The Black Walnut Society

If you have a Juglans nigra growing anywhere on your property, or if your neighbor’s J. nigra overhangs your property, I am pleased to welcome you to The Black Walnut Society! 

As you know, the lovely Black Walnut tree releases a chemical called juglone, which is toxic to many plants.  If you’re like me, you’ve spent quite a bit of time seeking out lists on the internet that say which plants will or will not tolerate juglone.  Unfortunately, these lists are often contradictory, and they only include a fraction of the available plants out there on the market.  I have been gardening under several Black Walnut trees for quite awhile now, and I would like to share my own personal list of the plants that I have grown successfully under these beautiful trees

Naturally this list is in no way comprehensive, but if you are an adventurous gardener and would like to try growing more than just a few plants near your Black Walnuts, perhaps it will give you some ideas.  I will keep adding to these lists as I experiment with new plants!  And I invite you to please tell me which plants YOU have been successful with under your Black Walnuts.  Be sure to include your growing zone or location!

Plants Growing Right at the Base of Mary’s Black Walnut Trees:

Epimedium spp.
EuonymusManhattan
Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae (Mrs. Robb’s Spurge),
Hosta spp.

Plants that have died at the base of the tree — Heuchera ‘Caramel’ (maybe it got too dry)

 Plants Growing Beneath a Black Walnut Dripline:

Allium spp.
Aruncus dioicus (Goatsbeard)
Asimina triloba (Pawpaw)
Astilbe spp.
Callicarpa americana (American Beautyberry)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania Spurge)
Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’
Cotoneaster salicifolius ‘Repens’ (Willowleaf Cotoneaster)
Deutzia gracilis ‘Chardonnay Pearls’
Digitalis mertonensis (Strawberry Foxglove)
Eleutherococcus sieboldianus ‘Variegatus’ (Variegated Aralia)
Fargesia rufa ‘Green Panda’ (Green Panda Clumping Bamboo)
Forsythia spp.
Fothergilla major ‘Blue Shadow’
Heuchera americana ‘Dale’s Strain’
Gladiolus spp.
Ilex opaca ‘Greenleaf’ (American Holly)
Ilex verticillata (Winterberry Holly)
Iris germanica
Hemerocallis fulga (Daylily)
Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon)
Lindera benzoin (Spicebush)
Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay Magnolia)
Malus spp. (Ornamental Crabapple)
Miscanthus sinsensis ‘Dixieland’
Narcissus spp.
Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’
Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)
Rohdea japonica (Sacred Lily)
Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis (Sweetbox)
Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae)
Tradescantia virginiana (Spiderwort)
Tsuga canadensis (Canadian Hemlock)
Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Pink Dawn’

Plants that have died under the dripline: Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’, Aucuba serratifolia, Pieris ‘Mountain Fire’

Comments

  1. The large black walnut in the far corner of my yard has shown no effect, good or bad, on a sweep of variegated pachysandra, Pathenocissus quinqefolia on twenty feet of chain link, dwarf spruce, arborvitae, Joe-Pye weed, and Penissetum ‘Hameln.’ Daylilies don’t mind either.

  2. I have also had success with daffodils directly under my black walnut in my yard.

  3. I’ve found that Itea (‘Little Henry’ Sweetspire) seem to do fine. It’s not been 10 years but I’m witnessing it working as we speak (on the dripline…. farther is better).

  4. Trina Sleper says:

    Thank you for your trial of plants around and under black walnuts! My garden of veggies and flowers is surrounded by these trees! I have ringed the bases with stella deoras (sp.?) and longafollia hostas, both doing fine. In the garden my day lilies,iris,cone flowers,beans,broccoli,carrots,radish,cabbage,kolrobi,sqush,gords,watermellon,zinia, and onions all do well. There are 2 old walnut stumps in the garden area besides the ones surruonding it. I now have 6 raised beds in the garden of cukes,lettuce,asparagas,herbs,peppers,eggplant, and cone flowers all doing well. Have rhubarb over one of the stumps.
    When I filled the beds, I used composted leaves and of course included walnut leaves. So far the eggplant is ok. The tomatoes, of course, don’t do well. They have a garden to themselves at the end of my wild weed flower garden.
    Would love to harvest the very mature walnut trees, but husband says no and want him more than garden- so far!
    Question-how long does the juglone stay in the soil?

    • Trina, thanks so much for adding your plant list to my Black Walnut page! I am honestly surprised you are having success with so many vegetables in the vicinity of these trees. That is great though! Your question about how long julone stays in the soil is a good one, and I have to say I have no idea. I would imagine that once a tree is cut down and is no longer conducting photosynthesis it would not be able to produce any more juglone and that the dying roots just sort of shrivel and die out. This is the opinion of a liberal arts major, mind you, so take with many grains of salt.

      • I have 12 BW in my yard plus the big ones in each of my neighbors yards. II have read in several places that the ground is toxic to susceptible plants for about 5 years after they are cut down. From a biology point of view, it will take a couple of years for the roots to actually die. There is a lot of stored up food in the roots of a mature tree and many trees will send up sprouts for a couple of years after being cut. The juglone that is produced from the roots of the cut tree will also take some time after the roots die to leave the soil. I hope this helps answer your question.

    • I have had good success growing vegetables under the drip line of several trees: cherry tomatoes do well as do ground cherries. Okra, beans, lettuce. I’ve not had success with zucchini, squash or veggies that grow on creeping vines such as these.

