One of the aims of the present study was to determine the effect of desiccation treatment on physiological quality and growth of 1+0 year-old bare-root Juniperus foetidissima Willd. seedlings. The second aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of hydrogel use to protect the roots against desiccation on the same properties. After the seedlings were lifted, they were divided into two groups (without hydrogel and with hydrogel). The seedlings with and without hydrogel were subjected to desiccation for different times (0, 1, 3 and 5 hours) under controlled conditions before planting. There were significant differences in the length of desiccation time and decreasing stem and root moisture content, stem water potential (psi) and root growth potential (RGP). It was found that these properties were higher in the seedlings with hydrogel than without hydrogel. In both treatments, root electrolyte leakage (REL) significantly affected desiccation and REL value increased with the duration of desiccation treatments. In addition, REL values of the seedlings with hydrogel were lower than of the seedlings without hydrogel. Seedling height, stem diameter, stem and root dry weight values of seedlings with and without hydrogel decreased with the length of desiccation time. In all desiccation times, diameter increase and survival of the seedlings treated with hydrogel were higher than of the seedlings not treated with hydrogel. For this reason, immersing the roots of the seedlings into hydrogel after lifting might protect the seedlings from potential desiccation stress and might improve planting success.