Bare Roots vs. Containers

Around this time of year, most gardeners are keen to get their hands on bare roots- they're cheaper to buy, lighter to plant, and need little maintenance. But we're quite often asked which one is better...bare roots or containers? 

The truth is, both have their advantages and disadvantages. It's truly about what suits you. However, we'd love to help out, and we'll still try our best to explain the answer...

Which one is best?

The one that's best for you can depend on a variety of things. Here's some of them:

1. The sort of budget you're on

As we may all know by now, bare roots are a much cheaper option (especially when looking to plant larger areas of hedging), therefore being very popular. Often you will find the same size for the same plant will cost you a lot less in bare root. However, bare roots are not given a 100% success rate, as they're not protected during delivery and have the possibility to be drowned with water during planting. 

Containers are more expensive due to the care that they need during their growth in our Nurseries- including watering, weeding, feeding, and more! Plus, they're highly protected during delivery and growth, with being surrounded by soil. Bare roots, on the other hand, are left to do their own thing in the ground before being dug up, meaning they need very little care and attention from our plant specialists.

2. The time of year you're looking to plant

If you're looking to plant bare roots, the only time you can do so is between November and March. This is because the plants are dormant ("sleeping") and will not be shaken up when they're moved from one place to another. On the other hand, container grown plants are available year-round, and can be planted at any time of the year. You can leave them in their pots for a few days/weeks before planting (which you cannot do with bare roots), so if you're not ready to plant straight away then containers are the one for you! 

If you're looking to plant during the autumn/winter months, and are able to plant within a day or so upon delivery, bare roots could quite easily be the right root type for you...

3. How far your plants are needing to be transported

Depending on your planting site, how far and how much you're needing to move your plants can make your decision. Container grown plants are much heavier as they have a large pot of soil surrounding the roots, which surprisingly does make a huge difference in weight.

Bare roots, on the other hand, have zero soil surrounding the roots, and are therefore much lighter to carry around/plant. 

So if you have to carry your plants far, with little help, bare roots are likely to be the best choice. On the other hand, if you have mechanical help on hand, or lots of people to help you out, you can always go for containers!

Now that's the three main points covered, we hope your decision will become much easier. However, some of you still have questions you're bursting to know the answer to...

Why are most bare roots deciduous?

Very little evergreen plants are sold with bare root options, and this is because they never turn fully dormant, meaning their chance of success is quite low. To ensure you get the best out of your plants, most of our bare root options are deciduous plants- they go fully dormant during November-March, and have a better chance at surviving. Browse our bare root hedging options.

Why are bare roots much cheaper than pot grown?

As we stated earlier, bare roots are grown in the ground, and therefore do not need "special attention." They're much easier to take care of, on our side, therefore making growing costs much lower. As well as this, due to the plants being so light, shipping costs are lower, therefore making the total price smaller overall.

When can I buy a bare root plant?

Bare roots are only available during November - March. You can pre-order at any time of the year, and we will deliver your bare roots when the season comes around, or when the plants are ready to be dug up- if you dig the plants up too quickly, it can shock them and the roots are will not be strong enough to recover.

How quickly do I need to plant my bare roots?

With bare roots, you will need to plant them as soon as possible. The roots cannot be left to dry out as this reduces their chance of survival dramatically. When the plants first arrive, dunk them into a bucket of water for at least 2 hours, or until they're moist- follow this with planting straight away, or keeping in a cool, dark room until you're ready (just ensure the roots are moist before planting, and you don't put it off for any more than two days or so).

If I order bare roots, when will they get delivered?

All bare root orders will be delivered from November- March.

When bare roots are ready can change each year, as the climate has a huge impact on the the development of the plant's root systems, and when the plants go into full dormancy. With that being said, if you were to order in November-March, it could take a couple of weeks for the plants to arrive, depending on stock availability and when the plants are ready themselves.

How do I plant my bare roots?

Planting your bare roots is easier than ever- read our full bare root planting guide to support you every step of the way.


We hope this blog has answered some of your questions, and you now feel more assured in choosing the right plant type for you! If you're needing further advice, please email us at, or call us on 0330 555 1020.