  5. louise j. goldstein says:

    Mary — I have ten acres of Black Walnut trees, which have grown up over the twenty years we have lived here. My husband and I have left this wild, for the birds and “critters”: lots of golden rod, pines, grasses of all sorts, and Russian Olives (invasive) seem to thrive. We also have one acre of English gardens (cottage flowers), and an extensive vegetable garden, down hill from all those BW’s. We have two “yard” BW’s which my husband will not let me touch. I have my strawberry and asparagus beds (raised) directly under one, and both are doing fine. Also peas and leeks seem to do well. Apple trees (duh!) have died, and apricots as well. I’m hoping to landscape native and edible shrubs in a large patch smack dab between (and under) these two, and really appreciate all the info given here. Oh, in researching the whole question of toxicity, I’ve come across many articles that say the juglone poison persists for years after the trees are cut down…

  6. Old Mill Perennials says:

    Thanks for a great and informative site. Alas some ‘real’ information from fellow gardeners. So much on the internet to discern through concerning ‘Juglone tolerance’.
    I planted 21 ilex close to the drip of 5 HUGE walnuts today. 3 boys and 18 girls. Most people referance the shade… not if they are grown on the north side. I have lots of south facing sun on these trees which allows me to plant ‘in front of them’. I realize that my ilex can be grown in shade, but I also have what is called a ‘Mill Race’. It occasionally floods and becomes what it was intended for. I call it my double jeapordy area. WATER AND WALNUTS! I’ve also planted Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ here and Molinia ‘Skyracer’. En masse. Plan on planting lots of Solidago ‘Fireworks’ too.
    I have some design experience and wanted something different!!!
    Thank you for the heads up on the Fargesia… did not know it was tolerant either! This entertains my thought in planting some ‘Sasa Vetchii’ as a groundcover. This would be OUTSTANDING beneath my Ilex:)

    • Wow, you’ve got some serious walnuts! What kind of ilex did you plant? I’ve got 4 opacas growing under my walnuts and they’re pretty happy, shade and all. I love your idea of planting the Cornus and Molinia en masse….bet that’s gooooorgeous.

      • Old Mill Perennials says:

        I planted ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ and their companion male ‘Jim Dandy’. As you know they are deciduous and commonly referred to as Winterberry holly. ‘Red Sprite’ grows to just 3-5′. “Stooling” or the pruning of the cornus will keep it in bounds and produce spectacular color on new stems.
        Yes, I am excited to see what it looks like with the first snow. Oooooh, did I say SNOW? Eeeeek, something to look forward too:)

  7. We bought this house 2 years ago. We have almost an acre and love to garden. What a shock to find we have these awful trees to deal with having never heard of this before. Why would people want to create such an environmental impact when there are so many wonderful trees to chose from? This year we had to have a 30 to 40 ft. blue spruce cut down, every year it had less green branches. Last year the university extension service thought the tree needed water. Now my guess is how close it was to the walnut tree, I just pray that our blue spruce on our property line does not suffer the same fate. I am trying to be positive but I could just cry. The only thing good is the wisteria growing up into the walnut tree right in front of the house. Funny thing is that is the only walnut on our land the back fence has five self seeded trees growing on the
    other side and the side property line all down our 300 ft. drive has mature walnuts. It seems like we just have to rely on the help of sites like yours to find the encouragement we need to build a beautiful garden without a lot of plants we have loved. Coming from California to Michigan was already enough of a challenge, now this!

    • Hi Janice- I wanted to reply to your comment because, in Kansas, I have so many clients who consistently lose Blue Spruce trees. Blue spruce (many but not all varieties) are picky about water (want just enough not too much- 1″ every 7-10 days) and soil. I’d use a gater bag (look it up!) if you aren’t already, to deliver the correct amount of water to the root zone only. As well, if your soil is compactable clay soil, be advised that spruces just don’t like it! While there are lots of nutrients therein, they are hard to access. Fertilize in the spring (an evergreen or acid fertilizer like Espoma Holly Tone) and add compost to the soil around the tree- this breaks up the clay soil (assuming this is what you have. If not, ignore me!). Also keep in mind that encroaching tree canopy (from whatever source) will cause a lot less light, therefore less growth, etc. in your spruce. If your needles start to turn pink= usually too much water. If your tree is weakened and suddenly starts to lose needles, look at aphids and spider mites. They attack spruce heavily and love an already compromised victim…. Hope your tree makes it!

  8. Old Mill Perennials says:

    Janice….
    Did the extension check for bag worms on the tree? They can be a huge problem on blue spruce. They will exfoliate the needles. Some years they are worse than others.
    Also… as for the environmental factor…. squirels will surely take those nuts and bury them everywhere! And once a seedling walnut emerges, it is very hard to get rid of. It simply cannot be cut off, they resprout. The walnut has a very long taproot.

  9. Mary:
    You already listed Lindera which seems to LOVE black walnut…Redbud is also perfectly happy with these wonderful native trees…
    Donna

  10. Tim Kerin says:

    I have a 5 foot and a 3 foot dbh black walnut growing in the yard. I live in the Hudson Valley of NY. The larger BW has about a 120 foot crown, so you can see there is room for a great diversity of plants. Daffodil, scylla, snowdrop, winter aconite, bleeding heart, Canada mayflower, angelica, wild strawberry, garlic mustard, sugar maple, american elm, eastern juniper, redbud and white pine grow fine. Native yellow jewelweed (touch-me-not) is quite robust. The grass sod is usually thin and susceptible to being torn by mowing or foot traffic, although the grass is nice and green. Earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris) are abundant, which could contribute to this effect. I have seen the earthworms reduce a huge pile of BW leaves to crumbly soil in a year’s time. Moles come into the yard periodically but tend to tunnel in the areas not under the BW trees. There is one plant I can say does not tolerate the black walnuts: rhododendron languishes and dies.
    I’m a biologist. I would like to find an easy way to test for juglone in soil. Judging by its chemical structure, it looks suspiciously durable. But I have no idea. Perhaps a simple test could be to try raising fast-growing seedlings of known susceptibilty in soil where juglone is suspected. A good test for compostability of juglone might be to get a bunch of BW leaves in a mesh bag and leave in the compost pile for a year–then use a seedling test for residual toxicity. Perhaps try to allow earthworms into the mesh bags, since they might harbor bacteria that successfuly degrade juglone.

