Gardening with James Vaughan: Planting times for bare root trees and shrubs

James Vaughan


James Vaughan


Gardening with James Vaughan: Planting times for bare root trees and shrubs

This week we will discuss further something I first mentioned several weeks ago. We touched on the plants for hedging and tree planting. As mentioned, there is still time to plant bare-root trees and hedge plants. There are many retailers who are supply bare root shrubs.

As previously mentioned, the planting season for planting bare-roots is limited. This is because the plants need to be dug up, shipped, sold and planted in a short space of time.

This time is dictated by how long the plants are dormant or ‘asleep’ for during the winter months. The planting time for all bare-roots is roughly November to February inclusive.

There is still time to plant bare-roots, - but not much! There are several types of trees and hedging plants that are usually grown from bare-roots. The reason they are grown from bare root stock is because it is more cost effective.

Beech Hedging

Beech hedging can be split into two main types; Green Beech and Purple Beech. Both these types of Beech have copper coloured leaves in winter. This is a good hedge to plant for privacy. This is because the winter copper leaves are pushed off by the new emerging leaves in spring. This means that at no stage is the tree naked (and transparent).

Beech generally do best in good, dry soil. The price you pay for beech is dependent on size. Generally, prices are set for plants at: 30CM, 30-60CM and 90CM plus. Purple Beech is slightly more expensive to buy than Green Beech.


Hornbeam is usually planted where the ground is too wet for Hornbeam. It has a very similar appearance to Beech. It also keeps its copper/ash coloured winter leaves. Hornbeam thrives in sites where Beech may not. The name Hornbeam comes from the timber. The timber- or beams- are hard and strong- like animal horn. Hence the name- Hornbeam.


Evergreens, especially Conifers, are also available now as bare-root. There are several that you will see for sale. Among the most popular are Leylandii, Emerald Thuja and Pine trees. Evergreens are usually sold in larger sizes- starting from one metre upwards.

Again, the reason for planting them as bare- root is for economic reasons- they are less expensive than pot grown specimens. You may see when buying bare-roots that the root ball is wrapped in hessian or cloth. The planting method is to keep this hessian root ball intact. You would then plant this hessian along with the root ball into the ground. The hessian will quickly rot away when the roots start to grow and spread.

Last year in our own garden we planted a Bhutan Pine. As the name suggests, this trees origin is the area surrounding the Kingdom of Bhutan in the Eastern Himalayas. Because it comes from a harsh mountain environment it does well in Irish gardens.

It was only a metre high when we planted it and has already put on 60 cm. Eventually it will have a lovely weeping form measuring several metres high. One of the greatest gifts you can have as a gardener is the gift of patience!