The Q&A Archives: What Grows Under A Black Walnut Tree

Question: I have a black walnut tree in the back yard. I know that the roots are poisonous to many plants, and I'm limited in what will flourish or die in that soil. I have a hard time growing a lot of things. I once saw a list (but since lost it) of annuals and perennials that do ok or well near a black walnut tree. Do you have such a list? Many Thanks

Answer: Black walnut (Juglans nigra) has a reputation for being allelopathic--that is, for inhibiting the growth of other plants. Small amounts of a substance called 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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