Bare Root Tree Planting

Planting Bare Root Fruit Trees

If you’ve ever thought about planting bare root trees, do it! It’s easy and now (December-February) is the perfect time to get started.

R and I have planted various potted fruit trees over the past year and we’re very excited to add bare root peaches, nectarines, apples, and an aprium to our growing orchard. After extensive research, mostly on R’s part, we ordered our bare root trees online from Grow Organic.

The Trees

The first step was deciding on which kinds of fruit trees would thrive in our mild to warm Southern California climate. This meant looking for trees that require 300 or less chill hours annually. The second criteria was taste- we preferred having more trees with fruit that is delicious to eat right off the tree compared to being better suited for canning and making pies. Thirdly, we did not want too many of the harvest periods to overlap- although we have talked about creating a co-op system, but still! Lastly, we needed to consider trees that are good pollinators for each other. There is a whole multitude of other factors such as blooms, our hardiness growing zone, soil, etc. Below is a list of trees we both agreed on:

  1. Sundowner Apple (semi-dwarf)
  • 200-300 chill hours
  • Zones 6-9 (Southern California is in Zone 10, so we’re taking a risk)
  • Harvest is between October 15-November 10, in its 3rd year
  • Needs full sun
  • Pink Lady sibling; medium sized fruit; crisp with an excellent flavor
  1. Dorsett Golden Apple (semi-dwarf)
  • 100 chill hours
  • Zones 5-10
  • Harvest is between June 25-July 10, in its 4-5th year
  • Needs full sun
  • Firm; golden skin; sweet like Golden Delicious
  1. Saturn Peach (semi-dwarf)
  • 200-300 chill hours
  • Zones 5-8 (suited to warmer climates)
  • Harvest between July 1-July 15, in its 3rd year
  • Needs fertile, well drained soils
  • Heavy producing trees; Dave Wilson’s Taste Test Top Scorer; sweet flavor; white fleshed; beautiful blooms
  1. Babcock Peach (semi-dwarf)
  • 250-300 chill hours
  • Zones 7-9 (great for mild climates)
  • Harvest between July 7-July 20, in its 3rd year
  • Needs fertile, well drained soils
  • Developed in southern California; small to medium with white flesh; nearly fuzzless skin; Dave Wilson’s Taste Test Top Scorer; sweet and juicy
  1. Eva’s Pride Peach (semi-dwarf)
  • 100-200 chill hours
  • Zones 4-8 (suited to warmer climates)
  • Harvest between June 20-July 10, in its 1st year
  • Needs fertile well-drained soils
  • Reddish, orange skin; yellow flesh; delicious and mild; great for baking and storing
  1. Red Baron Peach (semi-dwarf)
  • 250-300 chill hours
  • Zones 6-9 (suited to warmer climates)
  • Harvest between July 20-August 1, in its 3rd year
  • Needs fertile, well-drained soils
  • Red blossoms; Dave Wilson’s Taste Test Top Scorer; large, firm; yellow flesh; juicy and flavorful
  1. Double Delight Zaiger Nectarine (semi-dwarf)
  • 300 chill hours
  • Zones 7-9 (suited to warmer climates; dislikes high humidity)
  • Harvest between July 5-July 20, in its 3rd year
  • Needs moderate fertility and good drainage
  • Beautiful pink flowers; Dave Wilson’s Taste Test Top Scorer; dark red skin with yellow flesh; fuzzless; excellent flavor
  1. Flavor Delight Aprium (semi-dwarf)
  • Apricot (75%) and Plum (25%) mix
  • 200-300 chill hours
  • Zones 5-9 (suited to warmer climates)
  • Needs well drained, moderately fertile soil
  • Harvest between June 1-June 15, in its 4-5th year
  • Looks more like an apricot with barely any fuzz; medium sized with yellow flesh; excellent flavor

Digging the Holes

Knowing that I would be the one receiving and planting the trees while R would be surfing secret spots in Baja, he dug all eight holes to help me out prior to leaving. Each hole was 3ft wide and 3ft deep. This is to make sure the roots of the tree have enough room when being planted and are covered 3 inches above the highest root stalk on the trunk. Digging moist soil is easiest, and since it had just rained here, that wasn’t a problem. However, if your soil is hard, dig as much as you can before breaking too much of a sweat, then fill the area with water and let it soak in before digging the rest of the hole.


Trees Arrive!

Since this was a tag team effort, I was able to plant the trees the day after they were delivered to our doorstep. Upon arrival, I opened the box immediately. I took all eight bare root trees out of the plastic bags, saving the wood shavings to add to the mulch later, and put them in a large plastic garbage can. I then filled the can with water and soaked them over night. Generally, bare root trees should be unpackaged the minute you receive them or buy them at a nursery, then soaked in water for 12-24 hours prior to planting.


It’s always good to have a plan and map out where your trees will be planted, and keep a log for future reference.

The grafted elbow of the tree, on the trunk above the roots, should face north or northeast. Cover with the same soil dug out of the hole 3in above the highest root stalk. Then make a mound up the trunk of the tree. Around the mound, leave room for a circular trench. The trench, however, should still be at least 3in above the roots. This is for watering purposes.

After the tree is upright and planted, fill the trench with water until it’s about to overflow. The indented donut around the tree will ensure the root ball and roots receive the water. New trees will need water immediately after being planted and it’s a good idea to cover the soil with wood chip mulch after.


Planting bare root trees was easy, inexpensive, and a new experience for me. With much care and attention, I can’t wait to see the future fruits of my, I mean, our, labor!

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