A number of soil microorganisms can convert insoluble forms of phosphorus (P) to an accessible form to increase plant yields. Phytate is such a large kind of insoluble organic phosphorus that plants cannot absorb directly in soil, so the objectives of this study were to isolate, screen phytate-degrading rhizobacteria (PDRB), and to select potential microbial inocula that could increase the P uptake by plants. In this study, a total of 24 soil samples were collected from natural habitats of eight poplar and pine planting areas from the eastern to southern China. 17 PDRB strains were preliminarily screened from the rhizosphere soil of poplars and pines by the visible decolorization in the phytate selective medium. The highest ratio of the total diameter (colony + halo zone) to the colony diameter of the isolates was JZ-GX1, 3.85. Afterward, 17 PDRB strains were further determined for their abilities to degrade sodium phytate based on the amount of liberated inorganic P in liquid phytate specific medium. The results showed that the phytase ability of the three highest PDRB strains: JZ-GX1, JZ-DZ1 and JZ-ZJ1 were up to 2.58, 2.36 and 2.24 U/mL, respectively, much better than most of the bacteria reported in previous studies. In the soil-plant experiment, compared to CK, the best three strains of PDRB all could significantly promote growth of poplar and Masson pine under container growing. The three efficient PDRB strains were identified as follow: JZ-GX1, Rahnella aquatilis, both JZ-DZ1 and JZ-ZJ1 being autofluorescent, Pseudomonas fluorescens, by 16S rDNA gene sequencing technology, Biolog Identification System and biological characterization. The present study suggests that the three screened PDRB strains would have great potential application as biological fertilizers in the future.