Growing Together: Allelopathy Explained

Growing Together: Allelopathy Explained

Some plants are introverts and some are social butterflies.

Have you ever heard of Allelopathy?

Allelopathy is the process plants use to communicate to each other using biochemicals. For plants that are incompatible, this process can signal all-out war. Biochemicals are produced in the roots of a plant and mainly impact plants growing in close proximity or in the same soil. Take pine trees for instance. Ever notice how it’s pretty barren underneath a pine tree? That’s allelopathy at work. Walnut trees are great examples of allelopathy at work. Walnut trees produce juglones or walnut chemicals that poison the ground and suppress plant growth around them. Some plants are severely affected by these poisons, dependent on the concentration of these poisons in the soil as well as the distance from the plant and soil type. Some species of grasses, however, are tolerant and can grow close to the tree without disturbance.

Are houseplants affected?

Allelopathy can also be observed in houseplants. Monsteras are a prime example, as they should not be planted in the same pot as other plants, famous for suppressing the growth of other plants around them. For the most part most plants play nice together. the trick is to make sure that you are planting plants of the same type together. For instance, succulents and cacti should never be planted with moss. Moss likes wet conditions and instead should be planted with other plants that flourish in the same dry, arid conditions that they do. Keep your plants of a similar ilk together, and watch how how they work together to help each other out.