En Español

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
2 ratings

Tuesday - May 10, 2011

From: Burnet, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Low water use tree to shade pond in Burnet TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm in need of some shade at a 1/2 acre pond, but I don't want a tree to consume so much water that it will lower the water level. During droughts the little pond needs all the water it can get. Someone said that bald cypress trees would use alot of water and lower the level. What are your thoughts?

ANSWER:

The first thing we did was look at our webpage on Taxodium distichum (Bald cypress) to see what it said. You can follow the link and do the same. On that page, it was noted that the tree has medium water demands, can grow in sun or part shade, and likes moist soil but can adapt to semi-dry conditions. Apparently one of the advantages of this tree is that it can survive and even flourish in an area which has periodic flooding and then dry spells.

Having found out what benefits the tree, we still could not get any concrete information on how the tree affected neighboring water features, so we next went to the Internet to see if we might find some indications on that subject. From a USDA Forest Service article on the Bald Cypress, we picked up on this quotation:

"Riverine swamps of baldcypress cause floodwaters to spread out, slow down, and infiltrate the soil. Thus, these stands reduce damage from floods and act as sediment and pollutant traps."

You should read this whole article and see if it gives you any indicators that we missed. Our take on the quotation was that it would be beneficial to have this tree in an area that can get periodically flooded and then lose a great deal of water as it washes away, which would seem to justify the tree as a water retention tool.

By going to the bottom of our webpage on this tree, you can find a link to Google on it; we did this and found several other articles about the tree, all recommending it as a very good tree, but slow-growing, that could get very large and very old. Nowhere did we find any indication that it would slurp the water away from the pond. Of course, it needs water, all plants do, but if it is growing in its natural habitat, then it is adapted to that habitat, and probably won't harm it. We do want to remind you that this is not a good time to be planting trees in Central Texas. Late Fall or Winter would be much better. A tree planted now, in the heat and drought we are experiencing, could very well be a victim of transplant shock, and either die or have its growth severely inhibited.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Taxodium distichum


Taxodium distichum


Taxodium distichum


Taxodium distichum

 

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Plants for shade, poor soil in Park Ridge NJ
June 17, 2010 - Hello! I live in far northeast New Jersey, by the New York state border. I am looking for plants for areas of my lawn that nothing currently grows in - due to shade and poor soil quality - very rocky,...
view the full question and answer

Native moss to fill in between flagstones
April 21, 2008 - I live in Houston and have a long, narrow flagstone path that runs along the east side of the house. I am looking for a native moss that can fill in between the flagstones and will tolerate morning su...
view the full question and answer

Wax myrtle in partial shade in Dothan AL
March 13, 2009 - Will the Wax Myrtle do well in the 36303 area code in partial shade?
view the full question and answer

Shade, Heat, Drought and Acidic Soil Tolerant Perennials for Las Vegas?
November 28, 2015 - What can I grow under my pine trees that is shade and heat (and acidity) tolerant? I live in Las Vegas, NV and would like perennials to plant under my pine trees.
view the full question and answer

Wax myrtle or cherry laurel in Austin?
November 15, 2009 - For a very shady area under a large old oak tree with oak toxic soil, would a Wax Myrtle or a Cherry Laurel (caroliniana) be better? Looking for an evergreen screening tree up to 20ft, but it only get...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center