Fruit trees & bushes shipped but still frozen here with snow- what to do?

Help! Maybe I’m over-reacting, not sure, new to fruit growing.

I just got an email saying my $600 order is arriving - tomorrow! I’ve still got a foot or more snow on most areas of my village lot where I’m planting these (this is the year I’m really getting the whole show going!), and all ground is frozen save for maybe some small fringe of a few inches adjacent to house.

Spring’s about on time here in the UP, 5a/Dfb - even considering last weekend’s 1-2’ snowstorm & tonight’s predicted ice storm. If nothing else comes & things are normal it’ll still be at very least 2 weeks before I can dig, maybe more.

I’ve got 3 plums, 2 pears, 3 Amelanchier, 1 apple, 5 haskap, 1 grape, 6 Ribes, 1 blueberry, 2 aronia, 2 Nanking cheery, & an elderberry on the way (plus a bit more from other nurseries I think might wait a bit longer)! All bare root, I think.

I was sort of thinking this very established nursery would know it’s still winter here most years & ship closer to their later indicated date in 1st week May rather than their earliest - this isn’t exactly Dixie! (or maybe they assumed I’d know it’s no big deal calm down!?)

Anyway, I can’t possibly dig or plant – or even heel in for weeks - and the only storage area I have is my unheated garage (I don’t have a ‘cool porch or basement’). It’s likely that low temperatures can be 10-20f off & on with days 30-45, and while I wait for the snow to melt and ground to thaw it could possibly get above 50f in the garage.

Possibly - if I shovel the foot or so of snow off my vegetable garden area tomorrow - I could heel in in maybe 5-7 days when it thaws if weather cooperates. Looks like next week forecast is ~15-30 nights & 30-50 days.

Anyway, I hope everybody will tell me I’m over-reacting!

I can check the roots, add moist sawdust, store in garage (or outside in snow in shaded N-facing area?), but the roots will still get below freezing off & on.

So asking advice on best way to prepare & store these for the next 2-3 weeks until I can dig & plant, which ones are most sensitive, etc. They appear to have shipped today, so will have been maybe 24-48h above dormant temperatures.

I hope that I’m just a worried new fruit parent… I was sort of hoping to take days or so off work & do all the digging (not blasting or chiseling into frozen soil!) before the shipping was announced (Fedco, for example, sent me an email a week ago, saying the ship date for a much smaller order from them will be appx. May 1-5th: perfect - tho I wish they hadn’t run out of Mt. Royal plums after I ordered!).

Thanks in advance (I hope)!

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Perhaps @EliindaUP can help.

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Maybe put all the plants roots into a big tub(s),covered with wet sawdust or mulch and run a heating tape throughout.Connect it to a timer to turn on a few minutes each hour,during the coldest periods.If the garage gets too warm,a window could be opened.

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I personally would bury the roots in moist sawdust if possible and then shovel a bunch of snow on top of the plants that would provide moisture as it melts and keeps them nice and cool and sheltered from the elements and dormant (this is assuming they arrived still fully dormant). I’ve even heard of people burying the whole shipping box in snow and just digging it up and checking the roots/packing medium every once in awhile to ensure they stay moist. Heal in/plant in ground as soon as the ground becomes workable.

Just my 2 cents.


this has happened to me a few times. leave your plants in the boxes after you check for damage. lay them flat on the ground preferably in a shaded low spot in the yard and bury them with at least 2ft of snow. no snow, bury in hay or woodchips. that will keep them wet and sleeping until you are ready to plant.


Your plants are presumably bare root, and not in leaf at present. I’d suggest burying them in the snow on the north side of the house. That way, they’ll stay dormant. Make a big pile of snow in the shade, so it stays dormant while the rest of the snow melts.


Hello, Robert! This happens to me all the time. No worries. Make sure the roots stay damp. Wet sawdust, newspaper, etcetera. Put a garbage bag, shopping bag, ect. around roots to prevent drying out. They can take some freezing at this point as long as it is not very hard. I would keep them in the garage, and as long as it doesn’t freeze hard they will be fine. Or you can bury them under a tarp in the snow, wood chips, ect., but it is extra work. Not sure where your at, but here in the western U.P. the forecast looks pretty good starting this weekend. I will be doing some planting then, although it is always a muddy, soggy affair this early.

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Thanks all for replies so far- so it seems it’s survivable, just looking for a consensus on in snow or in garage.

The N side of my house (front) is pretty snowy also, so if I were to bury them there I think they’d stay stable long enough to get the backyard/vegetable area thawed to heel-in. Or maybe even dig planting holes for some of them.

As of now 90% or so of my lot is snow-covered from ~6" to a foot or so;just the walkways bare, but much of that’s from last weekend’s storm (A week ago I was thinking things might be thawed enough by now to get a bunch of soil samples to send off for testing so I’d be ready when the fruit came later this month…)

It’ll probably be a month before I can plant anything out or start in the garden - thus far I’ve just got various Alliums started inside (& some winter stratifying stuff - lots actually - under the snow in jugs). In a few days will start a few trays of tomatoes - I have 16 different ones this year having gotten increasingly excited (or manic) with results last two years - then the peppers, eggplants & the whole show after that. It’s going to be a busy everything year but starting year 3 at my house I’m making fast progress.

As I say: by the time I’m dead it ought to be just perfect! (but good enough before then)

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Nice. I just found Nadia eggplant last year. They do really well, even with cool nights. So far we have just started celery, onions, parsley, and globe artichoke. Hope you have a good season.

id be worried day temps get too warm in the garage and wake it up, then cold at night will kill or damage it. under the snow in shade like the n side of a house will keep it cold and dormant until you’re ready to plant it. done this several times and all survived and grew well. got some loganberries from Tnhunter under the snow right now.

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Does anyone have rabbit or deer issues with plants buried in snow, especially as the snow melts?

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Ok they arrived today OK - this is my first delivery of nursery by mail, what efficient wrapping… Things looked good inside with one tiny bright green bud on one & a little white leaflet on one of the Ribes,sawdust moist. So I rewetted a little & wrapped the soil ends back loosely, but those in a 5gal pail, dry sawdust over the roots to top of pail, then the pain in a plastic tote & that in another (I had them handy & figured more insulation for roots against t changes was good), left the tops open, and all that in the garage away from much window light. I’ll have to watch that no mice get to them… there’s plenty of free birdseed in there for them already (which I keep on hand for the free birds of course). Any recommendations on ‘too cold’ or ‘too warm’ while I shovel off some planting sites & wait for thaw?

Snow is a great insulator chances are you dont have frozen soil under it, you may be able to just dig them in en Maße until planting time
Kent wa

I haven’t had it happen to nursery stock, but I wouldn’t put it past voles to damage anything buried in snow. They’re extra hungry now, too, and eager to munch something tender while well hidden. The plow guy pushed one of my apple trees over while pushing back the snow banks. It was bent sideways and in the middle of the snowbank for the last month or so. Now that the snow has melted, I can see that the voles just annihilated the bark.



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my fig on the south side of the house looks like that. im afraid to see whats under the snow in the orchard. seen alot of vole sign last fall so i put out bait blocks all around the property. hopefully it killed them off before they got my trees and bushes.

Years ago I had a neighbor who was a subdealer for Starks. He would receive bare root trees in the fall and store them all winter in an unheated barn. People could buy and plant through the winter then in late spring he would plant what didn’t sell.