Storing Bare Root Shrubs, Root Ball Hedging and Container Grown Trees in Cold Weather

Although winter is a great time for planting, sometimes the weather can stop you in your tracks. If you find yourself with a new delivery of bare root or root ball hedge plants but the ground is frozen or water logged, this blog will help you to find the best way to store your plants until the conditions improve.
Pot grown plants
For container grown plants the first thing you need to do is keep them in their pots as this will protect the root mass from being exposed to freezing conditions which can easily damage or break small roots, resulting in a weak start for the plant.
You can store your pot grown hedging and trees for up to a week in a cool, dry shed or garage, or if space is limited, they can be kept outside, lying them flat if there is a risk of strong winds blowing them over.  It’s best to store them away from warm temperatures as your plants can suffer shock if there is a dramatic environmental change such as moving them back outside to the cold when planting. As with all containerised plants, you need to ensure they are kept on a level, free-draining surface to avoid the soil becoming water logged.
You can plant your container grown hedge plants as soon as the ground thaws and you can feel some moisture in the soil.
 garden shed
Rootballed hedging plants
Root ball hedging is delivered with a hessian sack surrounding the root system and soil mass, and this should be left on during both storage and planting.
Root ball plants should be stored in a cool, dry place sheltered from winds and frost, and extra insulation can be added by covering the hessian sack with straw. The hessian should prevent the root ball from drying out but you can give it a light watering should you notice any signs of desiccation.
As soon as any snow or frost has disappeared and the ground has properly thawed, you can safely plant your root ball hedge plants, leaving the hessian sack on – this will decompose naturally over time.
 Box rootball hedging plant
Bare root hedge plants
Bare root hedging plants should be planted as soon as possible after delivery, however when planting conditions are poor, it is safe to store them until the planting site is more hospitable.
The main thing to remember when storing bare root plants is to keep the roots moist. You should keep them in a sheltered, dry and cool location such as a shed or garage, and they can be stored like this for up to a week.
After a week, if the conditions of your planting site have still not improved, you will need to temporarily plant your bare root plants. You can either ‘heel them in’ in a trench in your garden or plant them in a free-draining container with compost around the roots. Providing you water regularly, both of these solutions can be successful for up to a few weeks.
 heeling in beech bare root plants
So now you know how to store your plants during cold weather, there is no need to worry if you receive a delivery during snow or frosty weather. Simply follow the steps above and your plants will be just as successful as if you planted them straight away in optimum conditions.
If you have any questions about this topic, or anything else relating to your garden, please tweet me @best4hedging and I’ll be happy to help.

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