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Garden Crop Families

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
April 15, 2015        
Source:  Beth Berlin, Extension Educator-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties


Garden Crop Families
By Beth Berlin, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (04/15/15) — Knowing your plant families is important when it comes to crop rotation and avoiding continuous disease or virus issues, as well as soil fertility in your vegetable and fruit gardens.  Many diseases and pests will impact multiple crops in the same family. It is also critical to know the ornamental and weeds in the same family as the vegetable and fruit crops, for they can harbor the same problems.  

Here is a breakdown of many popular garden crop families followed by a list of some of the ornamentals and weeds in the same family:

  • Brassicaceae: Crop: horseradish, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, turnips, radish, rutabaga, and bok-choi. Ornamentals: alyssum, stock, candytuft. Weeds: shepherd’s-purse, field pennycress.
  • Chenopodiaceous: Crop: beet, Swiss chard, spinach. Weeds: lamb’s quarters
  • Cucurbitaceae: Crop: cucumbers, melons, squash, pumpkins, and gourds. Ornamental or Weed: None noted.
  • Fabaceae: Crop: beans, and peas. Weeds: vetches, clovers, black medic.
  • Poaceae: Crop: corn. Ornamental: ornamental grasses. Weeds: brome, wild oats, crabgrass, orchard grass, quack grass, foxtail.
  • Liliaceae: Crop: asparagus, onions, leeks, chives, garlic, and shallot. Ornamentals: tulip, daffodil, hosta, hyacinth, daylily. Weeds: wild garlic and onions.
  • Polygonaceae: Crop: rhubarb. Weeds: knotweed, smartweed.
  • Rosaceae: Crop: apples, apricots, cherries, pears, plums, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries. Ornamentals: roses.
  • Solanaceae: Crop: peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. Ornamentals: petunia. Weeds: nightshade.

With this knowledge, gardeners should avoid planting members from the same family in succession to reduce disease and pest problems. It is also important to remove weeds in the same family that could be harboring the same problems. Finally there are particular plant families that should not be planted in succession to other plant families. For example the Solanaceae plants should not be planted after Rosaceae plants have been in that space and vice-versa due to Verticillium wilt which impacts both families.

Another important reason to know your plant families and perform crop rotation is because certain families tend to be heavy feeders. The Solanaceae and Liliaceae families are good examples of heavy-feeders; while the Fabaceae family can actually add nitrogen to the soil.

By simply knowing the plant families, gardeners could have a more plentiful harvest with less problems during the growing season.             


Beth Berlin
Extension Educator, Horticulture
(320) 255-6169
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