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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.

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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.

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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!

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Saturday - February 19, 2005

From: Canyon Lake, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: BEST plants for keeping water clean
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We're in the process of building a small swimming pool that will utilize Texas native bog and marginal plants to clean the water for the pool. Do you know of some good resources (i.e. online, books, businesses, etc.) to consult and/purchase plants? Also what are the BEST plants for keeping water clean?

ANSWER:

An article on natural swimming pools by Mother Earth News has a wealth of information on the subject--including building, maintaining, and selecting appropriate plants for your pool. You can also find information about water gardening on the Wildflower Center web page by selecting Explore Plants from the side bar, next select Clearinghouse Publications, then Native Plant Library. You will find a 2 page PDF file titled "Water Gardening" that you can download.

The Austin Pond Society web page has links to regional water gardening nurseries where you might find the following recommended native plants: pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata); one of the Texas arrowheads, such as duck-potato (Sagittaria latifolia); one of the Texas horsetails, such as field horsetail (Equisetum arvense); water lilies, such as American water lily (Nympaea odorata) or the yellow water lotus (Nelumbo lutea). Other possibilities are moisture-loving grasses such as bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus) and larger plants such as marshmallow hibiscus.

You can find a list of other native plants for Texas that are aquatic or marsh plants, both large and small, by choosing Explore Plants on the side bar, then Native Plants Database. On that page choose Combination Search and select "Wet" for Soil Moisture and select "Texas" under Select State.

Another web page that may be useful for your project is that of Texas Ponds and Water Gardens.
 

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