    • Thanks so much for this post, Tim. I do love to hear what other people grow under BWs, and if you learn something useful with the juglone experiment, please do let me know! You are right about Rhodies languishing in the presence of juglone….mountain laurel, I hear, is also a goner with BWS.

      • Tim Kerin says:

        Mary,
        My pleasure! I will definitely let you know what I find out, with regards to composting juglone. You know, it’s interesting that I have two white pines under the walnuts and these are listed everyhere I’ve seen as sensitive. It may be that certain factors can ameliorate juglone toxicity. I have neutral pH soil (calcareous) and not particularly well-drained. I can’t think of exactly how this would affect the toxicity, however–except that most biological processes are sensitive to pH. Also, the white pines are close to a large grove of other white pines, from which they could derive some support through root grafting (common in white pine) and/or a shared mycorrhizal fungal network.

        There are also just a few autumn blooming crocuses under the BWs, which I see others have had trouble growing. Go figure! Best of luck with the growing season.

        Tim

  11. S. Olson says:

    I have a butternut (white walnut?) but some kind of worm destroys all the nuts. Is there some kind of trap I can buy? Or some other solution other than spraying a chemical? The tree is huge, so big it straddles two yards, so I can’t pick the nuts, but need to wait for them to fall.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Regrettably, I have no advice for you on this one. Sorry. I might try calling your local extension agency, or maybe even a reputable arborist? Good luck!

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  14. bubbleoffplumb says:

    zone 6/7 southern new york (mainland)
    some volunteers doing very well amongst the walnuts…
    viola sororia (common violet)
    Polygonum virginianum (Virginia knot weed)
    Geum canadense (white avens)

    Parthenocissus quinquefolia (virginia creeper)
    Menispermum canadense (common moon seed)
    have planted some bare root sambucus (elderberry). seems to be holding on.

    i like to encourage native volunteers – trying to keep the dreaded garlic mustard at bay. For this reason i tend to like more “assertive” plants.

    and…. i AM juglone tolerant!

  15. Thank you so much for this! I have a ginormous (scientific term for “about 30-40 foot tall”) black walnut in the corner of my very small yard, and just last year it finally managed to kill off a lovely dogwood tree in its dripline. I am in zone 6, and I’ve had good luck with Asiatic lilies, blackberries, and raspberries, as well as the daffodils and Rose of Sharon mentioned above (though my Rose of Sharon has remained very small, about 4 feet tall at best).

    • Oh no, I am bummed to hear about the dogwood, since I recently planted two diff. Cornus species near my BWs. Thanks for your other suggestions!

      • MorrisCty, NJ says:

        We have a beautiful thriving dogwood (cornus florida) under a black walnut. From everything I’ve read, any species of dogwood should be compatible with black walnut. However, dogwood trees only live to be about 20 or 30 years old and are susceptible to various fungal diseases. So, I would suspect some other culprit for killing the dogwood.

        • Thanks for the comment. I have also read that walnut and dogwood are compatible. One other culprit with a struggling dogwood might be improper soil. I believe that most dogwoods enjoy slightly acidic soil. I’ve planted many acid loving plants (camellias, pieris, etc.) in my backyard that have slowly died, and I’ve come to the conclusion my soil is to blame rather than my walnut trees, though it could be a combination of both.

  16. I have not read all comments regarding the type of dogwood being discussed. My lists say no to forbid anonymous, silky dogwood

  17. Sorry to say I think an incomplete email went out when I dropped my phone. As I missed what the actual dogwood is being discussed I will only ask has anyone planted Dogwood -Venus. I just returned from the nursery and am anxious to add this lovely tree to my grounds but it would be an expensive mistake if it did not live. Thanks for your comments. Janice

    • Oh, those Venus dogwoods are gorgeous. I believe they are a hybrid between three different species, so I am unsure about their juglone tolerance. I had thought that all Cornus were juglone tolerant. I had not read that about silky dogwood.

  18. Thanks for the support group.
    My garden is outside the drip line of a giant black walnut, but still very much impacted by the root system and squirrels burying the nuts in my beds. I live in zone 6b and get a range of sun exposure.

    Plants I have had luck with:
    Sage
    lavender
    oregano
    spider wort
    holly hock
    fennel
    seedum (ground cover and upright)
    cone flower
    mums
    hostas
    astilbe
    bleeding heart

    Plants I had to dig out:
    hydrangea (climbing and oak leaf)
    azaleas
    coral bells (both orange leaf and dark purple)

    I put in some new “experiments” this spring that I am interested to see if anyone else has had good luck with:
    Corydalis
    hellebores
    clematis
    aster
    balloon astra
    shasta daisy
    chives
    basil

    Thanks,
    Rachel

    • Thanks so much for these lists, Rachel! I, too, have had to dig out some of the plants you mention. The most heart-breaking was the oak leaf hydrangea, possibly my favorite shrub. I tried it twice.

      I have also struggled with heucheras, although I have some H. villosa that are thriving — I have both the cultivar ‘Autumn Bride’ which is glorious, and I’ve also just planted several straight H. villosa species.

      I recently planted hellebores right at the base of one of my BW’s and they are thriving!

      Also I have been meaning to mention pn my blog that last year I planted a bottlebrush buckeye under the BW drip line and it has tripled in size in one year. I love it!

    • Hi Rachel,

      Just wondering if anyone has tried planting a Carolina Jessamine ‘Margarita’ vine near a black walnut… have scoured the Internet and haven’t found a hint in either direction.

      Thanks!

      Bridget

      • Hi Bridget,

        Sorry, I haven’t seen anything about Carolina jessamine either. My motto when it comes to planting under black walnuts is “when in doubt, try it out” — unless it’s a really expensive plant!

