Buying bare root perennials is an economical and eco-friendly way to buy plants - no compost or plastic pots. Bare root perennials are easy to grow and look after too. They just need cutting back at the end of autumn or early spring and new stems will appear in the spring and the plants will increase in size season after season giving bigger and better displays.
Arriving at their optimum time to be planted, in the dormant season whilst the plants are without stems or leaves, all you need to do is plant the bare roots into soil/compost, either in pots, (see below), or into the ground, water in and let them grow. If the ground is not frozen or waterlogged, bare root perennials can be planted straight away. It really is as easy as that.
Bare root perennials generally produce stronger plants than seed grown perennials and should flower in their first season. This is because bare root perennials have been through a vernalisation period which gives them a period of coldness which then boosts the plants into growth as soon as the soil warms up, usually around April. Bare root perennials will benefit from a soak in a bucket of cold water for an hour before planting, to ensure that the roots are fully hydrated.
Dig a large enough hole to plant the whole root, without damaging it, and incorporate fresh compost with the soil to aid drainage. Using a mychorrhizal plant powder sprinkled onto the roots will help to ensure that good root growth is achieved. The powder contains symbiotic fungi that will help the roots to draw in moisture and increase root spread. This boosts the plants overall and they are quicker to establish and produce more healthy plants.
Plant not too deeply but making sure the roots are covered with compost/soil mixture. The crowns (the tops of the plants) should be 2/3cms below soil level. If you can see a tiny amount of shoot or greenery make sure this is just above ground level. Firm gently in, ensuring there are no air pockets under or around the roots and water the area well. This should be all the moisture they need until you can see the plants are actively growing. Once your plants are 15-20cms in height they can be fed using a multi-purpose feed.
Place a cane or label in the ground next to your bare root perennial just before you cover the roots over so that you know where and what you have planted.
*Do not plant bare perennials if the ground is waterlogged or frozen. If you need to plant when a very cold spell of weather is forecast, cover the area with cardboard or plastic sheeting to keep the worst of the cold out.
Alternatively, a successful way to start off your bare root perennials is to plant up each bare root plant into a pot using fresh compost. Ensure that the pot is large enough for the roots to spread evenly in the pot. Plant not too deeply but making sure the roots are covered with compost. The crowns (the tops of the plants) should be 2/3cms below soil level. Water in well and place a label into each pot. Leave until early/mid-spring or once the weather is more clement, when they can be planted in their final flowering positions in the garden border.