How To Plant Hardy Geranium Bare Root

What could be more enticing than daydreaming of spring gardens during the chilly, dark winter months? If you’re like most gardeners, you might find yourself browsing printed plant catalogs or internet nurseries when the snow is swirling outside. Even though it can take a few months until they ship, you can quickly stock your virtual shopping cart with must-have plants. And do you recall reading the small print regarding how your package of perennials would be shipped when it eventually arrives? When choosing plants, it’s easy to overlook whether a plant will be transported bare-root, in a nursery pot, or in liner. What should a gardener do if they obtain a bag of roots that is completely devoid of any signs of life?

Breathe deeply and unwind. Those dried-out roots will eventually transform into a gorgeous addition to your yard! How to plant bare-root perennials is as follows:

First, Unpack Your Perennials

The first step is to remove the plants from the box, whether you got bare-root perennials or plants in pots. If you ordered plants in the winter, the nursery will hold off on shipping them until the weather is mild enough to allow for planting in your zone. (Reputable nurseries all refrain from shipping plants during extremely cold weather because they may be harmed in transit. It’s not acceptable if you reside in the north and get your order in February. Call the business’s customer service line!)

Inspect Your Bare-Root Plants

Check out your new plants. Perennials with bare roots are normally dug, divided, and stored in the fall until the time comes to send the dormant plants in the spring. When you open your order’s box, you might be concerned if you’ve never planted bare-root perennials before, but don’t be concerned! Although the dormant roots and crown may appear strange, they will eventually produce magnificent plants in your landscape.

Examine the health of the roots. Perennials come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and their roots can be either thin and fibrous or robust and mushy. The roots should be solid and dry, not mushy or slimy, regardless of the structure. Simply cut off any broken or damaged roots you come across. When the perennial is put in your garden, new roots will sprout.

Store Bare-Root Perennials

As soon as your bare-root perennials arrive, you should be prepared to plant them. But don’t worry if a late freeze is imminent, spring rains last for a week, or you’re overworked. Your bare-root plants can either be planted in nursery pots or stored in a bag with some peat moss in a cool, dark location (above freezing). They get a head start on the growth season by being started in nursery pots, allowing them to emerge from dormancy indoors while you wait for the weather to warm up outside. Remember to harden off the plants before planting them in the garden if you start your bare-root perennials indoors. Introduce the plants to the new environment gradually by gradually acclimating them to outdoor conditions like temperature and sunlight over the course of each day. Your new perennials, which have been growing in a protected indoor environment, need to toughen up a little in order to successfully move to the outdoors. Prior to placing the plants in garden beds, let them to harden off for a period of 10 to 2 weeks.

Plant Your New Bare-Root Perennials

Plant bare-root perennials immediately into garden beds or containers if the weather is cooperative and spring appears to be approaching. After your last anticipated spring frost date, which you can see here, the soil should have warmed up before planting outdoors.

While you prepare the garden bed, soak the perennial roots in water for about an hour. In order to improve drainage and enhance nutrients, if your garden has poor soil—heavy clay or sand—add compost or other organic material to the bed and mix it with the current soil. Create a hole that is somewhat deeper and wider than the roots. Fill the hole with water and let it to soak into the ground fully. The roots should then be placed on top of the soil mound that has been created in the middle of the hole, spreading evenly. Ensure that the crown of the plant is level with the soil line by adjusting the location. (Avoid burying the plant’s crown; it could decay.) Once the bare-root plant has been placed correctly, fill the hole with soil and compact it close to the roots. To ensure that moisture reaches the roots and to flush out any air pockets, water the plant well.

Label Your Plant

To help you remember what perennials are in your garden, it is always a good idea to add a plant tag with their name. A plant tag makes it easier for you to prevent injuring roots when you drill holes to put more plants nearby. Bare-root plants might not show growth right away. You’ll also be able to identify the cultivars you’re cultivating by adding tags. You could have purchased hardy geraniums on your winter shopping trip, but how will you identify them when they begin to bloom in the spring? Are they Geranium Azure Rush, Rozanne, or Blushing Turtle? Labels simplify your life!

Add Mulch

Mulch should be spread all the way around the plant’s crown base. Mulch inhibits weed growth while assisting in soil moisture retention. Also, it gives your garden beds a “completed aspect.” As organic mulch breaks down over time and adds organic material that aids enhance drainage in rocky soil, such as double-ground hardwood, pine needles, or bark nuggets, it also improves the soil.

