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This winter, I'd like to purchase bare-root tree seedlings, which are shipped by mail in April. I'd like to plant them outside in large pots, but I'm concerned about the roots freezing, or other cold-related damage.

Should I keep these seedlings indoors until the nighttime low temperature passes some threshold? For example, should I keep the seedlings in a refrigerator until the nights tend to be above freezing? I'm in zone 5, so the April nights tend to be in the 20F range, and the days in the 40-50F range.

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You need to talk to the supplier of the trees - bare root should mean they've been dug up from the ground and shipped out very quickly, so depending on where they've been grown, its possible the climate where they come from is similar to yours, or it may not be. Your supplier should be able to advise on this. The usual advice for bare root plants is to heel them into the ground if the ground is frozen or waterlogged when they arrive, or soak the roots and plant out into a pre-prepared area as soon as possible if not - it's not a good idea to put them inside if they've been lifted from outdoors.

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