Planting in cold weather
The mercury's dipping and you don't fancy the idea of working outside with a spade, but it's back to work on Monday and you've got a bundle of bare root hedging that you need to plant before then. Is it recommended to plant trees and shrubs in such cold weather? Perhaps the temperature is a good excuse to put it off and cosy up indoors instead?
The answer depends on just how cold it is. Our advice is, in general, that if you can get a fork in the ground, it's fine to plant. If the ground's frozen solid, wait.
Hardy trees and shrubs are generally able to stand up to freezing weather (as the description hardy suggests). Nearly all the trees and shrubs on the nursery here are kept outside, so they're fully acclimatised to the chilly winds and frosty mornings of a south-western winter.
It's important to note, however, that roots can break more easily if they are frozen, which can harm their ability to establish when planted. Therefore, if you need to put off planting due to freezing weather, keep bare root plants in their packaging, either in a frost-free but cold place, such as a garage or shed, or heeled-in somewhere (packaging removed) so the roots are protected. Keep container-grown trees in their pots in a cold but sheltered place.
If you have not received your plants yet, but they are due to arrive in freezing weather, speak to us if you think it may be necessary to delay delivery. In most cases we would recommend sticking with the arranged delivery date as the weather may pass before we are next delivering in your area.
How long can I store bare root plants?
You can store bare root trees and hedging in their bags for about a week, in a cold but sheltered place. You can store them heeled in until the end of the bare root season - this is when spring arrives and trees and shrubs start to awaken from dormancy and come into leaf, usually around March-April.
In winter, there is no need to water container-grown trees before or after planting. Wait till spring.
While storing bare root trees and shrubs, you can add a little water to the bag if the roots appear very dry. After planting, wait until about mid-March, or until they come into leaf.