En EspaÑol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - December 16, 2007

From: Rockledge, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Problem Plants
Title: Prevention of algae scum on standing water
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Because your answer to a previous question has resolved an "issue" referent to proper care of our cordgrass plants, I'm back to ask your advice. The pond behind our condominium complex is man-made and is not spring-fed. It's "standing-water" content comes from area rainfall that is funneled into the pond. Over the past several months, the top of the pond has developed patches of "scum" (algae growth) that moves across its surface depending on the direction of the wind. It is somewhat unsightly and residents have asked if it could be removed. We have have been told by area businesses that we could clear it out, but it might result in increased algae growth. To be blunt, it's pretty nasty looking. Can we/should we remove it? Again, thanks for your previous help. It was sincerely appreciated by all concerned.


Just to bring everyone up to speed on the cordgrass issue, please refer to this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer. Your standing water problem does not stem from the cordgrass, but we're flattered that you came back to us with another question on the landscape management of your condominium complex.

If we understand you correctly, the water area in question is basically a retention pond, and not intended as a scenic feature of the property. This website on Retention Pond Facts, originating from several organizations in Florida, gives some information on their purposes and problems. These ponds are designed to address the increase of development in an area creating more impervious areas; i.e., paving, parking lots, driveways, and buildings, where storm runoff cannot readily soak into the soil. The retention pond traps some of this runoff, preventing further flooding downstream. It also traps pollutants such as excess lawn and garden fertilizer, pesticides, animal waste and motor oil, helping to protect the quality of water in natural waterways downstream.

The bad news is that the water is just sitting there in the pond, with all of that bad stuff in it. Sometimes oxygen is introduced into water in this sort of situation by waves, wind or other means of mixing some oxygen in for aerobic decomposition of the waste materials in the pond. If oxygen is not being introduced, the decomposition becomes anaerobic, resulting in unpleasant odors and, yes, algae bloom.

Having looked at all these facts, it would appear that a good alternative would be an artificial aeration system. Since this is a little out of the realm of our expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in native plants of North America, we would recommend you follow this up with more research of your own, determining what is economically practical and most efficient.



More Problem Plants Questions

Identity of yellow-flowered plant with stickers
November 06, 2012 - I have yellow flowered plant taking over my lawn. I used weed killers last year and it has spread this year and still spreading. It has small burs (not as hard as a regular sticker bur but will stic...
view the full question and answer

Protection from native invasive trumpet vines
April 17, 2008 - Mr. SP: I have invaders! Trumpet vines from a neighbor's yard, two doors away have taken over and are eating my garage and trying to steal all the sun from my clematis vines. How do I get rid of...
view the full question and answer

Should a tree near a water well be transplanted?
July 31, 2013 - I have a water well and have about a 6 yr live oak planted in close proximity to it( about 10 feet). Would it be wise enough to transplant the tree while its this young or leave it alone. Also I need ...
view the full question and answer

Removal of Ashe juniper trees
April 19, 2015 - I have 15 acres with scattered huge oak and elm trees with tens of thousands of Ashe Juniper (cedar) trees 2” to 10” in diameter growing within the drip zone of the hardwoods. How do I take out the c...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating and replacing Tradescantia species
July 03, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I need advice. I recently figured out my 10 month old dog is highly allergic to Tradescantia sp, commonly known as the Spiderworts, and "Wandering Jew" which covers about h...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center