  19. wow!!! what a wealth of information!!! we live in the north georgia mountains, and we have at least 8 hahahaha *ginormous* black walnuts that form a beautiful canopy of shade in the backyard, and a small one in the front. honeysuckle, wild roses, violets, grapes, and blackberries all seem to be doing fine in the shade under and around the trees…..and of course the grass (i have no idea what kind….just the wild stuff that mother nature planted) grows like crazy!!! we have 3 apple trees on the opposite side of yard not near the BW and a small apple (think i threw a core out there years ago!! :D ) growing under a canopy of old….50+? oaks……
    we recently tilled up a section of land south and uphill of the closest BW, planted watermelon, cantaloupe, beets, squash, onions, lettuce, spinach, peas, beans, and corn…..everything is growing like crazy!!! the neighbor who helped us till up the land told us we had *good dirt*
    i had already *started* a garden in pots…..tomatoes and peppers mostly…..then i read that BW was not conducive to their health, so i guess i did that right without even knowing it!!! thanks for all the info!!!!

  20. Hi there!

    From what I’ve read, there’s a difference between what can grow directly under a black walnut and what can grow near but away from the drip line. For me, there are other complications so it’s uncertain whether the problem is juglone or water competition when things die near the dripline. I have a flowering dogwood and a Norway maple growing near the black walnut, all near the top of a slope. The maple in particular sucks a lot of water, so plants on top of the slope have a harder time. I lost a winterberry two years ago after planting just along the black walnut dripline, but it was also planted near the top of the slope. It died almost immediately but the two winterberries planted lower on the slope are thriving two years later. I think it may have been the heat and lack of water that killed it. Honestly, not many plants do extremely well near the base or under the dripline of any tree on our property, except for the undesirable invasives such as Japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose, oriental bittersweet, and Japanese Stilt Grass. Virginia creeper, poison ivy, Bearded Iris and peonies also seem to survive anywhere.

    Aster should do fine near a black walnut. Mine is thriving about 15 feet from the black walnut trunk. Also, I have native gooseberry growing happily near the aster. As you said, bleeding heart does fine, I have mayapple, Ostrich Fern, clethra, daphne and some European Consort Currant. Two of the four currants died and one of the three Ostrich ferns, but they were planted at the very top of the slope. The two currants that died were very close to the dogwood. Foamflower does fine near the black walnut, but not as well near the Norway maple. Native and European geranium, all kinds of phlox, Jacob’s Ladder, gray, red and yellow twig dogwood, smartweed, jack-in-the-pulpit, Maple Leaf Viburnum, Running Serviceberry, native honeysuckle, pokeweed, trumpet vine, any kind of native cherry tree, sassafras, hornbeam, hop hornbeam, tulip tree, red maple, mulberry, black or red elderberry, daffodils, wild violets/pansies, poison ivy and other kinds of rhus species including fragrant sumac and low gro fragrant sumac, native black raspberry, Dutchman’s pipe vine, strawberries, rue, Thai basil, Maypop, aspen, ash, partridgeberry, Montauk daisy, fig trees, redbud, and black cohosh, wild grape vine, are all growing happily near my black walnut tree. All kinds of wild sedge and blue-eyed grass, Virginia rose, red oak, pin oak, spicebush, black chokeberry, witch hazel and Japanese maple are all very happy near the black walnut. Japanese pachysandra is too happy near the black walnut, so I’m going to have to start ripping it out. All the invasives I mentioned before, Japanese Stilt Grass, multiflora rose, Japanese honeysuckle, oriental bittersweet and Garlic Mustard, are also too annoyingly happy.

    I planted ligularia and cardinal flower under the black walnut today. According to online lists they are supposed to do fine so we’ll see.

    From what I’ve read, almost anything in the honeysuckle family (and you’d be surprised how many plants are in this family), the buttercup family, the native euonymus family, and the sumac family can survive near black walnuts. Nothing in the rhododendron family can, and this includes rhodies, azaleas, blueberries, lingonberries, cranberries, wintergreen, heaths and heathers, bog rosemary, Japanese andromeda and bearberry.

    I’ve also read that plants in the mulberry family, which includes fig, can create a buffer around the black walnut root system reducing the effects of juglone. Their roots fix nitrogen in the soil. So, I planted a small non-native mulberry to see what would happen. A native red mulberry would grow too large for the space. It’s happy, but I’m hoping in the long run it will help the Southern highbush blueberry shrubs planted 15 feet away continue to thrive.

    • Bridget,

      Thanks so much for this thoughtful and comprehensive account of your experiences with BW! I am especially encouraged to see that daphne has been successful for you, since that is something I have always wanted to plant.

      Mary

      • MorrisCty, NJ says:

        Daphne shrubs smell heavenly!! They also stand up to direct morning sun pretty well. I have two varieties of clethra planted in the same general area and it’s taken them much longer to establish.

  21. Just had to dig out a Lady’s Mantle after two years of it not doing much. It wasn’t growing and was starting to get crispy. I’m thinking it was the black walnut, but maybe the spot was too sunny.

    My garden is in Rhode Island and I am out side the drip line of a very gigantic black walnut.

    Best,
    Rachel

  22. Susan Putnam says:

    So interesting to read everyone else’s experiences living with BW trees. Under my BW, winterberry holly is not making it at all – only a few leaves, no berries, on the few that are still limping along after 5 years. The arborvitae and hosta are beautiful. Never thought I’d love arborvitae until I saw how happy, green and ethereal it is under my BW. Viburnum under dripline of neighbor’s BW are flourishing. Maple tree and mulberry tree are happy and healthy. When we moved here yellow archangel lamiastrum and ligularia flourished, but in re-landscaping back yard both are now gone. Also under the BW, lilac survives, but is in too much shade to bloom. Daylilies bloom in the same spot. What has died over the years: apple tree, white pine, blue spruce, oak leaf hydrangea.

