En EspaŅol

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
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

Monday - March 24, 2008

From: McKinney, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Planting, Soils
Title: Native plants for poorly drained clay soil
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am trying to establish a native plant garden in my back yard, I have two places where water stands for a few hours after a heavy rain, and the soil is black clay. Can you recommend any perennials 3 feet tall or less that I could place here?

ANSWER:

First, let us refer you to a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on dealing with clay soils. Follow the links in it for suggestions on dealing with that and for perennials that will grow in it. The person that asked that question lives in North Carolina, but most if not all of the plants will also flourish here. You can follow the plant links and read the webpages about each plant.

Now, as to your question about perennials in standing water. The water remains after a rain because your soil IS clay, and/or because of the elevation of the plant. Frankly, no plant besides those that grow in swampy ground can stand having its roots under water for very long. Very simply, the plant will drown. And if you select plants for swamps, what is going to happen to those plants when our usual drought conditions come back and the soil is very dry? We advise you to give some attention to the soil before you start buying plants. Compost or some other organic material, worked into the soil, should help both to raise the level of the soil and to reduce compaction in the clay. You already know the areas where water stands-how about some raised beds of some sort? They don't need to be elaborate, just an area where the soil will drain more easily and has somewhere to drain to. This Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet on raised beds has some excellent suggestions.

 

More Planting Questions

Need plants for a garden pathway in Austin, TX.
February 28, 2015 - Hello! I am looking for a low-growing native plant or plants that I can use instead of grass; I have a section of the garden that gets full to part sun that will have a pathway of stones. I'd like ...
view the full question and answer

Pinus taeda (Loblolly pines) for a property in Van Zandt County, Texas
March 17, 2015 - I want to initiate a stand of loblolly pine trees on our property in Van Zandt County in NE Texas. Assuming the ph factor is within range, how do I obtain seedings for this endeavor? Any other advic...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for a small tree for cemetery in NH.
August 30, 2012 - I would like suggestions for picking a SMALL tree for a rural cemetery in Winchester, NEW HAMPSHIRE. Would the delicate Japanese Elm be suitable for the weather, etc?
view the full question and answer

Why isn't my recently planted Mexican Redbud growing in Georgetown, TX?
April 11, 2010 - I planted a container-grown Mexican Redbud in early March. As of April 5th, it is showing no signs of buds or leaves. Other redbuds in the area (possibly Texas redbuds) have been blooming for severa...
view the full question and answer

large tree suited for limestone site in Austin, TX
January 15, 2015 - I have a dying Chinaberry tree [35 ' tall; WNW corner of lot; at least 25 years old] that I am having removed. What native / adapted tree would you recommend to fill that void. I do understand that...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center