Best plants for soil detox?



  • norabelehcim
    norabelehcim Posts: 58 ✭✭✭

    I have seen plantain leaf, violets, alpine sandwort, maybe buttercups, mushrooms, and several types of fern grow around toxic soil, old mines, slabs etc. Possibly their wide leaves can absorb and shed levels of foxic substances substances as they photosynthesize and prepare for the next year's growth. I might not forage or eat these for some time. Bacteria cultures, mushrooms and some other growths assist as well.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 712 ✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2020

    @norabelehcim I am anxious for them to launch the De-Tox Your Garden Soil cerification course.  I am thinking it will be great. 

  • coach.janet.bolton
    coach.janet.bolton Posts: 6 ✭✭✭

    Going back to the subject of how to dispose of plants used to detox soil, I'm thinking this would be the time to dig a hole and prepare a good size red wiggler farm. Those little guys seem to be good at cleaning up just about anything except metal.

    Anyone have experience with using them this way? Thanks!

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @coach.janet.bolton I know some fungi can take care of toxins in the soil. Don't know about red worms. Maybe @silvertipgrizz will do some research on this? She is great at finding things and sharing them with people on TGN

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,989 ✭✭✭✭✭



    I spent at least an hour looking for sources for you and the one article 'dirt doc' shown in the previous post just above here is the only one that came through and I have no Idea why. Tomorrow I will try again as soon as I have time. I found some things that hopefully you will find good reads, and a couple of vids...

  • melbetology
    melbetology Posts: 6

    Using the terms “hyperaccumulator” and “phytoremediation” might help find more examples. I found these terms when looking at the work of an artist named Mel Chin from 1990 called “Revival Field”. Interesting work and ongoing.

  • melbetology
    melbetology Posts: 6

    Here is a link with a bit of background to a few of Mel Chin’s projects.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 6,200 admin

    Horsetail & scouring rush also take up agricultural chemicals. If you have cattails, it does the same.

    If you are in a clean area with clean water, a few parts of the cattail are edible.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning Back in the early 70's before Euell Gibbons was doing Grape Nuts ads, I read his book "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" and lived in western Michigan where there were wetlands with cattails in abundance. I gathered cattail pollen and roots starch to make pancakes. Only did it once. It was a lot of work and I din't think it was worth the effort.

  • Momma Mo
    Momma Mo Posts: 138 ✭✭✭

    Great discussion and lots of good information!

  • siobhanashmole
    siobhanashmole Posts: 35 ✭✭✭

    Corriander is a great detoxifying plant for heavy metal accumulation, but we dispose of it as if it is toxic waste when we're done with it. I've done it in an urban area next to a large industrial complex with high air pollution and verified heavy metal poisoning cases and the plants actually smelt bad!!! We did it as a preparation phase to a communal veggie garden, but after that first crop of corriander was so bad people did not want to grow food there. Probably good thing too!

    Vetiver is an amazing water filtration plant, surprised it hasn't come up here, but again for the first few years if it's filtering really toxic something; we dispose of it as waste. No composting, no using for mulch or medicine. It has a super dense root system and we use it for grey water filtration and for cleaning up rivers. A neighbor on a family farm used it to try to stop the flow of mining waste from a nearby property from coming down the river.

    I have seen that some toxins can be decomposed by bacteria (thinking humanure people might know something about how to do this safely). I imagine it would require separate compost on a longer cycle to the stuff you're growing food with. I doubt heavy metals have a safe composting route, but some organic toxins could be reprocessed. Looking forward to the course!!

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @siobhanashmole . I knew coriander/cilantro was a great detoxifying plant for us, but I didn't realize it was also good for the soil. Thank you so much for this tip. It is hard for me to not return the "used" plant material back to the soil. It just seems wrong to me to put it in the landfill. At the same time, I realize that if the plant has pulled heavy metals and other toxic agents from the soil, it is counterproductive to retoxify the soil by using it for compost, mulch etc. That is unless the composting or breaking down as a mulch allows the fungi, bacteria etc to actually detoxify the agents in the plants that they pulled from the soil. I am hoping the class will help answer this and other questions when it finally launches.

  • siobhanashmole
    siobhanashmole Posts: 35 ✭✭✭

    @tomandcara I'm sure there must be a good way to deal with the plant material! If we can detoxify human waste with the proper systems there must be a way to deal with these other substances. Heavy metals are particularly difficult though as a category.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @siobhanashmole There has been great ideas here in this discussion, however it has also raised questions in my mind. One of which is what to do with the plant material. Our bodies do biotransformation ( and I know other organisms do as well. There is Phytoremediation, (plants), Mycoremediation (fungi), Bioremedaition (bacteria). I guess I am looking for a simple answer to a complex problem and I am hoping when this class finally launches, I will get answers to questions like how many seasons does it take to detox the soil?, is there an actual use of the accumulator plants after detoxing the soil? etc.

