Transplanting Bare Root Perennials


Upon Receipt of Shipment

Open boxes and transplant all roots as soon as possible. Be sure to have plant labels on hand when potting for correct identification. If any roots are still frozen (many varieties are stored in freezers), allow to thaw slowly in a cool room before handling. With UPS shipments, please note that some boxes may arrive a day or two after the main shipment.


If dry, soak roots in water for one hour before planting. This will help plants get established sooner. If you cannot transplant the roots immediately, store plants with plastic bags loosely closed in a cool, 35-40 F area for 2-3 days.

Priority Plants

Unboxing Bare Root Veronica

Unboxing Bare Root Veronica

First transplant all bare root plants, beginning with evergreen types such as Ajuga, Dianthus, Iberis, Lavandula, and Phlox subulata.

Potted Plants

May be unboxed and held in a cool greenhouse until transplanting. Most potted plants are shipped dormant; some may have fresh or tender top growth.

Plants to Grow Dry

Aquilegia, Amsonia, Asclepias tuberosa, Centaurea, Corydalis, Dwarf Iris, Echinacea, Gaura, Iberis, Lavandula, Lewisia, Lupines, Oenothera, Perovskia, Platycodon, Stachys, Verbascum, and Yucca. It is very important to water these varieties infrequently. Plant the above varieties in a well-drained media, water in thoroughly after planting; water lightly thereafter.

Plants to Grow Wet

Iris ensata, Iris sibirica, Iris pseudacorus, Acorus, Cimicifuga, Astilbe, Dicentra, and Trollius. These plants are unforgiving if allowed to dry out. Leaves will scorch and regrowth will be slow.


Roots should be firm, relatively dry, and light brown in color. Since most plants have been packed for cold storage in advance, appearance of light surface mold is not unusual. This is generally harmless and does not affect plant performance. A preventative fungicide is usually unnecessary unless the variety is prone to fungal diseases.

Pot Sizes

We suggest potting most varieties into One Gallon containers. Larger containers may also be used for some varieties. Trim off any longer roots, rather than coiling around bottoms of containers. Phlox subulata clumps fit well into shallow, wide containers such as azalea pots or mum pans. Seedlings, liners, or rooted cuttings may be put into four inch pots.

Soil Mixes 

Most perennial plants need a well-drained potting mix for optimum growth. We suggest a commercial bark-based soilless mix with a pH of 5.5 to 6.2. Avoid using compost as part of any potting mix. We do not recommend incorporating granular slow-release fertilizers into the soil mix, but prefer continuous liquid feed through the irrigation system at 100 ppm nitrogen.

Growing Temperatures

Keep all potted perennials above freezing. Cold, wet conditions may cause plants to decline or rot. For best results, keep plants at 50 F for 10 to 14 days after potting to promote root growth, and then grow at 60 F until finished. Lower temperatures may be used to delay or supend growth, while warmer temperatures help accelerate growth. Good air circulation is very important. In general, allow six to eight weeks growing time in a cool, 60 F greenhouse for finished potted perennials.


A light application of liquid feed may be applied after new growth appears. Keep granular fertilizers away from plant crowns and foliage or burn injury may occur. If necessary, use only low to moderate rates of slow release fertilizer. High fertilization rates encourage root rot diseases.