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Why Landscapers Benefit from Dormant Plants

Create Healthier, More Resilient Landscapes with Bareroots and Bulbs
Dormant Plants

Dormant Plants Offer Many Advantages

  • Easy to plant
  • Higher survivability rate
  • Better overall growth

When you landscape with dormant plants, you take advantage of their natural life cycle. In the fall, plants let go of foliage and flowers and store large reserves of carbohydrates. In the winter, they reduce their metabolic activity to survive cold temperatures and snowfall. In their dormant stage, they often appear lifeless. In reality, they're just getting ready to emerge in the spring bigger and better than before. That's why shipping plants in their dormant state is the best way to deliver a healthy, ready-to-grow plant.

Dormant Shrubs roots

A fast-growing landscape shrub starts with the roots! Dormant plants, like the K. van Bourgondien shrub on the left, have healthy, fibrous root systems, unlike the pot-bound example on the right.


Dormant Rhizome

This large, well-hydrated, dormant iris rhizome will emerge when the conditions are right. The dry foliage on it won't cause any issues.

Dormant plants and bulbs offer landscapers a distinct advantage over potted plants. An actively growing potted plant is much more sensitive to weather conditions. Before planting outside, you must make sure the conditions are just right—not too sunny and not too cold—or the potted plant may suffer or even die. Bareroots and bulbs give you a longer planting window. This makes them great for landscapers who are often juggling planting with mowing and other maintenance projects. Bareroots and bulbs leaf out when the timing and temperatures are right—and they perform better and mature more quickly than potted plants.

Not only is a dormant plant best for planting, it's best for shipping, too. We learned many years ago there's no more reliable way to provide our customers with healthy, ready-to-grow products.

The Smart Choice for Landscapers

Dormant plants are the better choice for landscapers. Here's why:

  • Dormant/bareroot plants have a higher survival rate than potted plants. For landscapers, reputation is everything. What better way to create positive word of mouth than by planting reliable stock that grows and thrives.
  • Because dormant plants and bulbs are ready to plant, there is no hardening-off process and no risk of sunburn. This is a big plus for landscapers during the busy spring planting season.
  • The roots of dormant plants adapt more quickly to native soil conditions.
  • Dormant plants are less likely to suffer from dehydration. Without mature leaves and blooms to support, they can focus their energy below the soil, sending out healthy roots to find water and nutrients.
Dormant Bloom

By planting ornamentals in a dormant state, you'll grow healthier plants with more vibrant displays.

Dormant Storage

The roots on this peony are well developed. No worries about it being pot-bound. While this peony's buds are ready to explode with growth, they aren't breaking growth yet.

What are the Advantages of Dormant Plants over Potted Plants?

There are lots of reasons for landscapers to plant dormant perennials and bulbs rather than potted plants.

  • Most potted plants you buy at nurseries are already halfway through their bloom cycle and more stressed than if they were growing in the ground. When you plant dormant perennials and bulbs, your customers will be able to enjoy the plants' first blooms of the season.
  • Because dormant plants experience reduced transplant shock, they establish faster and become more resilient sooner than potted nursery stock.
  • Dormant plants have lots of carbohydrates packed in their buds, stems and roots and are ready to explode with growth after planting. Potted plants, on the other hand, have used up lots of their reserves and have less energy to adapt to their new conditions.
  • You don't have to worry about the roots of dormant plants being pot-bound. You can see dormant plants' stronger, more developed root systems.
As the old saying goes:
"Don't judge a book
by its cover!"

When it comes to gardening, good things come to those who wait. In short, all that's needed is a little faith in nature and to remember that our plants have been grown, cared for and stored properly to ensure your success.

Patience is the key to growing dormant plants. Rest assured, your patience will be rewarded. With time, your plants will emerge from their humble beginnings and flourish.

Just remember that when your package arrives, the dormant plants and bulbs may be discolored and look disfigured. They are not dead or in poor health. Like people, plants come in all sizes and shapes. This does not limit their potential.

Reassure Your Clients About Dormant Plants

For homeowners accustomed to seeing live, potted plants, dormant roots can be a different experience. Instead of seeing leafed out and blooming plants, they may be unsettled to see dried up plant material. You may need to educate them that perfectly healthy dormant plants look this way. Iris rhizomes are a good example:

Shipping States of Healthy Iris Rhizomes

Dormant Plants Shipping Stage

Depending on the time of year they're shipped, dormant plants can arrive in different stages. Iris rhizomes are a perfect example. If shipped early, they may still have some green foliage. If shipped later, the foliage may be dried. All will perform equally well after planting.

A Quick Guide to Determine if Your Stock is Healthy

Here's a quick guide to determine if your dormant plant is healthy and ready to plant.


  • Dormant Bulbs 1

    Healthy bulbs are firm with a weight appropriate for their size. Don't plant bulbs that exhibit excessive mold or visible rot.

  • Dormant Bulbs 2

    Beautiful flowers can come from scarred bulbs. A bulb that is smaller or has some scarring like these tulip bulbs can be planted and expected to perform well.

  • Dormant Bulbs 3

    While excessive mold is an issue, a light coating of "storage mold" is harmless and will not affect the bulb's performance.

  • Dormant Bulbs video

    Check out our comprehensive
    for even more information and videos!


  • Dormant Tubers 1

    Tubers, like this healthy dahlia tuber, should feel firm and the correct weight for its size. They should not feel hollow or look excessively dried out.

  • Dormant Tubers 2

    Some tubers may have "storage mold." Check to see if they are well hydrated. Storage mold should not affect their growth.

  • Dormant Tubers 3

    Tubers with both small and larger root systems will perform well if properly cared for.

  • Dormant Tubers video

    Check out our comprehensive
    for even more information and videos!


  • Dormant Perennials 1

    Look for firm, well-hydrated roots that are neither slimy nor wet. A healthy perennial grows well if the crown and root system are not dried out.

  • Dormant Perennials 2

    If a perennial has "eyes" (many, but not all do), look for brightly colored eyes. They may be white, green or another color. The eyes should be firm, undamaged and should not be elongating or budding.

  • Dormant Perennials 3

    Some dormant plants may have splotches or a light coating on them. Called "storage mold," it's no reason to worry and will not affect growth as long as the roots are still firm.

  • Dormant Perennials video

    Check out our comprehensive
    for even more information and videos!


  • Dormant Plants 1

    Dormant plants, like this iris, take on many unique forms. All should be firm and hydrated, without any excessive mold or rot.

  • Dormant Plants 2

    If the fleshy portion of its root system is firm, a dormant plant that looks like this iris rhizome is no cause for worry. It will perform as expected.

  • Dormant Plants 3

    Some dormant plants, like this iris, might have offshoots or "pups." That's no reason to worry. In fact, the more pups the better. They help promote new growth more quickly.

  • Dormant Plants video

    Check out our comprehensive

    for even more information and videos!


  • Dormant Shrubs 1

    Shrubs should have strong stems and branches that are hydrated. Like all dormant woody plants, shrubs should not be rotting or drying out.

  • Dormant Shrubs 2

    In the case of this lilac, the plant should be well-hydrated with firm buds that appear swollen but not quite ready to break.

  • Dormant Shrubs 3

    To check a dormant shrub's health, gently scratch away a bit of bark at the shrub's base. Look for hydrated flesh that is white or green.

  • Dormant Shrubs video

    Check out our comprehensive
    for even more information and videos!

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