Minnesota Hardy

There is a wonderful website that the U of M has put together that I wonder if many gardeners are aware of. It is called Minnesota Hardy. The website address is https://mnhardy.umn.edu/. “Minnesota Hardy describes over 150 horticultural plants released by Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) and available at local nurseries and garden centers. The current version was published in 2014 and includes useful growing information, locations to view University varieties, and a peek at future introductions,” according to the website. There is a wealth of information regarding so many different kinds of plants, all of which have been researched hardy for Minnesota. In our unpredictable climate, it is more important than ever to be able to make wise choices in what plants we are investing in for our gardens.

A quick look at this website and the publication that you can download from it had a vast amount of information regarding so many cultivars. The first, of course, is apples. The first apple that was released from the U of M in 1936 is Beacon. The latest releases are SweeTango, Frostbite and SnowSweet. The U of M became interested in researching currents in the 1990s and released two varieties: Ben Como and Ben Chaska. The part of the name, “Ben” is from Scotland where the two currents came from originally and it means “mountain.” The variety Red Lake, was introduced in 1933 and has been a popular current ever since. Apricots are also a plant that the U of M has been working with, specifically Moongold and Sungold. Pears, cherries and plums have all been introduced over the years from the research team at the U of M. These have been found widely throughout Minnesota over the years. Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries have all seen new varieties over the years from the U of M as well. The most recent addition is Pink Popcorn blueberry in 2014. This is a pink colored blueberry instead of the traditional blue colored berry. There has also been a focus on wine grapes and table grapes throughout the year. This has been followed by adding hops to the long list of cultivars from the U of M. Hops has been part of the research program since 2010 followed up by more research in barley for the use of beer making. Fun fact: “Although a perennial plant, hop vines die back to the ground every year and start fresh with new vines in early spring after the last frost. The vines reach 25 feet in length and typically require 20-foot tall trellises for support. At harvest time, the cones are around 80 percent water and either need to be dried or used immediately to avoid composting.”

While the U of M has been known for the edible landscape research, they are not always recognized for the ornamental landscape outside of the U of M Mum program or the azalea program. They have been involved with developing roses over the years, especially shrub roses. They have also been working on a hardy wisteria. Summer Cascade is hardy in Minnesota to zone 3 and flowers on new growth. It was originally found in a garden in the metro area and was originally called Betty Matthews over the garden owner. Gaura, “Snowstorm” is a variety that the U of M is working on changing from annual to perennial. At this point in time, all Gaura in Minnesota is still considered an annual but from place to place, you may be able to grow it as a perennial. We all know that the U of M has been busy working on new varieties of shrubs and trees. In the maple group, the (fairly) new kids on the block are Firefall, Northwood and Autumn spire. The last mentioned tree has been planted widely and is quickly becoming like ash trees, maybe too many of one type planted. There is a Dutch elm resistant variety of elm out from the U of M called St. Croix. Or if you want to keep your yard and garden planted in a variety of trees which is highly recommended, try Splendor Buckeye.

For more information on gardening, you can reach me at s.dejaeghere@me.com. To reach the Lyon County Master Gardeners, you can call the Lyon County Extension service at 532-8219.