- Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

Q. I have a lot of black walnut trees in my yard in Carroll County. I was wondering if there is any kind of flowers I could grow around these trees. Most people I know say there is nothing that will grow or survive around these trees.

A. While many plants grow well in proximity to black walnut, there are certain plant species that are inhibited by this tree. The causal agent is a chemical called juglone, which occurs naturally in all parts of the black walnut but especially in the buds, nut hulls and roots. Plants that are adversely affected by juglone exhibit yellowing foliage, wilting and eventually death.

Flowers that have been observed to tolerate juglone include begonia, daylily, hosta, ornamental grasses, pansy, phlox, trillium, violet, zinnia and many more.

Flowers that have been observed to be sensitive to juglone include baptisia, columbine, hydrangea, true lily, petunia and some (not all) chrysanthemums, daffodils and peony.

You’ll find more detailed information about juglone tolerant and susceptible plants in Purdue Extension bulletin HO-193 www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-193.pdf.

Q. I have a bush in my front yard (Southern Indiana) that I am trying to identify. I am in pest control, and I’ve seen these same bushes used as landscaping, and they attract large numbers of insects of many varieties.

A. I hesitate to venture a guess, as it is quite difficult to accurately identify a plant from just the leaves alone, unless distinguished by a unique shape, such as oak, tuliptree or maple. The leaves that you sent were 2-3 inches long, oval and medium green color, which fits the description of quite a number of species. But if I had to guess based on just these leaves alone, I’m leaning toward one of the Euonymus species, and they are prone to scale insects and aphids.

A key feature when trying to narrow down the choices would be whether the leaves are arranged one at a time alternately along the stem or as a pair of leaves opposite one another. Other helpful information is whether flowers and/or fruit have ever been observed and if so, color, size, and time of year would be useful.

Bring a 6-8-inch section of twig with leaves attached and any other information you can provide to Purdue Extension office in your county, and the staff can help you determine the plant’s identity. You’ll find contact information for Purdue Extension county offices at www.ag.purdue.edu/extension/Pages/Counties.aspx.

Q. I’ve been trying to find for some time now seeds for what my mother used to call ground cherries. My yard is very small and these small bushy-like plants would fit well. They hang from the stems in lantern-shaped pods and ripen to a yellow fruit that is delicious in pies.

A. Ground cherries are the fruit of Physalis sp., and there are actually a number of cultivars and varieties available. They are related to tomatoes, not cherries, but are so named because the fruit are about the size and shape of a large cherry and are relatively sweet and fruity in flavor. The cultivars Pineapple, Aunt Molly and Yellow Husk have yellow, sweet fruits. Other varieties differ in flavor and color, such as purple and green, and are referred to as tomatillos. Check with your local garden centers as they may carry the seed or can order for you. You can also order direct from mail-order companies, including www.seedsavers.orgwww.reimerseeds.comwww.veseys.com, www.victoryseeds.com.

Q. Which strawberry plants do well in the Columbus, Ind., area and have the best flavor? I remember when I was young our strawberries were wonderful. I have an elevated bed (3 tier) I started last year.

A. Choosing a strawberry cultivar for flavor is really a personal preference, as humans vary considerably in opinions regarding what is the best! Further, making cultivar recommendations is difficult with strawberries, in particular, because they tend to be very site specific. A cultivar that may be outstanding in your neighbor’s garden may do poorly for you.

Three types of strawberry plants are available: Junebearers that fruit once each season, Dayneutrals that fruit several times each season and Everbearers that, despite their name, fruit twice each season. Junebearers are the most widely adapted and recommended in Indiana. Cultivars of Junebearers, which have performed well across a range of sites, include Earliglow, Redchief, Honeoye, Guardian, Surecrop, Jewell and Sparkle. See Purdue Extension bulletin HO-46 www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-46.pdf for a more complete discussion of cultivar selection and growing information for strawberries.

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