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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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Tuesday - March 30, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: Need help replacing a non-functioning pond in Houston, TX.
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I have a non-functioning, shell-shaped, concrete pond in a shaded part of my backyard that has been a great place to grow mosquitoes since I got this place. I have decided that it is time for a change of scenery as well as wildlife, and would appreciate some suggestions as to what to plant that can survive this hot, humid climate combined with a fair amount of shade and no drainage--AND possibly attract some butterflies or hummingbirds. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, and I thank you for your time and consideration.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants finds this to be a challenging question because it raises several questions for him.

e.g: What makes the pond "non functioning"? Maybe you could contact the folks in the Houston Pond Society to help you get it functioning again. This might be the most practical solution, in the end.

Are you planning on just filling it with soil and planting plants in the space?  Your comment about "no drainage" seems to indicate that you realize that this is not a good idea.  You will end up with a soupy mess of dead plants that is a bredding ground for mosquitoes and other "undesireables".

Aside from its shape and composition, you don't tell us anything else about the pond, e.g. depth, size (area), surrounding vegetation/setting.  If you really think you would like to put plants "in" it you will have to drill drain holes in it.  Depending on how thick-walled it is, you may be able to do it yourself with a rental tool and concrete drill bits.  Once you have achieved that and filled it with soil you will have to observe how wet the conditions are and choose appropriate plants.  The conditions of the "garden" will become alkaline over time due to the concrete "planter".

I would imagine that you will always have pretty wet conditions so you should start the plant selection process by visiting our Native Plant database. Choose the "Recommended Species" function for East Texas and then Narrow Your Search choosing wet conditions and then light according to your site and the type of plants (shrubs, perennials) you are interested in.  The plant names in the list are links to detailed information pages that will tell you which plants are attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.

On that same page you will find "Special Collections".  Many plants on the list "Hummingbird Plants for Central Texas" will be appropriate for Houston as well.

Good luck with your project ... I still think it might be easier to get the pond going again!

 

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