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?

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - July 15, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils, Watering
Title: Should I acidify my well water for native plants
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Should I acidify my well water for irrigation of native plants? There is not enough rainwater collection.

ANSWER:

I don't know where your well is and what groundwater source it pulls from, but the readings for pH in the Barton Creek watershed groundwater for 2007 ranged from slightly acidic (6.63) to slightly alkaline (7.55). I suspect other groundwater sources in the Austin area have a similar range. You can check your watershed data yourself with the Water Quality Protection Database Query. To do so, select "Conventional/Nutrients" from the Parameter Types, your watershed, and choose a single year (e.g., 2007) to avoid having a huge file to download. It is true that the pH of rainwater may be slightly acidic because the raindrops pick up CO2 out of the atmosphere as they fall, but I can't think that it would be necessary to acidify your well water for your plants if they are Central Texas natives since they are well-adapted to our alkaline soils and water. If you are watering plants that aren't native to Central Texas but are, for instance, native to East Texas, such as Rhododendron canescens (mountain azalea) or Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea) that require acidic soils, your best solution is to grow them in containers (either above ground or buried in the ground) with added supplements (e.g., peat) to make the soil more acid. Central Texas natives don't need that. You could, however, mix your rainwater with your well water before you use it if you want to go to that trouble. This should make your well water slightly less alkaline.

If you don't already have a copy, you might like to download a copy of The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting

 

More Watering Questions

Mountain Laurel having trouble in AZ
June 07, 2011 - A Sophora secundflora (Texas mountain laurel) was planted to an Arizona north faced front yard last year in August under full sun. Starting early this year, I noticed its leaves turn to light green an...
view the full question and answer

Plants for science fair project using greywater
November 17, 2013 - What kind of plants should we use for our science fair project.We are doing our project on how greywater affects plant growth. We saw your answer on how it affects it but we don't know what type of ...
view the full question and answer

Restoring fire damage in Bastrop TX
November 03, 2011 - I live in the Bastrop State Park area. We were severely affected by the wildfire and as we are trying to rebuild our home, we are being very aware of the particularities of the recovery process. We lo...
view the full question and answer

Vine for full sun in Las Vegas NV
July 05, 2013 - Looking for vine to thrive in full sun in Las Vegas, NV. I tried Cape Honeysuckle and Star Jasmine and both died within 5 days. The leaves were burnt. What's your suggestion? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Wintering Purple Coneflowers in pots in Springfield MO
August 26, 2013 - I have some 8 month old purple cone flowers in containers on my porch. They did not bloom this summer because they were seedlings when given to me. I can not put them in the ground. How can I keep the...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center