Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

Wednesday - April 02, 2008

From: St. Paul , MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Soils
Title: Possibility of growing plants in St. Peter Sandstone
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can you grow plants or native plants in St. Peter Sandstone or amend it?

ANSWER:

Well, if we grow any plants in any kind of soil, you can bet they will be native plants. That's what we do at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center-care for, promote and propagate plants native to North America. Being mostly gardeners, and Texas gardeners at that, the first thing we had to do was figure out what St. Peter's sandstone is. We discovered that St. Peter sandstone originated as a sheet of sand in clear, shallow water near the shore of a Paleozoic sea and consists of fine to medium size, well rounded quartz grains with frosted surfaces. The extent of the formation spans north-south from Minnesota to Missouri and east-west from Illinois into Nebraska and South Dakota. In commercial applications, it is called Ottawa sand and is used for the manufacture of glass, for filter and molding sand and for abrasives.

So, we went searching for possible botanical uses for this sandstone, or just sand, if you will. We found many, many references written by geologists, but not one single botanical reference. From a practical standpoint, sand is difficult to grow anything in anyway; it is made of very large particles which don't cling together, and therefore, if you put a plant in it, fertilize the plant, and then water it, all the water (and the nutrients) are going to shoot right through and go off somewhere else. Sometimes, gardeners seek to add sand to clay soils to amend them by making them looser, but it's not recommended, because it's difficult to get the correct balance. And, we really can't imagine trying to grow anything in a soil that is used for glassmaking. If the dirt you have in your garden is predominantly composed of this sand, we would suggest raised beds with compost and topsoil, on top of the sand, not mixed with it.

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

What to do with a sickly American elm in Austin, Texas
September 27, 2010 - I have an American elm that is about 6 feet tall in my yard. It is has not grown quickly this year--as compared to another American Elm that I have in another spot that is about 3 feet tall and has m...
view the full question and answer

Non-native, invasive bermudagrass from Memphis TN
August 17, 2012 - I live in central Memphis and have well-drained clay soil. I have converted much of the front yard from turf grass to beds of native plants, which survive our hot humid without supplemental watering e...
view the full question and answer

Fungus Spots on Native Bush Honeysuckle
December 03, 2010 - My native bush honeysuckle plants that I have along my back fence have leaves that are turning yellow with spots. It appears to be a type of fungus, but not powdery mildew. Any suggestions as to what ...
view the full question and answer

It's so hot, even the Salvia greggii are sad, in Bulverde Texas
July 28, 2011 - I have several Salvia greggii in large terra cotta pots. The leaves have developed a yellowish tint and are thinning. What is the best process to get them back to full green foilage?
view the full question and answer

My newly planted Mountain Laurel isn\'t doing well.
March 13, 2009 - My mountain laurel was planted from a container in Dec. It is in part sun, clay soil, and its leaves are turning yellow. should I move it or will that kill it?
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.