Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - April 30, 2009

From: Silver Spring, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Positioning a bald cypress among cattails in Silver Spring MD
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a rain garden, half of which is fairly overrun with broad- and narrow-leaf cattails. We've learned to be aggressive in thinning these out 2 to 3 times during the growing season. We also have a potted 4 foot Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) ready to drop into the ground. If we put the cypress in the wettest (and sunniest) part of the rain garden, it would be right in the middle of those cattails. Is it likely that the cattails would choke the cypress out, or could the cypress hold its own given that the cypress roots deeper into the ground than the cattails?

ANSWER:

If we had to make a choice between the two, it would be Taxodium distichum (bald cypress), hands down. It is a great tree, interesting year-round, even when it drops its needles, adaptable to wet or semi-dry conditions. The bald cypress can take sun or part shade, with the "knees" appearing in areas of poor drainage, which is okay with the tree. Typha domingensis (southern cattail) and Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail) are both native to Maryland. As you obviously already know, cattails can be very invasive and take over a wetland. So, why put them into direct competition? We would certainly recommend that you continue to control the cattails, and try to keep them from spreading any more. But the bald cypress does not have to go in the same place. It can do well in part shade, that is, 2 to 6 hours of sun a day, and does not have to have its feet in the water. Give it all the sun you can, and make sure it is well watered, especially the first year it is in the ground. Beyond that, we think it can hold its own very well. But watch those cattails!


Taxodium distichum

Taxodium distichum

Typha domingensis

Typha latifolia

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Suckers from Oak Tree Roots in Austin
May 17, 2013 - Hi. I am a home owner in Austin TX with several live oak trees. We love them and want to keep them healthy. We have a nice landscape in the back yard and Iím wondering if you can answer a quest...
view the full question and answer

Need a tree to grow in the middle of a retention pond in Pennsylvania
June 03, 2010 - I have a shallow retention pond in my yard in South Eastern Pennsylvania. The pond is used for rainwater runoff and also for natural springs that are located below the surface. If I plant a tree in th...
view the full question and answer

What clips green twigs from cedar elms?
August 09, 2013 - Many small cuttings (3-5 inches long) are dropping from large cedar elm. To my eye the ends look like breaks (not chiseled), but I can't imagine what would cause so many breaks, and so think somethin...
view the full question and answer

Native tree for cemetery in Western Oklahoma
May 06, 2009 - My siblings and I are wanting to plant a tree next to my Mother's grave at the cemetery. It is in Western Oklahoma so hot sun and constant high wind are both considerations to choosing the right tree...
view the full question and answer

Pruning for native oak in Houston
October 06, 2008 - I have an oak tree, and I was wondering if I prune from the top down, would it get fuller at the bottom? Or can you tell me how to prune it? I have been pruning from the bottom up and it is growing ta...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.