The Q&A Archives: Planting Near Walnut Trees

Question: I am interested in determining what plants can be planted in proximity to a Black Walnut tree. What flowers and shrubs will grow successfully and how far from the tree can other plants be safely grown?

Answer: Black walnut (Juglans nigra) has a reputation for being allelopathic--that is, for inhibiting the growth of other plants. Small amounts of juglone are released by the tree roots, but a far greater amount of this growth inhibiting chemical is found under the canopy of the tree.

Some plants that are tolerant to juglone include: arborvitae, cedar, catalpa, clematis, daphne, elm, euonymous, forsythia, hawthorn, hemlock, sycamore, astilbe, begonia, bellflower, orange hawkweed, hosta, pansy, phlox, marigold, primrose, snowdrop, sweet woodruff, trillium and zinnia. Since your walnut tree is there to stay, try to plant one of the less-susceptible plants in the vicinity of the trees roots or canopy.

Avoid plants that are sensitive to juglone, including apple, blackberry, pear and blueberry, asparagus, cabbage, eggplant, pepper, potato and tomato. Landscape plants sensitive to juglone include azalea, birch, honeysuckle, hydrangea, larch, lilac, magnolia, maple, pine, potentilla, rhododendron, spruce and viburnums.

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