The Q&A Archives: Will sunflowers inhibit my vegetables?

Question: I want to grow sunflowers in my vegetable garden this year, but I've heard they produce a growth inhibitor that affects nearby vegetables. Is this true? Rheba Eichhorn Sylmar, CA

Answer: Grow all the sunflowers you want in your vegetable garden, says Tim Hartz, vegetable specialist at the University of California, Davis. Sunflowers don't have an allelopathic effect on vegetables. They will grow fine in companion with all vegetables,as long as they don't shade or crowd the other plants. There is one potential problem with beans, peas and other legumes if you grow sunflowers on the same soil for many years. Certain fungal diseases such as southern blight can actually increase under sunflower cultivation, says Hartz. This disease is particularly harmful to legumes. The problem can be avoided by rotating your sunflowers to different spots and not planting legumes where sunflowers have grown, he says.

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