    Has anyone had success with either pinxterbloom or exbury azaleas? (Both are deciduous.) All 3 of my juglone-tolerant lists included these, but comments here indicate no rhodo/azaleas will tolerate juglone. Husband wants azaleas, but now I don’t know, after reading comments here. Also, how about fringe tree? It is also on my list of juglone-tolerant plants (and on my wish-list), but an arboretum site notes that it is highly intolerant of juglone!

    Gardening here in zone 7, Baltimore area. Thanks for all the tips!

    Susan

    • MorrisCtyNJ says:

      I’ve read that Exbury azaleas are supposed to be juglone-tolerant also. Maybe you can get one on sale after Easter next spring and try it out?

      I have three silky dogwood planted about 50 feet from my black walnut in a wooded lot surrounded by other nut trees – various hickories – and they are happy as can be. One dogwood species that did not do well on my property was Tartarian Dogwood (Cornus alba) – the Eurasian red and yellow twig. They were about 25 feet from the walnut tree but I think it was the early July heatwave that killed them last year. The slope on one side of the walnut has a southern exposure and I think the morning sun was too much for the dogwoods’ variegated leaves and I’d planted them on a slope in soil that probably drained too well for their taste. This was before I knew enough to make sure what garden centers claim is native is actually native!

  23. Thanks for a site with a wealth of information! I live in Minnesota zone 4B with a large, old Black Walnut in the back garden. I have had success with these plants, which have lived under the tree for ten years or more: Virignia Bluebells, Yellow Lady Slipper, Dicentra (pink and also the white variety), Japanese Painted Fern, Jack in the Pulpit, Hosta and Trillium. These are all at the base of the tree, within 5 feet of the trunk. I also have a lilac growing directly under the walnut, and it bloomed for the first time this year (planted it about 12 years ago). Also surviving, but not thriving (I think due to the dryness of the site) are Astilbe and Cimicifuga. I am also successfully growing black raspberries under the tree (near the dripline).
    I appreciate all the information on this site! I was wondering if spicebush would grow, and it appears that it will be very happy under the tree.
    Lisa

    • MorrisCty, NJ says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Spicebush should be just fine. As you probably already know, it’s related to the sassafras tree and sassafras grow like weeds all over my property — including near the black walnuts. I have two spicebush growing on level ground below the slope where my mature Black Walnut is and they are absolutely fine. I bought them as tiny little plants from ForestFarm three years ago and one thing about them is they don’t grow nearly as fast as sassafras trees. Sigh. Very slow, in fact. Less than six cubic inches a year. I think it may take years before I even know what sex they are. I’m hoping growth rate will speed up with time!

  24. 万年筆 使い方

    • Hi

      We are in Toronto (Ontario, Canada) and have 9 large White Pines in our back garden along with one Black Walnut. The White Pines are all over 100 years old while the Black Walnut is young, say 10 to 12 cm in trunk diameter (4 to 5 inches). At this point all look quite healthy. The Black Walnut is about 10 metres (30 feet) away from the closest White Pine.

      We are trying to decide whether to remove the BW but I hate to do so since it is a lovely tree. Any thoughts on this?

      Thanks

      Sue

      ps I will be moving my rhodos!

  25. sheila miller says:

    How do climbing roses do? I’m just outside of the drip line (it’s in my neighbour’s garden) and my roses are showing trouble the closer to the fence they are. I lived with BWs inthe backyard for years, and when I moved, I thought I’d got rid of the problem – but then ,my neighbour planted one! Will the roses live?

    • Sheila, I am experimenting myself with roses so I don’t have a solid answer. I have climbing roses growing a little outside the drip line and they are only so-so, but certainly not dead. But it may also be that the soil there is quite dry. I can’t believe your neighbor planted a black walnut!

  26. MorrisCty, NJ says:

    Hi Sue,

    You might want to consult a master arborist on this one. It may take a number of years before the black walnut begins to affect the nearest white pines, but in the meantime, the black walnut may still be small enough to move! Ask also about the overall health of your pines to see what the odds are that they will live as long as it takes for the black walnut to have its effect. If the pines are in decline anyway, you may not need to do anything about the BW.

    Good luck!
    Bridget

  27. MorrisCty, NJ says:

    Sue,

    Another thought is you might try to plant some red mulberry trees around the black walnut.

    Apparently, mulberry trees form a buffer between black walnut juglone and other plants in the area. See the following for more details. I’ll also attach the link to the forum where I found it. There are many other helpful links and great information included in the various responses.

    Taken from http://midwestpermaculture.ning.com/group/plantguilds/forum/topics/blackwalnut-plant-guilds:

    Reply by Ezekiel Handsome-Lake on March 22, 2010 at 9:58am
    In my experience Mulberry does phenominally next to black walnut, both red (native) and white (chinese) thrive and fruit normally as close as can be to a black walnut. Also, my reading leads me to believe that Mulberry will create a buffer in to soil inhibiting juglone from passing to plants on the other side of a Mulberry root zone my observations in the field support this. Also, most alleopathic plants are concerned with disabling competition (hence the lack of grass under black walnuts because they are both surface feeders.) Therefore, many plants, such as smallfruits, should not be affected by alleopathic chemicals produced by trees.
    The guild in Gaia’s Garden was designed in AZ and therefore there is a difference in the character of their hackberry. Hacks in the SW USA are a shrub or small tree, whereas in the Midwest they almost always attain the height of a large tree (Hackberry seeds are an excellent late season sugar source for humans and wildlife.) Because of their larger size in the North (and the fact that they are also alleopaths,) they made compete pretty vigorously with a co-planted walnut.
    As far as nightshade, i’ve heard peppers work fine but tomatoes i’ve heard both sides, some say they work some say they don’t.
    Black Locust is a good native nitrogen fixer, is very hardy and attracts a million bees, a guild which centered a black walnut with a Black Locust (coppicable, and good fuel wood,) nurse and a circle of mulberry (mulberry can be pruned heavily to shape or keep low,) could probably grow quite a wider range of food than a Walnut with no buffer.

