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

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 Soils Questions

Tolerance of rosa setigera of acidic soil from Cobden IL
October 20, 2012 - How tolerant is Rosa setigera of acid soil? I would like to plant it in my (very large) garden but the loess soil has a pH of 4.5. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of desert willow in Wimberley TX
August 10, 2010 - I have a desert willow. It is always, whether I water it or leave it alone, yellow/ brown leaves, dark spots on the leaves, losing leaves. now it looks sad and not very healthy. Can you please tell m...
view the full question and answer

Need help growing plants in red dirt in Mount Pleasant, NC.
September 17, 2011 - I live in N.C. and I have had the hardest time getting plants to grow;I have red dirt at my house. Can you suggest a few colorful plants that would do real well in red dirt? Thank You So Very Much!!!!...
view the full question and answer

User comments on soils from Austin
July 02, 2013 - You had a question this month about chlorosis in a Mexican plum in Bellaire. You correctly, in my opinion, answered that the problem was most likely overwatering. However, I just wanted to point out a...
view the full question and answer

Disagreement with HOA on raised beds placed beneath mature oak from Tequesta FL
April 05, 2014 - I have mature 30 year old oak trees on my property and I put a raised bed under each with very good soil and I used pavers for retaining the soil about about 1.5 ft high. I planted a perennial begonia...
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