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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - March 31, 2005

From: KERMAN, CA
Region: California
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Duck-resistant plants for pond in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I want to plant around a water pond and I need some plants that my ducks will not destroy. Please help.

ANSWER:

First of all, ducks like young plants in particular; so, if you can protect plants until they have matured a bit it is more likely that the ducks will leave them alone. Also, ample supplies of sedges and grasses could divert the ducks from more decorative plants. You can find a very good report, "Plants for Ponds and Pens", in PDF format to download from "Leaflets and Articles" on the British Waterfowl Association page that gives suggestions for establishing plants in duck enclosures.

For suggestions for different plants (trees, shrubs, grasses, ferns, wildflowers, etc.) that are native to California, you can download a PDF file, "Recommended Native Plant Species List", for California from the Native Plant Information Network Regional Factpacks page. Here are a few suggestions from that list that have the potential of being duck-proof once they are established: Different nerve sedge (Carex heteroneura), Bird-foot fern (Pellaea mucronata), Western iris (Iris douglasiana), and Scarlet columbine (Aquilegia formosa). There are many more plants for you to explore on the recommended list.

For any plant you choose, you should determine whether or not it would be toxic for your ducks. You can check this out on the Plants Toxic to Animals database from the Veterinary Medicine Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
 

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