Create a Container Garden

The same procedures apply if you want to use your new bare-root perennials to build a container garden. Verify your plants, saturate the roots, spread the roots, and maintain the crown level with the soil. Choose a container with drainage holes, though, as roots can decay if they are submerged in water. A lightweight potting mix made specifically for pots is another option. In the summer heat, container gardens require extra watering since they dry out more rapidly than garden beds. With repeated watering, heavy garden soil compacts, which can choke roots. Lightweight potting mixtures drain well and allow the plant’s roots to spread out and expand.

Water the Plants

To evaluate their water requirements, check your new plants periodically. Many plants require about 1 inch of water per week, so if there isn’t much rain, you might need to help Mother Nature. How do you determine when to water? Insert your index finger one inch deep into the ground close to the plant’s base. No need to water if it is wet. It’s time for a drink if it’s dry!

Even if a perennial is advertised as “drought tolerant” or “water-wise,” like Delosperma Fire Spinner, newly planted perennials still require regular watering to become firmly established in their new environment during the first year. Make sure the soil where these perennials are planted has adequate drainage, but don’t forget to water them as they establish roots and expand. You’ll later profit from these gorgeous environmentally friendly products!

Fertilize the New Perennials

During the growing season, perennials require feeding. When the plant has three sets of new leaves, treat your perennial with an organic liquid fertilizer that encourages flowering. Start with a half-strength treatment on young plants. (Directions are on the label.) Midway through the summer, give the plants another feeding to encourage strong root growth.

Container gardens might require feeding more frequently. Nutrients from the soil seep out as the water passes through the container. A fertilizer that dissolves in water aids in replacing nutrients that plants require to grow. Observe the fertilizer’s label’s instructions.

Really, it’s easy to raise bare-root perennials. Your garden will soon be bursting with magnificent foliage and lovely blooms, all of which were started from those bags of dry roots that you hurriedly purchased during the gloomy days of winter. Don’t you feel happy that you did? Happy expanding!

Can I plant hardy geraniums now?

Among the most common garden perennials are hardy geraniums, sometimes known as cranesbills. And it’s clear why. They require little care and maintenance, are hardy, easy to grow, and tolerant of a variety of environmental factors.

The bloom color ranges from vibrant to subdued violet, blue, pink, magenta, and white hues, and many have appealing veining in a stronger, contrasting hue. Throughout the summer and well into autumn, several types flower nonstop for months at a time, and some even begin blooming as early as late April. When in bloom, the flowers, which are typically rather small, are produced in such great quantities that they almost completely cover the plants.

Numerous species’ hand-like foliage, which exhibits varied quilting, veining, and color blotching, is also very appealing in and of itself. Additionally, because many of the popularly cultivated kinds are low-growing, they make wonderful ground cover plants due to their dense, carpet-like leaf.

They should not be mistaken with the very similarly related pelargoniums, which aren’t and are primarily used as summer bedding plants, as they are cold- and frost-hardy.


There are kinds that can thrive in direct sunlight, light shade, and even pretty deep shadow. They generally thrive in early morning and late afternoon sun, while some, like Geranium sanguineum and Geranium pratense and their variants, grow well in full light as long as the soil has enough moisture.

Hardy geranium varieties

There is at least one hardy geranium for every garden, every gardener, and every circumstance as there are about 70 species and 700 types to choose from!

Here are the top 10 items that the Royal Horticultural Society suggests:

  • Ann Folkard, geranium
  • (Cinereum Group) Ballerina named Geranium
  • Clarkei Kashmir White Geranium
  • Red geraniums
  • Theodora Mavis Simpson
  • Ingersoll Orion
  • The Mrs. Kendall Clark geranium
  • Wageningen’s Geranium x oxonianum
  • Renardii geranium
  • Geranium Rozanne (Gerwat)/Jolly Bee

Planting hardy geraniums

Hardy geraniums can be planted at any time of year, but planting in the fall or winter will ensure that the plants take root effectively and provide an abundance of flowers in their first season. For planting from late autumn to late winter, mail-order vendors often offer bare-rooted plants.

Make a hole that is sufficiently large to readily fit the rootball. Fork in a layer of organic material, such as compost or planting compost, at the bottom of the hole.

