How to Grow Black Walnut Trees


The black walnut tree (Juglans nigra) is native to North America and one of the most valued trees, providing shade, nutritious nuts and lumber with a variable grain that takes on a glowing sheen when sanded and polished. Given proper care and space, the black walnut can grow to be 75 feet tall and equally as wide.

Step 1

Plant your black walnut trees out in the open, where they'll get plenty of sunlight and have room to grow.

Step 2

To encourage your trees to produce nuts, plant at least two black walnuts, so they can pollinate one another.

Step 3

Plant the trees in soil that drains well, if you can. If that's not possible, choose the spot with the best soil available for them. Black walnuts grow best in light, loamy soil, but they can grow in just about anything, from loam to sand to clay.

Step 4

For each tree, dig a hole that's about a foot wider and deeper than the tree's root ball. Put the tree gently into the hole, so as not to damage the roots, and push soil in around the roots until you've filled the hole. Add enough dirt around the tree to cover the roots up by at least 6 inches.

Step 5

Water your trees well and regularly for the first year or two.

Tips and Warnings

  • The roots of the black walnut secrete juglone, a toxin, when other plants' roots touch the tree's roots. Juglone can kill many different plants, including vegetables like cabbage, peppers, tomatoes and peas; berry bushes and fruit trees like blackberry, blueberry, cherry and apple; flowering plants such as lilac, azalea, hydrangea and rhododendron; trees and shrubs like chestnut, pine, serviceberry, privet and arborvitae; and members of the heath family. Be sure to plant your black walnut trees well away from any of these plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Black walnut trees
  • Shovel
  • Water


  • Black Walnut (Juglans nigra): Arbor Day Foundation
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map: U.S. National Arboretum
Keywords: black walnut tree, walnuts, juglone

About this Author

Cheyenne Cartwright has worked in publishing for more than 25 years. She has served as an editor for several large nonprofit institutions, and her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including "Professional Bull Rider Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oklahoma Christian University and a Master of Arts in English from the University of Tulsa.