Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - June 10, 2014

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Rain Gardens, Drought Tolerant
Title: Plants that will withstand spray from fountain and heat from concrete
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Working on a property in Plano, I have an area around a fountain, surrounded by concrete, in full sun, that receives a lot of water that is blown from the fountain (which is treated with chlorine tablets). What plant would be able to withstand the moisture during the windy season, that is low growing so it doesn't block the fountain and can withstand the heat radiating from the concrete and occasional drying out periods. An evergreen would be preferred but not a necessity. Thanks in advance for your help!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants isn't sure how much chlorine is produced by the chlorine tablets, but that is certainly a factor you need to take into consideration. In Symptoms of Deficiency in Essential Minerals in A Companion to Plant Physiology (OnLine), 4th Edition by Lincoln Taiz and Eduardo Zeiger, Wade Berry says that "Plants are generally tolerant of chloride..." and listed some plants that are sensitive to chloride (avocados, stone fruits and and grapevines). He also wrote that "Chloride is very abundant in soils, and reaches high concentrations in saline areas...".  By the way, chlorine and chloride are often used interchangeably, but chlorine is the element and not really found free in nature.  It is found as chloride  in the form of its salts (e.g., NaCl—sodium chloride or table salt is the commonest form).  This would lead us to believe salt tolerant plants would be good ones to plant by the pool.  Several gardening sources on the internet suggested that plants with waxy leaves would probably be more resistant to chlorine in the splashed water from the pool.  However, a small amount of chlorine in water (consider that most tap water contains chlorine and is successfully used to water indoor and outddor plants) cause no, or little, harm.

Here are a few plants that meet your criteria of withstanding spray from the fountain, heat, occasional drying out and they are evergreen:

Morella cerifera [Synonym = Myrica cerifera] (Wax myrtle) is evergreen, is able to withstand moisture and is drought and saline tolerant.  There are dwarf versions that grow to around 3 feet.   Here is more information from All Native Garden Center, Nursery & Landscapes.

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon) is evergreen and also has a dwarf version, 'Nana', that grows to about 4 feet high but can be pruned to size and shape.

You could also consider sedges (Carex  spp.).   Many of them are evergreen and can tolerate both wet and dry periods along with heat. In general, they are low, growing to less than 1 foot.  Here are a two that grow in Collin County or adjacent counties:

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge)  Here is more information from Illinois Wildflowers.

Carex leavenworthii (Leavenworth's sedge )  Here is more information from YuccaDo Nursery and from Plant Delights Nursery.

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)  Here's more information from Hoffman Nursery.

The situation around the fountain you describe is very similar to the description of rain gardens—areas which flood when it rains, but are often quite dry between rains.  You can find a list of plants that we recommended to the Collin County Master Gardeners here for use in rain gardens.

 

From the Image Gallery


Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Drought tolerant plants for MA
August 28, 2011 - We have some very very poor soil at our house on Cape Cod and are looking for plants that will take low water and sandy soil. Also we are high on a hill and quite exposed to the elements. The plot get...
view the full question and answer

Replacing Drought-Stricken Cedars
January 16, 2012 - Hello, I live in Williamson County on a couple acres. We have several dead cedars as a result of drought; we're reluctant to cut them down because many of them provide a friendly barrier between us...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Austin thicket underlayer
July 25, 2014 - We live in Austin, west of 183. We are planning to put a thicket in our backyard, where there is no threat of deer. Anchoring the thicket are a clump of live oaks, a Texas persimmon, an Eve's Necklac...
view the full question and answer

Non-native lambs ears wilting in heat from Fredericksburg TX
October 19, 2011 - 3 days ago I had professional landscaping done in an area with plants that tolerate heat & sun well. We planted 7 healthy, large lambs ear & mulched. Everything planted is doing well except the lambs ...
view the full question and answer

Native replacement for non-native Bermudagrass in Leander TX
October 16, 2011 - We have Bermuda grass. Large patches have died due to the drought and our yard has been taken over by weeds and St. Augustine grass whose seeds must have blown in. Even when the grass was in great con...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.