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Don Kinzler, Published March 28 2014

Fielding questions

Q. We’re interested in getting milkweed seeds so we can start some in our backyard. We have many zinnias and do see monarch butterflies in summer, but would like to attract more. Do you have a good source? – Russ Hanson, Fargo

A. It’s encouraging to see the increased interest in planting milkweeds, which are the sole food source of monarch butterfly larvae. The botanical genus of milkweed is Asclepias. It includes both the native species and several types sold as the hardy perennial called butterflyweed, which is available at many garden centers as plants.

Seeds of several varieties of Asclepias can be ordered from sources such as Prairie Restorations, Inc. in Princeton, Minn., which has a good online catalog at www.prairieresto.com.

Milkweed seeds aren’t difficult to start, but germination is better if seeds are chilled in the refrigerator in a bag of moist peat moss for three weeks before planting to overcome dormancy.

Q. A short time ago you wrote about “Saskatoon Blueberry” from Gurney Seed and Nursery. I have tried and failed to grow blueberries here, but would like to try this one if it would grow in my Fargo backyard. I am not sure what zone we are located in. Your article mentioned Zone 3. If there is a local source I would rather use one. – Lewis Lubka, Fargo

A. The great news is that this blueberry is well-adapted to our climate and soil because it is not really a blueberry, although the fruit tastes just as good. The name Saskatoon Blueberry is an example of the dangers of willy-nilly nicknames because it is more commonly known in our area as Juneberry, Amelancier alnifolia.

Juneberry has been planted for years and is fully hardy and adapted for your Fargo yard. The northern regions of North Dakota and Minnesota are Zone 3, and the remainder Zone 4. Most locally owned garden centers offer Juneberry shrubs.

For home gardeners looking for another fruiting shrub that is better adapted than blueberries, try honeyberry, or Lonicera caerulea. Plants are available at local garden centers, which offer several varieties.

“Indigo Gem” has tested well regionally and has great flavor. Honeyberry is fully hardy and breeders have been developing great varieties. We’ll be hearing a lot more about this one, as it becomes more widely planted and familiar.


If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@hotmail.com. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city, and state for appropriate advice.