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

Soil mixes for green roofs
November 23, 2008 - We are trying to set up a green roof system on our own. What do you suggest for soil? It seems the soils are proprietary and unavailable to individuals.
view the full question and answer

Growing Loblolly Pines Outside Native Range
April 03, 2014 - I would like a stand of pines on my property but do not know if they will grow in my area. Do you know if the soil in Waelder, Texas will support pines?
view the full question and answer

Fruit in the compost bin
June 07, 2009 - I have a compost bin and I use the pulp from fruits and vegetables as one of the ingredients in my compost pile. We juice everyday so will all this pulp be too potent for new seedlings?
view the full question and answer

Growing bluebonnets in pot in Flower Mound TX
November 01, 2011 - We received a package of bluebonnet seeds along with the DVD Wildflowers: Seeds of History as a gift. In the film, Andrea DeLong mentions that bluebonnets did not grow well in a rich organic soil. W...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for poorly drained clay soil
March 24, 2008 - I am trying to establish a native plant garden in my back yard, I have two places where water stands for a few hours after a heavy rain, and the soil is black clay. Can you recommend any perennials 3...
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