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Upper Midwest Gardening: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds Allelopathic? HELP! Zone 5b

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Forum: Upper Midwest GardeningReplies: 4, Views: 41
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Buffalo Grove, IL

January 9, 2011
4:07 PM

Post #8301239

Hi. We feed birds in feeders and on the ground-- black oil sunflower seeds. Now I discover they are toxic to some kinds of perennials. My husband has been shoveling the husks along with snow onto my newly dug, soon to be flower garden. I plan to plant a flower garden this spring. I dug it, added lots of compost, mulch and prepared it in the fall. The hulls are scattered throughout and are now covering my garden. Any thoughts? Should I be worried? I can rake off the top. Any help would be appreciated. Hope you can ease my mind. Thanks.
south central, WI
(Zone 5a)

January 10, 2011
11:23 AM

Post #8302709

Some of mine end up it the one narrow shade bed. I rake out as much as possible that is not in the regular "scoop up the seeds area". I think the major issue under my feeder is when the 2" of hulls that collect during winter are not removed by the start of general growing time ie" the grass gets really sparse.. My 2 Japanese anemones that are "hit" the hardest are doing just fine, as I rake those out first.. I think you have done just fine..certainly more than I do.:)
Des Plaines, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 12, 2011
12:26 PM

Post #8306942

I had no idea black oil sunflower was toxic to plants - mine have been getting hit for years with it and they're fine! Actually, I couldn't stand the mess of the seeds building up on the ground below, so I built a stone patio, about 5' X 5' under the feeding station and it gets the brunt. Like Marcia, about 2" of hulls by the end of winter! But the seed sprays a bit farther and gets into annuals - impatients, potatoe vines, browalia, and some perennials - a Little Henry Itea shrub, ferns and hostas. They're all fine!! I wouldn't put tons in, just because it would cause an imbalance of materials to break down, but I wouldn't worry about it.
Buffalo Grove, IL

January 12, 2011
3:35 PM

Post #8307289

Thanks for your messages. We ended up raking out as much as we could before this recent snow and switching to Wild Birds Unlimited "No Mess" seeds. Because it is a brand new bed, with new soil and no established plants, I didn't want to take the risk. I'm hoping to include some annuals from seed and such, as well as planting perennials. When I read more about the chemical effect of the black oil sunflower seed and hulls, it seems the biggest effect is on germination of new plants, such as seedlings, and new starts in the spring. It has less of an effect on established plants in established beds, and according to the very knowledgeable shop owner at Wild Birds Unlimited, some plants, like Hosta, are not at all bothered by the seeds. Thanks again. I'm happier without the mess of the seed hulls anyway.


Leesburg, FL
(Zone 9b)

January 12, 2011
6:14 PM

Post #8307569

there is one gal... KyWoods - i saw a comment that she had made last year or so where she said that her dad killed all her hostas ... and something about the BOSS shells.

I have a squirrel feeder that drops tons of shells. I try to shovel/rake them away from all my plants... I decided to move my Frosted Jade hosta, just to be safe.

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