  • Hassena
    Hassena Posts: 345 ✭✭✭

    Great question! Such wonderful insights. I scrolled through the post didn't see a mention of phytoremediation.

    Depending on what you want to pull from the soil and what your growing climate is will depend on the plants selected. It's like nature always seeks a balance.

    Mushrooms are great and specific to certain kinds of metals. Paul Stamets book on how mushrooms can the save the world. Great read!

    Sunflowers were used to cleanse the soil of the rice fields after the tsunami brought salt water into the fields. Those sunflowers could likley serve another purpose as feed.

    So many great resources ya''ll are sharing. :)

    COWLOVINGIRL Posts: 954 ✭✭✭✭

    Hey guys! I'm new to soil detox. What is it?!

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @COWLOVINGIRL TGN academy has a certification course (available soon) titled "DE-TOX YOUR GARDEN SOIL" I saw this last April and I had just heard from a commercial cannabis grower that cannabis was a great soil de-toxifier. THe only down side was that the first seeral years the cannabis pulled so many bad things out of the soil, the cultivator said the crop was unusable. That was what got me started with this discussion, not certain when the course would actually be availble, or what exactly the course would cover. When we first moved into our current suburban home 27 years ago there were spots where the prior owners had done something to the soil and no matter what I planted there it died. It took years to get those areas able to support plant life again. We will still have to wait to see what "soil detox" is according to the certification course until it actually is available. but I would say soil detox is taking "sick" soil and cleaning out heavy metals and different pollutants and chemicals that are detrimental to life.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @Hassena here is a link for phytoremediation: and another: I just am waiting for someone to simplify this for me. I should probably take the time to read the articles. It is just there is so much to learn and time is a restriction that between it and my energy, I just wait for things to be made simple. As I type this, I realize it sounds bad. I love learning. There are just too many things I want to know. A jack of all trades and a master of none???

  • Hassena
    Hassena Posts: 345 ✭✭✭

    @tomandcara now worries. :) There is so much to learn. I don't know about you...but the more I learn, I more I realize I need to learn. haha

    This is a really BIG topic. People all over the world are utilizing plants to clean soils. If the area is large enough recycling facilities are in place. That is awesome.

    For most folks with small areas that they are cleaning up. If you feel the soil is contaminated grow a mix of plants like sunflowers, pumpkins and different greens like mustard and grasses. Most plants will absorb toxins/metals. Just be sure to dispose of the plants properly. Don't compost and don't offer for feed. disposal of the plants is the best option to consider.

    Happy growing.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    Thank you @Hassena

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    You are very welcome @COWLOVINGIRL

  • earwig46
    earwig46 Posts: 4 ✭✭✭

    Did anyone read this about detoxing soil after hurricane Katrina?

    Below's another article on it

    Don't know what's going on lately but sharing this anyways.

  • Jannajo
    Jannajo Ms. Pointe-Claire, QuebecPosts: 173 ✭✭✭

    I took the first course on cannabis-growing, but I am still not sure how to obtain the first seeds-perhaps hemp wld be even better, for I am abt to use these to detox soil and give it some rest-just have to get the seeds somehow! I have some cannabis flowers, is this good to plant?

  • aurora.rebecca
    aurora.rebecca Posts: 62 ✭✭✭

    Yes I had recently read about sunflowers being a soil detoxifier!

    As well as corn

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @Jannajo I am thinking if you want to detox your soil before growing cannabis for use, sunflower seeds are much cheaper and easier to obtain than hemp or cannabis seeds and they are a good soil detoxifier. There are a number of other suggestions for soil detox in this discussion. Whatever plants you use to detox your soil should be disposed of and not used, consumed or put into compost.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @earwig46 Awesome reference. Thank you. I liked the lists like:

    Plants that take in Heavy Metals

    Lead Sunflower, Indian Mustard, Peas, Asiatic dayflower Arsenic Indian Mustard, Brake Fern, Lambsquarters

    Chromium Indian Mustard, Spinach, Carrots Selenium Indian Mustard

    Cadmium Radish, Indian Mustard, Pea, Corn, Spinach, Carrot

    Nickel Indian Mustard, Spinach, Carrot Zinc Indian Mustard, Spinach, Carrot

    Copper, Manganese, Iron Spinach,

    Organo Chlorines (persistant pesticides like PCBs) Pumpkin, Zuchini, Tall Fescue, Rye, Spearmint, Oyster Mushrooms and Turkey Tail Fungi

    DDT Indian Mustard, Pumpkin, and Zuchini

    PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) Fescue, Small Bluestem, Big Bluestem or Indiangrass and Oyster Mushrooms *

    I don't need to tell you there is a step by step toxic soil clean up guide @earwig46 , because you gave us the link, but I mention it here so it may encourage someone who has not looked at this reference to read it.

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