The Q&A Archives: Growing Under A Black Walnut Tree

Question: What types of plants will survive under a black walnut tree?

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, bamboo (and other ornamental grasses) 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 the walnut trees are 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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