The Q&A Archives: Black Walnut Leaves In Garden Soil

Question: My mother gave me some bags of leaves to till up in my garden last year. I just found out that they were from a black walnut tree! HELP! What can I do to stop them from killing everything? I do not have a lot of money to buy tons of topsoil or compost. I do compost and will be putting some in my garden, but very little compared to the 5 bags of leaves! Is there any hope for me?

Answer: There's a growth inhibitor within the bark, roots, leaves, stems and fruits of all walnut trees. Some plants are more tolerant of this than others, and will grow near walnut trees. Other plants are extremely sensitive and will not

Five bags seems like a lot, but depending on the size of your garden, they may not impact it as much as you think. Add more compost that you have and water well to encourage the breakdown of organic matter. You might also want to add some steer manure, which is usually quite cheap in the large bags, around a dollar or so. (It can be salty though, so don't add too much.) Since you won't be adding more walnut leaves, I think they will decompose and "pass through" your garden without doing alot of damage. Below are some plants to consider or avoid. Good luck!

The plants most tolerant of the growth inhibiting juglone found in walnuts include: arborvitae, ctalpa, clematis, daphne, euonymous,
junipers, rose of Sharon, biburnum, astilbe, bee balm, begonia, bellflower, Shasta daisy, daylily, chrysanthemum, coral bells, wild ginger, orange hawkweed, hollyhock, hosta, morning glory, pansy, phlox, marigold, primrose, stonecrop, tulip, violet, campanula, iris, lamb's ear, spiderwort, sweet woodruff, and zinnia.

Most vegetables of the nightshade family are extremely sensitive to juglone, as are narcissus, peony, petunia, columbine and lilac and should not be planted near walnut trees.

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