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

Wednesday - May 05, 2010

From: Westminster, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Septic Systems
Title: Should non-native invasive Wisteria be planted near well and septic system?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I was told not to plant my Wisteria vine near my septic or well because the root will get into it and cause me many problems. Is this true?

ANSWER:

We are really hoping you are not using the past tense, as in "I already planted it there, now what do I do?" And we are assuming you are talkng about the non-native plant, either Wisteria sinensis (Chinese Wisteria) or Wisteria Floribunda (Japanese Wisteria). Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria) is a native version, not quite as aggressive as the non-natives, but still a woody plant. It is native to Maryland; Carroll Co. is in USDA Hardiness Zones 6a to 7a and American Wisteria is hardy in Zones 6 to 9. From this Ohio State University website Growing Wisteria, we extracted this information to indicate which plant you probably have in your garden:

"Two species of wisteria are typically grown in home gardens: Wisteria sinensis or Chinese wisteria, and Wisteria floribunda or Japanese wisteria."

The first problem for us is that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the use, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. The second problem, and this has to do with your septic lines and well, is that they are vigorously growing, woody plants. You don't want any woody plants close to your lateral lines, as in trees and shrubs. They are the ones that send roots out far beyond their driplines, sneaking up on you. But you don't want to leave that area completely bare, because you know it wouldn't stay bare, it would get weedy and unless it was mowed, some of those "weeds" would grow up to be woody plants. We don't know how your lateral lines or well are situated, but you do need to be aware of them when planting in that area. As large and aggressive as wisterias are above the ground, you can bet their roots are equally or even more so. 

If you haven't already planted anything there, our recommendation is to not use woody plants, but native grasses, even wildflowers. The long fibrous roots of grasses and herbaceous flowering plants will help hold the soil, but will not interfere with the underground construction. If you have already planted the wisteria, our recommendation is: LOOK OUT!

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Wisteria frutescens

Wisteria frutescens

Wisteria frutescens

Wisteria frutescens

 

 

 

More Septic Systems Questions

Grass for septic drainfield in Georgetown TX
February 10, 2009 - We recently had a new septic drainfield installed. It is raised approximately 2-3 ft above ground level. I would like to plant it with a native grass/grasses that would attract wildlife yet still be a...
view the full question and answer

Tree roots vs. leach field in Heber Springs AR
February 03, 2010 - We need shade in front of our west facing house; however, our septic system and leach field are there also. What kind of fast growing trees can we plant that won't ruin our septic system?
view the full question and answer

Native plants for septic field
April 10, 2008 - We have a new Septic tank and field and I want to plant native seeds on the field instead of grass. Are there particular packages of seed that I can purchase or what else would you recommend?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Septic Field in NC
August 14, 2013 - What kinds of low water plants can I plant over a new septic field in North Carolina? The area is part sun so I am concerned about having trouble getting grass started.
view the full question and answer

Plants for a septic system in Poland IN
September 22, 2009 - Hi, we have a septic system under a large front yard at a newly acquired lake cottage in southern Indiana. The yard is completely unlandscaped. I'm trying to find if there are are any safe trees I ...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center