What are bare root and root ball plants?
Take a popular product like our Box hedge plants (Buxus sempervirens) - these are usually grown in a container, however the ‘bare root’ or ‘root ball’ version of this plant is one grown in the ground... These are then dug out of the ground, the soil is cleaned away, and the remaining plant is delivered to customers – ready to re-plant in their garden!
What’s the difference between bare root, root ball and container grown plants?
Container grown plants can be planted all year round, because their root system is undisturbed by transplanting. Bare root and root ball plants can only be planted during the ‘dormant season’ which runs from November to March. Bare root and root ball plants are cheaper to buy due to the lack of soil around the roots - this means they are lighter in weight, which therefore reduces delivery costs for us and for you!
Are bare root / root ball plants better than potted?
Container grown plants AKA potted plants are great! But it is worth noting bare root and root ball options, of the same plants, come with a few perks:
- They’re cheaper to buy – as mentioned above, this is due to shipping costs and the reduction in growing materials.
- More bang for your buck - for the same amount of money, you can get more coverage/more plants than the price of the potted versions.
- Easier to plant – they are lighter to ship and therefore lighter to plant (ideal for those susceptible to back pains!)
- Stronger, wider root system – which means the plant can establish faster and stronger!
- Less maintenance – since bare root and root balls are planted from November through to March, they need less attention as the ground is generally wetter during these months.
- Fewer fertilisers and fungicides are used in the growth of root ball and bare root plants.
- Eco-friendly – since there are no plastic pots to consider.
What are the disadvantages of using bare root or root ball plants?
- Pre-ordering is essential! For two reasons: Firstly, they are in high demand! Secondly, plants do not enjoy being kept out of the ground long, so suppliers will only order enough plants to fulfil orders already made - ensuring no plants are wasted by sitting around too long.
- Unfortunately, some plants are not available in this ‘root type’ as they have delicate or tender roots.
- Not available all year round and can only be planted during dormant season.
When is the bare root and root ball season?
Most plants are dormant in the cold winter months. In the UK, the dormancy season generally runs from November to March, although unseasonable weather can lengthen or shorten the time span. When Plants are dormant, this means that top growth is halted so that trees and hedging plants can conserve energy. However, their roots are still able to grow underground which is precisely what is required for successful transplanting.
Getting ahead and pre-ordering bare-root and root-ball plants
Now that summer is almost behind us, our pre-orders for bare root and root ball plants are open. We’ll deliver your root ball/bare root plants just in time for planting during the dormant period (November-March). Most of our ranges come in all root-types, so unless you are planning to plant this Spring/Summer – we highly advise you take advantage of the root ball window to save money and increase the success and growth of your plants.
Not sure where to start with planting them? Fear not- read our ultimate 'How to Plant Bare Root and Root Ball Plants' guide. It has everything you need to know.