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

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

Using bamboo as a filter for odoras from a wastewater treatmen plant in College Station, TX
November 16, 2014 - My wastewater treatment plant is considering planting bamboo to create a filter for odors between it and the neighborhood. Are there any native plant alternatives that would function as well (if not b...
view the full question and answer

Bald cypress knees in leachfield from Ventura CA
March 20, 2013 - Hey, I planted a seedling 20+ years ago which has turned out to be a 40'bald cypress that's now 40'. I'm a native southerner and would hate to cut it down but it's putting up knees in my septic s...
view the full question and answer

Non-native smoketree for California City, CA
June 28, 2010 - I was wondering if you could tell me if it would be a good or bad idea to plant a Smoke Tree (most likely European) in the vicinity of a septic tank. We are looking for something which will provide a...
view the full question and answer

Native flowers for Door County, Wisconsin
September 02, 2009 - We recently were required to put in a new septic system on our vacation property in Door County, WI. This left us with a clearing on our wooded lot where the septic field is now located. The installer...
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

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