  28. Tom Price says:

    Has anyone had success planting Winterberry, Bayberry, or Serviceberry under Black Walnut trees? I’ve seen conflicting information on Winterberry and Serviceberry and nothing on Bayberry.

    • Hi Tom,

      I grow Winterberries just outside the dripline of a black walnut and they thrive. Unfortunately I don’t have personal experience with the other two; I too have seen conflicting info on the serviceberries.

      Best of luck, Mary

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  30. I moved my yellow Lady Slippers to an area underneath my Black Walnuts. I didn’t know about Juglone at the time. They turned black by the end of summer. I was thinking of trying to move them again and see if they come back. Beautiful plant to lose, I nearly cried, was my mother’s.

    • That’s terrible! What a painful experience. Thank you foe sharing this info…the BW can be a cruel beast…

    • I’m so sorry to hear that the lady slippers died! I hate to lose a plant that has a family connection like that. I have been growing yellow lady slippers under my black walnut for about five years with success. There may have been some other reason, besides the tree.

      • Great point, Lisa. I tend to blame all of my backyard casualties on my black walnut trees, but there are so many ways a plant can die, aren’t there? So glad the lady slippers have been a success for you!

  31. Every Black Walnut companion list seems to have the same few plants listed for friend and foe. None of which are the plants I need to know about. Will edible herbs grow near the trees. Basil, oregano, cilantro, chives, rosemary, thyme, mint, chamomile, lavander, etc?

    • Sorry, Cathy. I grow nearly all my herbs in containers, so I don’t have any first hand knowledge. At least herbs are a relatively small investment so you could certainly experiment…

    • Hi Cathy,
      I have had luck with lots of herbs. Oregano, mint (including other members of the mint family such as lemon balm and bee balm), chives, garlic, sage, and lavender. My basil always seems to get eaten by bugs before I know if it will thrive.
      Best,
      Rachel

    • Hi Cathy, I have grown most of those herbs (haven’t tried camomile or lavender) both under & away from BW. They grew under the BW, althought not as strong as the garden away from the BW.

  32. i’m with mary on this one…..i grew my herbs, mostly just basil, in pots….where they THRIVED!!!

  33. Jodi DiLiberto says:

    Thank you, Mary for doing this research, and to everyone who has posted here. It is so helpful! I have a black walnut right at the edge of a garden and I love it! I wasn’t aware of the toxicity until pretty recently and wondered why some flowers just wouldn’t surive. Now, I can plan better. There is an azalea and a hydrangea which have been there since before I bought this house, almost 20 years ago and they have always been fine. There are also daylilies, blackberries, asclepias, foxglove and hibiscus which are thriving.

    • Jodi, thank you for your input! I am wondering…what kind of hydrangea do you have planted under your BW? A macrophylla? I ask because I have twice tried oak leaf hydrangea with no success. I am also surprised to hear about the thriving azalea, since azalea are on most lists of juglone sensitive plants. The more people I talk to who have black walnuts, the more I am convinced that the overall conditions play just as great a role as the juglone…soil moisture, pH, etc., and maybe sometimes it is enough to overcome the negative effects of the juglone?

      • Jodi DiLiberto says:

        Sorry about that! It is a macrophylla. It actually grows around the tree, completely circling it. It is as though it is defying fate and laughing at it! I planted the foxglove and asclepias just a couple of years ago, but every other plant I mentioned has been there for at least 20 years. There must be something coming into play to counteract the juglone’s effects.

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  35. Eileen MacGairdener says:

