Trees: Below (left) is an example of how our bare root crepe myrtles (or any trees) will look when we ship them. They will be dormant, without foliage. Plant these trees in cool weather, and in the spring, your tree should look like the picture on the right - when planted and cared for properly.


Shrubs: On the left is a picture of the shrubs - packaged as they will look when received. The picture to the right is how they will look the following spring if taken care of.


Perennials: The ones on the left are dormant, and the right picture is how they will look the following spring when planted and cared for properly.

 Ferns: Our bare root ferns are shipped just like our perennials. At time of shipment (left). The following season (right).



Berry plants: The picture below shows berry plants (left) in a dormant stage without leaves, blooms, or berries. Plant as soon as you receive them; in the spring, they will "green out" and produce (right).


 Ground Cover Plants: On the left is how the ground cover plant will look at shipment. On the right is how they will look the following spring!




Grass plugs: We do not ship grasses in colder months due to the tops being gone. Also, we will not ship a grass species without identifying it. These are grown in large fields with other species of carex and other grasses; it is best to wait for warmer months when identification is possible.