Place the rootball in the planting hole, adjusting the planting depth until the rootball’s top is level with the soil and the rootball is planted at the same depth as it was growing initially.

Fill the planting hole with the excavated soil after adding more organic matter to it. To maintain soil moisture and aid in weed control, thoroughly water the area around the tree, then sprinkle a granular general feed over the surrounding soil. Finally, put a 5-7.5cm (2-3in) deep mulch of well-rotted garden compost or bark chips around the tree’s root area.

How to care for hardy geraniums

The majority of hardy geraniums are undemanding, low-maintenance plants.

When the weather is dry during the first year, water thoroughly. To maintain healthy plant growth in succeeding years, watering may be required during extended dry spells.

Late spring mulching around the plants will assist retain soil moisture and control weed growth.

Plants may start to seem messy with sloppy growth after the first early flush of blossoms has faded. After the initial flowering, the majority benefit from a trim to freshen the foliage and promote more blooms. To get rid of the outdated, messy growth, just cut the plants with a pair of shears or secateurs, or more forcefully if necessary, to a height of 5-7.5cm (2-3in) above the ground.

Then feed them with a liquid plant food to promote new growth and additional flowering flushes. After each flowering, pruning and fertilizing can be done again to extend the flowering season of many kinds well into the fall.

With the arrival of colder weather in late autumn, most geraniums’ foliage will start to fade. If you trim the plants’ leftover stems and leaves, they’ll grow new, fresh growth the following spring.

Over time, hardy geranium plants expand, spread, and form enormous clumps. These can be chopped into halves or quarters with a sharp spade. This can be done in the spring when they begin to grow or in the autumn. Every three to five years, divide them to maintain good growth and flowering.

How long do bare root plants take to grow?

There are several bareroot plants of deciduous trees, shrubs, and roses available. In order to prepare the plants for transportation, growers dig the plants when they are dormant, wash the soil from the roots, and then wrap the roots in moist packing material. Buying bareroot plants as opposed to plants cultivated in containers has a number of advantages:

  • Usually, bareroot plants are less expensive.
  • They frequently get going faster.
  • A wider range might be available, particularly through mail order.

Is your plant balled and burlapped or is it in a container? Read How to Plant a Tree or Shrub if that applies.

Spring is when bareroot plants are sold, and they need to be planted as soon as possible. To ensure their survival and long-term success, planting should be done properly. Be aware that bareroot plants “wake up” slowly. After planting, you should anticipate waiting four to six weeks before observing any growth.

Which is preferable, geranium cuttings rooted in soil or water?

Geranium plant cuttings take root quite well and don’t require any herbicide or fungicide, yet complete success is unlikely. Simply place your cutting in a container filled with warm, damp potting soil. Place the pot in a bright area away from direct sunlight and give it a good watering.

Geranium plant cuttings are prone to decaying, therefore don’t cover the pot. When the soil feels dry, water the pot. Your geranium plant cuttings should have roots in only a week or two.

Allow your cuttings to remain in the open air for three days before planting them in the ground if you intend to do so. By doing this, the clipped tip will begin to develop a callus that will help protect it from rot and fungus in the non-sterile garden soil.

When bare root plants are delivered, what should you do with them?

If you bought bare root plants in the past, you will need to care for them until it is safe to put them outside. They should be potted in quality potting soil and kept in a cool area, like a garage. While being insulated from the bitter cold, the plants should receive some light.

Can bare root plants be grown in pots?

The procedure for planting bare root trees in pots is fairly similar to planting them in the ground, even if you only have a tiny patio or backyard. Do not feel as though your options are limited because there are numerous good trees that may be grown in pots.

For container-grown bare root trees:

  • Unpack the tree carefully, then separate the roots and immerse them in water for three to six hours or overnight.
  • Use a container that will have room for growth for at least two years.
  • The pot should have sufficient drainage, and the bottom should be lined with crocks.
  • Just barely fill the container with soil that has been compost-enhanced. Avoid using too much compost since the more the soil matches the dirt in the ground, the better the tree will survive when it is transplanted if you wish to plant the trees in the ground in the future.
  • On your young bare root trees, avoid using chemicals, potting soil, or fertilizer. These products will destroy your young trees, say the Arbor Day Foundation’s experts.
  • Spread out the roots of the bare root tree and position it in the middle of the pot.
  • Put soil in the pot and cover it.
  • Add a stake for support if necessary.
  • Water well and keep well-watered.