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McKay Nursery Company

Basics on Mail-Order Sizes, Shipping & Types of Plants

Sep 20, 2016 3:42:02 PM

Written by

McKay Staff

in Gardening 101 How-to Guide



When do we ship our bare root?

  • Most of our bare root deciduous trees & shrubs are shipped approximately October 10th to November 1st.
  • Bare root peonys can ship early fall (approx. early September).
  • There are some other plants like bare root lilacs that will ship in spring

How to Plant Bare Root - Watch our step-by-step planting video!

  • Keep in mind, bare root material will normally arrived without any leaves, blooms and look like a stick. This material is not dead!
  • Depending on the nursery stock you can plant in fall (before frost) or early spring.
  • The roots of all bare root plant material should always be soaked in water overnight before planting. (If soaking overnight is not possible, at least soak the roots while you are digging a hole and installing them.)
  • When planting make sure the hole is at least twice the width of the root-ball, and deep enough to take the roots without bending or kinking them. If some roots are very long, trim them cleanly with some clean pruning shears.
  • Hold the plant in the hole in one hand and fill the hole, poking soil between the roots.
  • Watch a video to learn more about our bare root plant material vs. plastic containers.

How to Water & Care for Bare Root  

  • Immediately after planting, soak the soil around each bare root plant to get rid of any air pockets.
  • Water the plants again the next day, and fill in any areas where the soil has sunken are the plants.
  • Pruning is also important and best done by thinning out any small or broken branches and reducing the number of stems that are on the plant.
  • Keep in mind, bare root plant material may need up to 6 weeks to properly leaf out. Water them as needed one to three times a week depending on the soil you have. For sandy or lighter soils = more water. For heavy clay soils = don't over water.

Learn More: Watch our interview to learn more about what bare root nursery stock is.






When do we ship our Container/Grow Bag plants?

  • Spring - fall (depending on weather and your shipping zone it can be as early as mid-April and until late October. Our nursery stock is grown in zone 5 and we ship out of zone 5.

How to plant nursery stock in containers/grow bags - Watch our short video here!

  • Remove the plant from the container. 
  • When the plant is removed from its pot, loosen the root-ball a little so that the roots can extend into the surrounding soil.
  • It is essential that the planting hole is about twice the width of the container and approximately the same depth. The soil level around the plant should be exactly the same as it was in the container. 

How to properly water container/grow bag plants - Watch our short video here!

  • Water upon delivery. 
  • Container grown plants are grown in a "soil-less" media which is designed to drain water as best as possible. For that reason, container plants will need water every day for the first week or so.
  • Water container plants enough each day to saturate the root mass, but NOT necessarily the soil around the root mass. Again if sandy or lighter soils, you can water them more.
  • After the first week or two, the roots will have started to grow into the soil you have planted them into and you can ease up on the frequency.
  • For the third to fourth week, approximately water 3-5 times, but atleast once a week. Adjust your watering with the weather (hotter and drier = water more. If it rains an inch or more = skip one or two watering sessions).

Learn More: See our "how-to" video on planting container plants & the proper way to water. 






When do we ship our balled and burlap material?

  • B&B Evergreens (including all sizes of... Colorado Blue and Green, Black Hills Spruce and Scotch Pine) ship from early September to early October.
  • All B&B deciduous shade trees and shrubs ship approximately from mid September to mid October. Only exception are the B&B Sienna and Autumn blaze maples (need to color up prior to digging) approximately ship early October to early November depending on weather.
  • Keep in mind B&B nursery stock can only be shipped by our delivery trucks within a 60-100 mile radius of Waterloo, WI due to their massive size and weight. FedEx cannot ship and oversize items.

How to plant balled and burlap plant material (photos below)

  • Upon receiving immediately dig your hole, but make sure not to dig too deep. You want the base of the tree to be level with the ground.
  • Place your B&B plant in the hole you dug
  • Cut the rope around the burlap
  • Bend back the wire and back-fill your soil around the plant.



How to water your balled and burlap nursery stock - 

  • Water upon delivery.
  • Within the first week, water daily Water B&B plants enough each day to saturate the root ball, but NOT the soils you have planted them into (place the tip of the hose near the neck of the plant).
  • The second week, you will probably need to water 3-5 times
  • Fourth to fifth week, around once a week. Adjust your watering habits again depending upon the weather and your soil type.
  • After the first growing season, most plants will need little to any additional watering.



No matter what kind of nursery stock, if you're ever unsure as to whether or not you're watering too little or too much test the soil by placing your fingers near the base of the plant. Also, add shredded bark mulch around the plant to help regulate moisture levels (watch our popular YouTuve videos on shredded bark mulch vs. stone mulch and Watch our "how-to" video on basic watering techniques to make sure your plant is living a happy & healthy life.





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