Allelopath turf wars: How did I not know this?

lucillleMay 8, 2012

I am planting a mixed border including shrubs, wildflowers, Ipmoea Margarite and some smaller sunflowers. A few roses are included but they are several feet from the next plant. It turns out that the Ipmoea and sunflowers are allelopaths, they secrete substances that keep some types of nearby plants from growing well.

I find it amazing that plants war with each other this way, I had no idea.

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Yes, it's fascinating and can also be used to our advantage. Scientists are publishing research on interplanting crops with wild plants that suppress unwanted weeds, as a way of reducing the use of herbicides. I employ the same strategy in interplanting my rose beds.

Here's an interesting link on the subject--and I was fascinated to see that mango leaf powder suppresses purple nutsedge, which we're constantly at war with here in south Louisiana:

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 9:42AM
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seil zone 6b MI

Black walnut trees are the best known example of this. Their roots are so toxic that very few thing will grow any where near them including grass.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 10:19AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Ailanthus or Tree of Heaven is another soil-poisoner.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:45PM
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Add Oleander and the litter from Eucalyptus. Kim

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 4:43PM
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Campanula UK Z8

People grow sunflowers all over the allotment but not me anymore - not much leaches the soil of nutrients more than sunflowers. When I first started on my plot, of course I grew numerous sunflowers,but even me, the most unobservant gardener, could not fail to notice the rubbish crops where sunflowers had previously been allowed to selfseed. Although not exactly allelopathic, sunflowers are famously grown around Chernobyl and also Fukujima as they are superb facillitators for phyto- remediation, literally sucking toxins out of the soil and storing heavy metals and such in the plant tissues. At times, I wish I was not such a thicko at science and technology so I could more fully understand plants and their relationships within a wider ecosystem.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 5:03PM
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I had to chuckle, Suzan, when I was in grade school in Alabama, umpteen dozen years ago, The Tennessee Valley Authority was powering up their nuclear power plants. One of the programs they brought to school children was how on the banks along the reactors, the only plant which would tolerate the heat and other conditions was crab grass! They gave away packets of radiated tomato seeds to all the little kiddies, too. Cotton is another which depletes the soil terribly. It destroyed many acres of farmland in the south before they learned better. Kim

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 5:27PM
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