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?


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

Monday - January 24, 2011

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Diseases and Disorders, Soils
Title: Plants to grow in high zinc, lead and copper soil in Los Angeles
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We live on the Westside of Los Angeles and have just been given the bad news that our beds are high in zinc (86.39), lead (45.98) and copper(12.95). Can you recommend some plants that may grow in these conditions. Thank you!


Since we are not soil chemists, we are unfamiliar with the numbers you gave us, so we did a little research and found three websites you could look at, compare your figures (if they are measured the same way) with the figures in these papers:

Fact Sheet: Zinc in Soil

Lead in Garden Soils

Environmental Effects of Copper

Again, this is pretty far out of our field, and we don't know how your numbers compare with the "safe" numbers quoted in these articles, nor do we have any lists of plants that can survive in those soils. We are curious, if those numbers are abnormally high, to know how the metals entered your garden soil. However, we would suggest that, at least for your flower beds, you replace that soil, or amend it with compost and other organic matter, which will dilute the effects of the metals. Without knowing your sun exposure, soil moisture or space requirements, there is no way we could recommend specific plants.

We are assuming that if your garden has that problem, others in your area share it. Your best source for on-the-spot information of this sort is the University of California at Davis Cooperative Extension Office for Los Angeles County.




More Diseases and Disorders Questions

What's causing holes in trunk of white oak tree in SouthBend IN?
June 10, 2013 - We have a huge White Oak in our backyard that is approx. 130 years old. This evening I became aware that there are several small holes around the trunk that appear to be oozing a dark sappy liquid. ...
view the full question and answer

Loss of leaves on yaupon in Austin
August 05, 2008 - Last winter I planted a Pride of Houston yaupon. Currently, the leaves at the tips of its stems are green and healthy, but the leaves along the stems are turning dark brown and falling off. Does...
view the full question and answer

How do I save my recently transplanted yaupon holly?
April 20, 2011 - Recently transplanted (two weeks ago) a yaupon holly tree from one part of the yard to another. Leaves are beginning to turn yellow and fall. What can be done to save this plant?
view the full question and answer

Fungal root rot in non-native Shasta daisies in Channahon IL
July 21, 2009 - HELP! My Shasta daisies have fungal root rot. Is there any way to save them? I've been removing the browned stems. I'm so sad.
view the full question and answer

Bark problems with Monterrey oak from Austin
September 15, 2012 - I planted a 65 gallon Monterrey Oak (White Oak) in my front yard in February of this year. I water it once a week. All of the leaves and branches appear very healthy and there is no discoloration....
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center