By Jeff Ray

NORTH DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Two winters ago I was thumbing through some plant catalogs and ran across some blackberries I wanted to try in the garden. After making sure the variety was on the “recommended” list from the Texas A&M Extension, I placed my order for mail deliver.

What I got in the mail about a month later was about a half-dozen sticks with roots attached, wrapped in wet newspaper. This is called bare root stock; don’t ever be intimidated if you want to buy your plants this way. There are some distinct advantages. I paid a visit to my new favorite tree nursery, the Sorelle Tree Farm in Mineola. Ed Donnelly and his wife offer up the most amazing selection of edible landscapes I have seen in north Texas. Ed took us through all the steps on how to plant bare root stock. The highlights include keeping the roots wet at all times as you wait to plant. Also, there might be a graft welt on the branch just above the root line. You want to make sure it is sits ABOVE the ground when you put the plant in. Ed explained to me the benefits of buying root stock. There is a near zero chance of the roots twisting themselves into a death circle like can happen to plants left in a container too long. Buying bare root stock is also less expensive and easier (less expensive) to ship.

All the barefoot plants I have put in so far have done extremely well. Studies have shown that at the five-year mark, bare root trees are equal to size in a large gallon version planted at the same time. This might be because the bare root tree in more quickly acclimated to its new world.

In the aftermath of the Big Cold (the record cold in February where it got down to a once-in-a-generation -2° at DFW Airport), I imagine there are going to be many plants being replaced. Don’t be shy in buying bare-root plants if that is looking like the best replacement for your yard.