I want to plant a Virginia sweetspire. The area where I'm thinking of planting it has a black walnut tree in it. Does anyone know if the black walnut is toxic to Virginia sweetspires? Thanks in advance!
Kate from Berkeley Springs, WV
Hi there! Black walnuts are a real pain this way... I googled "juglone poisoning" and didn't get much. I've never really been able to get much from online articles on this. If you do find a website that seems to have definitive answers on what is tolerant and what isn't, you can click on another and find the complete opposite. Here's what I've done. Go ahead and plant it near the walnut- Wait a year (I know, this part is horrible) and see how it does by mid spring next year. What most places will tell you is that if it "fails to thrive", you should move it. The sweetspire shouldn't die. (I can't say won't die, but I'm 99% sure it won't) What will happen if it's susceptible to the juglone is that it will seem listless, and might not put out as much new growth, or it'll come back smaller than it was this year. The good news is that you can move it and it will recover nicely. This is all assuming you have another place you are willing to put it if this spot doesn't work out. And honestly, the only way I've been able to fully trust whether something can tolerate it or not is to try it. You shouldn't lose the plant, and you'll have a definite answer.
Funny story- The way I discovered this black walnut toxicity was when I planted a rhodie underneath one and it slowly died. I got onto my husband, accusing him of peeing on it (It was underneath a balcony and you know how guys are) and killing it with too much acid. He swore he didn't do it, so I was forced to look up alternative causes of death. :)
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