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

Thursday - March 05, 2009

From: Marble Falls, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Poisonous Plants, Trees
Title: Can hackberry twigs and leaves be safely used in compost?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

If Hackberry trees and leaves have growth inhibiting compounds, should they not be used in compost piles?

ANSWER:

The point of emitting those growth-inhibiting compounds is to protect the area around the tree from competition. When the leaves have fallen or branches have been trimmed, they are dead, and no longer have the power to emit the substances, nor the reason to do so. There are some plants that have toxic parts, or the whole plant is toxic to some degree, such as Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel) and Taxus canadensis (Canada yew). Even dead and dried up, such plants should not go into compost, nor should Toxicodendron radicans (eastern poison ivy) because the residual oils are not destroyed by the composting process.  Many other plants, including oaks, black walnuts, and pecans have this same self-protective ability and, from personal experience, make very fine compost. This article, Compost Notes by Ken Roberts, will give you some more insight on what should and should not go into your compost pile.

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Native plants for a bioswale in Baltimore
July 22, 2009 - What native plants would suit a bioswale in an urban part of Baltimore City? The clay soil gets waterlogged and the site has part shade.
view the full question and answer

Death of Tecoma stans after heavy rain
July 21, 2008 - I had two esperanza plants. They have been planted for about four months, this spring. They were blooming and growing. We had six inches of rain in five days and they began to wilt - and then they d...
view the full question and answer

Oak leaf hydrangeas from Edwardsville IL
August 13, 2012 - Hello, I live in West Central Illinois (across the river from St. Louis) and I am considering planting several Oak leaf Hydrangea's in my yard. The location where I would like to plant them is und...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for Pflugerville, TX in blackland soil
March 21, 2008 - Mr. S-P, I'm perusing the plant sale list for a couple of tall shrubs to plant on the sunny southwest side of my house, in Blackland soil. It is generally dry there because of the sun, but can ge...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a Texas redbud sapling
July 27, 2008 - I've just discovered a Texas red bud sapling (baby tree)that decided to grow next to our fire pit. Although there's no reason for us to sit around the campfire in 100 degree weather, I would like to...
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