En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Plants for soil with basalt outcroppings in Idaho

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
2 ratings

Sunday - March 30, 2008

From: Twin Falls, Idaho, ID
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Soils, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Plants for soil with basalt outcroppings in Idaho
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have basalt (lava) outcropping in part of our back yard and know we'll have to search for pockets of soil in which to plant. Any suggestions about what trees or shrubs would have a chance in these challenging conditions?

ANSWER:

We found this a fascinating question, and went hunting for more information on basalt. This Columbia River Flood Basalt Province website has maps detailing the presence on the basalt in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Since Twin Falls County is in the southwestern portion of Idaho, it would seem that we have found the source of the basalt in your soil. The main thing we would advise about plants that can grow in that environment is that you observe plants that are already growing in it. Obviously, you're not the only ones with lava in your garden. Plants that have survived over the millenia have done so by adapting, pushing roots into cracks in solid rock, pulling nutrients out of clay or sand or whatever was available to them. So, we went to our Recommended Species for Idaho webpage, which gave us 111 plants native to Idaho from which to choose. We then clicked on "Narrow Your Search" and checked Idaho as the state, Habit (herb, shrub, tree), duration-perennial, sun exposure-6 hours or more a day and soil moisture dry. From each of those we selected four examples that should do well in your location. You can follow the same procedure and find others that suit you better. Just click on the link of the plant name and it will take you to a webpage with descriptions of the plant and the conditions in which it does best.

Herbs (flowering plants)

Sphaeralcea munroana (Munro's globemallow) Here is a page of images of this globemallow.

Gaillardia aristata (common gaillardia)

Phlox longifolia (longleaf phlox)

Anaphalis margaritacea (western pearly everlasting)

Shrubs

Amelanchier alnifolia (Saskatoon serviceberry)

Artemisia tridentata (big sagebrush)

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Cercocarpus montanus (alderleaf mountain mahogany)

Trees

Juniperus scopulorum (Rocky Mountain juniper)

Pinus flexilis (limber pine)

Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)

Prunus virginiana (chokecherry)


Gaillardia aristata

Phlox longifolia

Anaphalis margaritacea

Amelanchier alnifolia

Artemisia tridentata

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Cercocarpus montanus

Juniperus scopulorum

Pinus flexilis

Populus tremuloides

Prunus virginiana

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Privacy screening from Phoenix AZ
April 14, 2013 - I live in the center of Phoenix, Az. On the eastern side of my house we have some 2 story condos next door. The width of the side yard is about 12'-15' and it gets lots of shade. I also have my powe...
view the full question and answer

Mexican Plum not doing well in Liberty Hill, TX.
September 03, 2010 - Two summers have passed since I planted my Mexican Plum. It's in full sun. It seems to have added height but not much width. It's virtually a 7 foot stick with 1 foot branches from top to bottom. It...
view the full question and answer

Plants for under non-native fruitless mullberry trees from Ft. Worth TX
June 28, 2012 - I live in Tarrant county, where summer droughts are the norm. I have a 150x50 foot swathe of mature "fruitless mulberry" trees, which create a very shady atmosphere. The soil is clay dominated, ro...
view the full question and answer

Viability of Desert Willow and Hong Kong Orchid Tree in Spring Branch, TX
December 26, 2006 - We live in Spring Branch, Rt 281 north of San Antonio. We want to plant a Regal Desert Willow tree and a Hong Kong Orchid tree. Will the cold / freeze be a problem? Where locally can we purchase th...
view the full question and answer

Fragrant tree found in Savannah
May 12, 2009 - I was in Savannah last weekend and as we were walking through one of the side streets we were hit with the fragrance of Lilac. I grew up around Lilac bushes but never expected a full in bloom single ...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center