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

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Saturday - October 03, 2009

From: Lakeland, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Dirt around bald cypress in Lakeland FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dirt around trunk of cypress.. Our tree is a Bald Cypress. We dug a hole to install a jacuzzi and put the dirt/clay around the trunk of the cypress to level the area out. I also laid several flag stones around it to make it a patio area. I have now removed all the stones and all the dirt. Is there anything else I can do? Help.

ANSWER:

That fact that your tree is a bald cypress makes it possible that the tree will survive. Because the bald cypress often grows in swamp areas with water over portions of the tree, it is less susceptible to suffocation. Beyond that, we have no idea. The tree is deciduous, the only cypress that is (thus, the word "bald" in its common name) so it should now go into a semi-dormant stage and hopefully begin to recover. We're just gardeners and volunteers, not plant pathologists, and this was the first time we had been asked a question about putting 3 feet of the trunk of a tree under soil. The message here is that plants should be allowed to grow where they are native, and in conditions that are normal for them. They have evolved over millions of years to that environment and those conditions, and cannot change overnight to adjust to changed conditions. But plants also are programmed to survive, so hopefully your bald cypress will recover and go on for many more years.

 

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