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

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

Pecan tree transplant in Elgin, TX
August 26, 2008 - Hello, Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about how to encourage a very young pecan sapling to grow, and whether I should use mulch to do so. I live in Elgin (Bastrop County) and the soil is extr...
view the full question and answer

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

Yellow leaves on non-native pittisporum in Wharton TX
March 17, 2009 - Green pittisporum that I planted 2 years ago and 1 year ago are getting a lot of yellow leaves. Variegated pittisporum that I planted at the same 2 times are doing fine.
view the full question and answer

Moving a volunteer holly from Springfield IL
October 11, 2010 - When would be the very best time to move a volunteer holly? I would say it is 3 years old, it stands about 5 feet tall, shaped like a very nice tree and it keeps its leaves. Thank you. Karen
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves on yaupon in Ft. Worth
April 23, 2009 - I planted a Pride of Houston Yaupon Holly in January in full sun. It is blooming little white flowers right now for spring, but a lot of leaves are turning yellow. Do you know what is causing this? ...
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