Make sure trees, shrubs are hardy before planting

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is encouraging homeowners to seek expert advice before buying and planting nursery stock for their property.

“Many varieties of trees and shrubs adapt well to North Dakota's climate and soils, but before you plant, talk with a trusted nursery dealer, horticulturist or local extension agent,” he said.  “They will help you select nursery stock that you will enjoy for years to come.”

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.”

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 winter conditions.”

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 http://www.nd.gov/ndda/program/nursery-program