    May I ramble a bit? I have a terrible tummy bug and don’t dare move much today, so for some odd reason I decided to check if there might be a list of plants that would do well under what I think is a Black Walnut in my yard. And guess what? I found you! I moved into this house 4 years ago in August. I know I’m just renting, but I told my landlord that I had a habit of planting things, and he said that was fine! Oh, Happy Day!!! :) So this is my third Spring here. (I’m in Western Montana by the way) One of the first things I did when my lads and I moved in was to plant a handful of Vinca (the perennial one with pretty periwinkle flowers) that my mum gave me, under that odd but beautiful looking tree in the front yard. Because of the way my brain is wired I’m a try-it-and-see type gardener. (well, I do just about everything that way) So I had noticed that directly under this lovely but odd looking tree, there was no grass growing even though the yard extends up under it. The soil underneath was very dry and powdery and had a funny feeling in my fingers, even when watered. (Kinda reminded me of the soil under my mum’s Blue Spruce) I figured this was probably due to the fact that the people who’d been here before didn’t water much (The house had been empty for 4 months, too.) It seemed though, that the funny powdery feel of the soil had to be something more, maybe this interesting tree released something in it’s leaves or stems that made the soil acid or something. It seemed to shed alot of 8 or 9 inch smooth twigs that looked like where the leaves had been attached (we’re very dry here in August and this tree really hadn’t been watered much that summer, so it also didn’t look very happy. So figuring that Vinca grew quite contentedly under my mum’s big old Maple also here in Missoula, maybe it’d at least grow under this tree and cover that bare spot. Next Spring the brave little buggers surprised me by spreading all over into the bare dirt under the tree. They don’t seem to compete with the grass, just grow like crazy wherever there no grass! Tree seemed a bit happier, but didn’t seem to produce any nuts, so I thought maybe I was wrong in my identification. Watered the tree as much as I could that year, it did look really neglected, and if I was right that it was Black Walnut, it really shouldn’t be growing here. I’d looked them up and they need way more moisture than we have. But….. Oh, there is also a damaged section where two branches are cracked part way through, so they dangle down, but they continue to put out leaves and last Summer there were nuts! I thought about asking my landlord to have these branches removed, but I like the way they dangle down, they make a little secret arbour like place and I hang pots of petunias and bird feeders and water dishes there. I didn’t get any nuts because the *&!@#* squirrels stole them all, but I may be able to outsmart them this year. :) Last Summer the tree really began to look happy, like it was cared for, healthier foliage and, like I said, nuts, but then it was attacked in early Summer by hordes of nasty little green veggipires. (Aphids) I began to worry. I am a Gardener-on-a-tight-budget, so there was nothing much I could do but water the poor bugger. A few weeks later one of my boys found these funny little fuzzyish, greyish, orangeish scary looking bugs on a lot of the leaves and wanted to know if he should squish them or try to knock them off with the hose. “NO!” I said, “Those are good bugs!” he said, “Mom! There’s so many of them! And they’re creepy looking!” I said, “I know, but to me they are beautiful, they are baby hunter bugs and they will save our tree!” “WHAT?” my child was incredulous, “They’re creepy looking!” Yep, baby ladybugs are kinda creepy looking. :) in a few more weeks, the leaves stopped being sticky and dripping and there wasn’t a veggipire to be found. So this Spring, the Vinca is just about to come into full flower and is growing like crazy, extending into the backyard bare spot (The tree is next to the fence that separates the two) (Border Collie Dodger’s favorite place to lay in the Summer is in that bare dirt under the Black Walnut.) There’s a few odd spots on some of the older Vinca, looks almost like powdery mildew or something and a few leaves dying and droppping off, I neglected to rake the leaves and twigs off of it last Autumn, so maybe that’s it, but my mum’s under her Maple which has been happy for 15 years is doing the same thing and looks worse than mine. Guess we’ll see what happens… As for composting the debris, I also have 2 Norway Maples and by the time I’m ready to rake those leaves up, the Walnut leaves have pretty much decomposed into the lawn leaving nothing but the twigs. I just chuck it all in, but my compost pile is pretty young and pretty casual. (I don’t do it right, I pile everything up in a corner and let it stew. I hardly ever turn it, I do layer kitchen scraps with the leaves but mostly so the neighbors don’t object:) Then, after the veggie garden is done, but before I rake this years crop of leaves, I haul it all down to the veggie garden and till it all in.) I like my tree, I like to lay in the grass underneath it in Spring and Summer and look at the pretty swirls of leaves layer on layer into the sky. Some plants, like some people, need special consideration and don’t get on with everybody, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth cultivating, either as plant friends or human friends. :) I’d thought about trying hostas (never had much use for them, but I’m beginning to see they have merit especially in shady spots) and now I plan to get some for the fence between my neighbor’s yard and mine (also under the tree, it sits in a corner of the front yard) Thanks!!

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Eileen! The leaf stems that fall from the BW drive me a little crazy, since it takes them so long to break down. I usually leave most of them on the ground until early spring, when I finally rake them up and compost them. But you’re right, the leaflets themselves are small and break down really easily.

      I actually have quite a bit of grass (and weeds) growing under my BWs so I think at least some kinds of grass are juglone tolerant. Perhaps your bare spots were just from lack of water, which I imagine is common in western Montana? Glad to hear the vinca is doing well. I have hostas growing happily all over the place under my BWs. They need some moisture to get started, but once established they are quite drought tolerant.

      Happy gardening!

  36. Kim Hewson Garber says:

    I live in central mn and have black walnut trees i love them but all the grass is dying around them what grass seed would work it gets nice sun and water.

  37. Having fun with my yard of BWs and clay soil.
    Heard lilacs don’t do well but my Korean Dwarf lilac is doing reasonably well. About 3.5 feet tall but I’m okay with that. Shasta daisies do great as well.
    Plants that are struggling: peonies unknown type, daffodils (ice follies and King Alfred–neither which are flowering), tulips (mixed bag) and Bearded Iris. The huechera died within a season.
    Thought astilbe did well but haven’t had success–one reason may be giant squirrel hoard of walnuts planted in the middle of them.
    Read that Siberian Iris and Darwin Tulips do well with BWs so thinking of digging up and replacing those this fall. What do you think?

    I really want a rose garden though. Anyone tried roses on here? I heard hybrid musk roses might work. I have a miniature Toy Clown that is surviving well.

    • Becca, thanks for sharing your experience. I have bearded iris and daffodils thriving under my black walnut canopy, and peony doing well just out of the drip line. It just goes to show I think that other factors play into juglone tolerance.

      I’ve lost a couple of the newer heucheras but I have Heuchera ‘Autumn Bride’ and ‘Dale’s Strain’ thriving. None of my astilbes have done well.

      I have one rose ‘The Fairy’ doing well. I just lost a climbing rose ‘Golden Showers’ but again I don’t know if that is because of our brutal winter this year or because I didn’t pamper it enough or if it’s the juglone. I do have a ‘Therese Bugnet’ rose that is tough as nails growing in my side yard, but that is clear of the BW trees.

  38. Mary Haas says:

    I live in in northern indiana – zone 5b. I have several black walnut trees in part of our yard. I have killed clethra, and oakleaf hydrangea by planting too near the trees. I was thinking about moving a couple of fothergilla gardenii to that area. Does anyone have any experience with them near a black walnut tree.

    • I had two Fothergilla ‘Blue Shadow’ growing under the canopy. They did well for two years, but then I had some construction work done in that area and the men trod all over them. They died, but I don’t think it was from my BW.

  39. i had no problem with my pattypan squash under the dripline, but my zucchini and broccoli went pffffffffffftttttt on me!!!!

