How to Grow
Bare Root Perennials

Bare root perennials are an easy and cost-effective way to bring a host of colourful and attractive easy-care plants to your beds and borders.

A perennial plant flowers in late spring and summer year after year and when they are sent to you as a bare root type, they have a mass of soil-free healthy roots and are ready to be planted straight away.

Our bare root perennials can be planted directly into the ground in early autumn or early to mid-spring, whilst the soil is warm and has a good amount of moisture.

Types of bare root perennials

There’s a wide variety of popular bare root perennials available, including classics such as agapanthus, astilbe, hardy geranium, bearded iris, verbascum, peony and eryngium. Some bare root perennials prefer sunny or part-sunny locations, so check the care instructions with each variety that you buy.

When to plant

Bare root perennials can be planted in early autumn or early to mid-spring, when the ground has decent moisture.

How to store

In ideal conditions, bare root perennials need to be planted as soon as they arrive to you, or within a few days. They can be kept for a week or so if stored in a cool place.

How to prepare the soil

The roots will remain dormant until the soil warms from about April onwards. Bare root perennials are perfect for beds and borders, with some suitable for large containers. If container planted, they may need planting into the ground later on when roots grow. Prepare the soil several weeks before planting by digging in compost or well-rotted manure and remove any weeds.

How to plant in the ground

Soak the roots in a bucket of cold water for around an hour before planting to help hydrate the plant.

Dig a hole that is deep and wide enough to take the entire root mass. Place the plant in the hole and spread the roots out; the main stem should sit just above the surface of the soil. Fill the hole with soil and firm around the stem of the plant with your hand, or you can use your foot for larger perennials. Give them a good watering.

  • Note on Paeony: Paeony must not be planted too deep as this will delay the flowering. Plant so the ‘eyes’ on the top of the bare root plant are just on the soil surface.
  • Note on Iris: Iris should be planted so that the rhizome (the fleshy root like part with the leaf fan attached) is just on the soil surface.

How to plant in pots

Soak the roots in a bucket of cold water for around an hour before planting to help hydrate the plant. Ensure you choose the right size pot for each plant to give the roots room to grow. Use a multi-purpose compost and tap the pot as you fill to settle it around the roots then firm it down and water well.

How to water

If the weather conditions are hot and dry until they are well established, the plants may need watering once or twice a week during hot weather.

How to feed

Bare root perennials are very easy to grow and maintain and do not usually require extra feeding if the soil has been prepared properly. However, if the plant begins to look yellowy or is in poor health with little growth, a liquid fertiliser can be applied.

How to deadhead

According to each type’s instructions, some plants may need dead-heading in summer when flowers are appearing. Dead-heading is the process of removing small or wilted flowers so that others can grow and flourish fully. Use secateurs to carefully snip flowers that need dead-heading.

How to cut back the stems

Once the perennial has stopped flowering in the autumn, use secateurs to trim the stems back to about 2.5cm above the soil. This can also be done in the spring if you prefer. Cutting the stems back will encourage vigorous new growth. Allow the plant to grow and take shape again in the summer, as long as it had a successful first season.