Make sure trees, shrubs are hardy before planting

BISMARCK – Many varieties of trees and shrubs adapt well to North Dakota's climate and soils, but homeowners are encouraged to talk with a trusted nursery dealer, horticulturist or local extension agent before buying and planting nursery stock for their property.

“This is the time of year many homeowners are planting trees and shrubs in their yards,” says Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “By planting hardy stock, they help ensure that they won't be digging up the same trees and shrubs next year.”

State law requires that all trees and shrubs, designated by the agriculture commissioner as non-hardy must be labeled “non-hardy in North Dakota.”  The penalty for violating the law is up to $500 per incident. Repeated violations can result in denial of a dealer license.

“Some plants are not adapted to surviving our North Dakota winters when the temperature can drop to 25 degrees below zero and colder,” Goehring said. “Some plants may not tolerate our soil types or dry conditions.”

Goehring said the North Dakota Department of Agriculture receives numerous complaints every year from both consumers and dealers about non-hardy stock being sold in the state.

Most of the complaints involve larger stores that are headquartered in other states,” he said. “It seems that the purchasers for these stores are sometimes unaware of North Dakota's growing conditions or of our state's labeling law for trees and shrubs.”

The most common, non-hardy trees and shrubs offered for sale in North Dakota include emerald arborvitae, dwarf Alberta spruce, eastern redbud, flowering dogwood, privet, holly, and double-file viburnums and certain varieties of pears, apples, cherries and peaches. Emerald arborvitae and dwarf Alberta spruce are sometimes labeled as hardy from 30 to 40 degrees below zero, but they tend to winter burn badly resulting in death or severe dieback.

A more detailed listing of non-hardy trees and shrubs is available on the North Dakota Department of Agriculture website at