Bill's Bareroot Tips​

Bill explains Bare Root Plants and offers a few tips

First, almost all bareroot plants will re-establish without any special help as long as they are provided appropriate environmental conditions. A bare root plant is prepared with the same process that you use for repotting plants.  The only difference is that they are boxed up after being prepared and shipped to the destination before they are repotted.

Most of the orchid plants sold in the USA originated in Asia before being sent to the USA for potting and preparation for local consumption.  Wholesale Floriculture Crops represents an estimated $7 Billion dollar industry in the USA with Wholesale Orchid Plant Crops representing approximately $150 million dollars a year and the only growing sector of the Floriculture Crops Industry.

Mode of transportation of these plants from any country to the USA is regulated by law and is bare root.

Are there problems from time to time?  Absolutely, it is not possible to have 100% safe plant delivery of Orchid plants especially when these plants are handled by several parties outside the control of the grower/nursery while in route to the destination. 

What do you need to know before buying bare root plants?  First and most important is to be prepared to insure your delivery address is a safe place to send plants. You do not want plants sent to your home where they can be left outside in the cold or heat.  Deliveries left on porches or inside mailboxes which are exposed to sunlight or extreme heat or cold often result in damaged plants.  Avoid this situation at all costs.  No matter how great the plants are that are sent to you, if this happens they will die.  That being said, most of the time plants arrive safe and sound. Orchids are tenacious plants that do not die easily. 

What do you do when the plants arrive?  When you receive a bare-root plant, handle it gently as most likely there is new growth and new roots growing inside the box. Sometimes the plant can be budding or spiking.

  1. Don’t open the box until you are ready to treat the plants.  They are in the box and the environment is prepared within to allow the plant to live for an extended period of time. Keep the box in a cool dry and dark location until you open the box. Sunlight or heat will bake the plants and turn them into a black rotten mess. Once you open the box you need to take care of them immediately.
  2. Wear clean sterile rubber gloves to avoid contaminating the plants.  Open the box and very carefully remove the plants.  Use scissors to cut away wrapping paper and tape.  Do not tear as you may accidently damage the plant. 
  3. Carefully inspect each plant for damage or bruising. Using sterilized tools, cut off damaged areas. Damaged portions will not grow well and only invite disease and fungus.
  4. Place the plant in an airy and shady location and mist thoroughly with a recommended solution of fungicide suitable for your area. This can remedy any un-seen problems with fungus or algae that can collect on the plant as it is being rehydrated.  Provide good moving air at all times. I recommend you use a fan on its lowest setting.   The main reasons that orchids die are from too much sun, heat, over-watering, and fungus. Moisture and stagnant air often cause plants to be attacked by fungus, or pests.
  5. Prepare a treatment solution ‘Dip’ made from 2 gallons of rain or sodium free tap water.  Add in half cup of brown sugar, a normal dose fertilizer that includes an amount of vitamin E solution, 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite root-stimulant.
  6. Gently sink the plants in the treatment solution for about 1 hour.
  7. Remove and carefully lay the plants on newspaper in a dark location with high air circulation.  Again, I recommend you use a fan on the lowest setting.  Do not allow the plants to come into direct sunlight.  Gently turn the plant every 15 minutes until dry.
  8. Once the plants are dry, place them in the fresh clean pots in an upright position.  If your area has low humidity or the plants are very dehydrated, add a quarter inch layer of presoaked Sphagnum Moss to the bottom of the pot to add additional humidity. Place in a dark location with good air circulation.
  9. For Phalaenopsis plants, wait 24 hours and then pot. Gently wrap the plants in presoaked sphagnum moss and stuff carefully into a plastic pot sized correctly to hold the root ball.
  10. For Vanda genera, you can proceed to potting as well.  If hanging the roots from a basket, water as needed to keep plants hydrated properly.  We recommend sprinklers for 10 – 15 minutes a day in a well ventilated warm area.  If the Vanda is potted with medium then water as normal for your area.
  11. For the Dendrobium, Cattleya, and Oncidium plants, do not water for several days. This will stimulate growth in the plant.  This may take a few to 10 days. When new growth is seen, pot and water your plants normally.
  12. After your plant is potted, review and follow normal culture sheets for your plant.  You can find this on several popular local and international orchid websites.  Be sure to support your local orchid society and enjoy the knowledge and success of the local folks in your area who share your passion for orchids.

What happens if the plants arrive dead or damaged?  We will replace the plants. This does happen to about 2% of shipments. We cannot control Mother Nature or the USPS process.  Be sure to report the incident to our customer service representatives within 24 hours of delivery via email to and follow the instructions to obtain a free replacement shipment in the next available shipping cycle.  Try to find out why the plants arrived dead or damaged so the same thing won’t happen to the replacements.  Make sure you have a digital camera available to document the damages for the customer service representative.

Don’t be too eager to pot before the plants are ready. The plants do not need to be potted immediately.   Wait for new growth to allow the plant to recover from the repotting/shipping exercise.  The plant will establish faster.  Mist plant leaves and top of potting medium, but do not overwater. Keep the medium inside the pot on the dry side to promote root growth. Monitor your watering plant by plant by leaving an unfinished disposable wooden chop stick in the pot.  You can then pull the stick out from time to time to monitor the actual humidity level in the pot.  Once new root growth occurs, water more frequently as appropriate for the type of plant.

If you have questions be sure to send email to our customer service we will do our best to provide assistance. We are always available for questions no matter how long you have owned one of our plants.  Remember we guarantee our plants for 7 days after arrival, so insure you report any problems with our plants within that time.  We will guide you to a healthy plant or replace it!