  40. Terri Stewart says:

    My Black Walnut story:
    I have a 30 year old black walnut in the centre of my front yard in Ajax Ontario (zone 5 sometimes 6). It was planted from a nut the day my daughter was born from a tree in my in-laws yard. For the first 20 years it was mainly grass with a few plants along the house. In the last 10 years I have created gardens and have experimented with a variety of perennials under the tree and right at the dripline. 2 older peonies and a older delphinium have continued to thrive but the eunoymus, mountain laurel and lilacs died as the tree grew. I now have the following doing well:
    Poppies- oriental and iceland
    Iris- many varieties
    Weigela
    Hosta
    Astilbe (small but surviving)
    Heucheras (doing very well despite previous posts)
    Day lily
    Echinacea
    Hardy geraniums
    Jacobs Ladder
    Obediant plant
    Turtlehead
    Phlox
    Thrift
    Sedum
    Centaurea
    Iceplant
    Columbine (which is on just about all no-no lists)
    Bellflower
    Balloon flower
    Artemisia
    Russian Sage

    Achillea, foxglove, daffodils, tulips heucherella, japanes maple continue to struggle

  41. I haven’t read through all the wonderful comments, so this may be repetitious – dwarf goat’s beard seems to thrive underneath my walnut tree. I have it in various locations throughout my yard and this year it is spectacular. Must have been that 20 day span of 20 below zero days and nights hree in Minnesota!

  42. Janice Faint says:

    Last fall we bought a beautiful specimen Fireglow Japanese maple to highlight the front of the house and checked that is was ok to plant near the black walnut. Now it is very dead. We thought it was due to the really hard Michigan winter. There was a previous site comment about a struggling Japanese maple. None of the toxicity lists I have include Acer palmatum. Are we safe to try again or is this not a good choice?

    • Hi Janice,

      I would bet it died from your brutal winter and not the black walnut. That said, I planted a weeping Japanese maple that died; it was expensive so I am not willing to plant another one and take the risk. However, everything I’ve read says that Japanese maples are totally fine with the BWs.

      • MorrisCtyNJ says:

        Hi Mary,
        Japanese Maples seem to thrive in my New Jersey neighborhood. We all (pretty much everyone on the block) have seedlings/saplings from a couple of parent trees in the neighborhood, and we also planted a small weeping JM in our front yard a couple years ago. It is thriving. I think moisture is key. That and soil quality. Maples on our property seem to site themselves where they can get a lot of rain runoff. They like moist, rich soil.

  43. Janice Faint says:

    Thanks Mary,
    I hear you, at least I have the nursery replacement coverage. What is the experience of other BW readers? I would really like to try again but within reason, too much money at risk.

    • Terri Stewart says:

      I have officially declared my Japanese Maple dead. It struggled for 2 years but just would not leaf out this spring. It may have been a combination of the black walnut and the really hard winter here in Southern Ontario

  44. MorrisCtyNJ says:

    I would blame the winter, not the black walnut. I have Japanese Maple seedlings growing all over my property like weeds, and mostly on the black walnut side of the yard.

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  46. Robinson says:

    I love my black walnuts even though they are the gardener’s problem child. I have a very large black walnut in my front yard. I’m getting ready to take a chance on some oak leaf hydrangeas within it’s dripline.

    I have a small stand of young black walnuts surrounding my garden shed. A few years ago I planted ONE celandine poppy (http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/woodland/plants/cel_poppy.htm) and it is absolutely thriving. It has spread far beyond the original plant with little to no attention from me.

    Laura

  47. Margaret Skinner says:

    Yes, I also have green pachysandra growing under my yew hedge row, which is immediately under black walnut trees. Hedge has been there for 30 years or so. Pachysandra has been growing under the hedge for last 3 or 4 years and is multiplying. Also second hosta and daylilies. Purple coneflower (echinacea) although it does tend to try to creep away a little each year as it goes to seed. Also pinky-peach monarda or bee balm grows within the drip line. Heuchera. Enjoy your site.

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  50. Randa Wright says:

    So happy to have found your site! I live in southwestern Ontario and am surrounded by 90′ BW on the north and west side. I’ve been here 27 years and have learned (sometimes the hard way) what will and will not tolerate them. I’ve had no problem with the native yellow lady slippers a mere 5′ from the base of one BW. I’ve been searching for shrubs for the woodland garden right next to the BW and of course on the north side almost complete shade. That garden is predominantly solomons seal, ferns, hosta, heuchera (some do well, some don’t), lily of the valley, creeping campanula, brunerra, hemlock, jack-in-the-pulpit, daylily in the bit of sunlight, japanese and siberian iris, viola, bleeding heart, most bulbs, lilac, wild grape, black mondo grass (really thrives), ornamental grasses such as miscanthus varieties, bleeding heart, cimicifuga, virginia creeper, wisteria, japanese lilac (huge and has been there under a BW for 20+ years), sumac. Some of these plants are further up the yard where there is lots of sun but still next to the BW’s.

    My question is…does anyone know if Enkianthus Showy Lanterns might grow near BW’s???? Any help would be greatly appreciated since I cannot find this shrub on any of the lists.

    It’s nice to know that others struggle with this issue, but there are lots of things we can grow!

    • Thatnks for sharing that great list, Randa! Is Enkianthus an ericacious plant? If so, like the azaleas and rhododendrons, it might not be happy with a BW. As I have said here before, though, every yard can have completely different soil chemistry which is why lists are not always that helpful. I am always for experimenting, as long as it doesn’t break the bank. Good luck!

    • Randa Wright says:

      Thank you, Mary, I will check on that.

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  52. I have so many English walnuts around my property. I was wondering if saffron crocus is tolerant? What about celery, parsley and cilantro? Fennel?

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  54. Is Aucuba japonica BW tolerant? I see Aucuba serratifolia mentioned as having died under the dripline.

  55. I think it is worth trying. I am thinking my Aucuba serratifolia died because my soil is on the alkaline side. Many acid lovers have died in my yard.

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