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Mr. Smarty Plants - Plants that will withstand spray from fountain and heat from concrete

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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

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