Make sure trees, shrubs are hardy before planting

Trees for sale

May 1, 2019

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is encouraging homeowners to check recommended plant hardiness zones and seek expert advice in some cases 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, you may want to talk with a trusted nursery dealer, horticulturist or local extension agent,” Goehring 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 purchasing agents 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 nursery 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, flowering almond, flowering cherries, and certain varieties of fruit trees. 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 https://www.nd.gov/ndda/program/nursery-program. A plant hardiness zone map is available at http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/.