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MDA advises consumers to be aware when buying landscaping plants

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MDA advises consumers to be aware when buying landscaping plants

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is reminding consumers to check viability and cold hardiness before purchasing trees, shrubs and other plants for landscaping. Last summer, Minnesota state statute made it even easier for consumers to determine if a tree, shrub or other plant will successfully grow in Minnesota.

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MDA defined "nonhardy" as a plant that cannot be expected to survive or reliably produce flowers and fruit in average minimum winter temperatures at the growing site. By law, all nursery stock not cold hardy for Minnesota must be labeled "nonhardy."

Already this spring, MDA nursery inspectors have found dead and damaged packaged plants, and some stores selling plants in poor condition. They have also found stores carrying plants that are mislabeled for Minnesota's cold hardiness zones. Minnesota is generally zone 3 in the northern half of the state and zone 4 in the south.

Plants not meant for Minnesota's climate are unlikely to thrive here, unless extra protection is provided. Fruit trees that are not hardy may survive but will not produce fruit as flower buds are killed by cold temperature.

"Consumers are protected from mislabeled or unhealthy plants by Minnesota laws we enforce," said Geir Friisoe, MDA's Plant Protection Division Director. "Proper care of plants displayed for sale is critical to survival. No green thumb can save a plant that has been significantly damaged in its early life stages."

To ensure consumers are purchasing viable and hardy nursery plants, the MDA offers the following advice:

· Plan ahead and make sure the plants you select are hardy for the area where they will be planted.

· Plants in plastic bags should be kept dormant. Once growth begins these plants should be planted or potted immediately. Check for soft or mushy roots which could indicate rot.

· Dormant plants can be planted as soon as the ground has thawed. However, newly planted stock can be damaged by freezing and frost. It may be better to wait until potted plants are available instead of buying packaged plants when it may be too early to plant.

Consumers can find a Minnesota plant hardiness list and a map of Minnesota hardiness zones at http://www.mda.state.mn.us/en/licensing/licensetypes/nurseryprogram.aspx.

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