En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Plants adding calcium to soil

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
1 rating

Thursday - June 08, 2006

From: Minneapolis, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: General Botany, Soils
Title: Plants adding calcium to soil
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

Hi, I am looking for a resource to help determine the functions of native plants. For instance, nitrogen fixing can be found in Indigo, Lead plant, lupines. Are there other plants that add back calcium? Also, I'm looking for a resource that states planting guidelines for the native plants for home scale landscaping. I've cleared my front slope and planted natives 2 years ago, but wanting to add more density without encroaching on existing root structures etc. Thanks so much for your time!

ANSWER:

As far as we know, there are no plants that fix calcium in the way that leguminous plants fix nitrogen. Calcium isn't as important to plants as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, so no mechanisms have evolved that enable plants to insure its presence in the soil.

If what you're wanting to do is alter an acidic (low pH) soil to make it more calcareous (higher in calcium carbonate) in order to plant species that require a higher pH, our recommendation would be to instead use locally native plants that prefer the region's acidic soils. If the natural calcium carbonate that your soil originally had has been stripped out for some reason, supplementing your soil with lime or applying a top dressing of compost with ground eggshell added can help. Compost from the fallen leaves of locally native plants can also work to restore a regionally appropriate pH balance to your soil.

For plant recommendations, since I don't know what natives you've planted and what the size of your lot is, I'm going to refer you to our regional factpack for the Midwest, the Minnesota Native Plant Society, and the Twin Cities chapter of the Wild Ones for help. The latter two organizations have extensive experience working with native plants and very helpful resources on their websites. They may also be able to help answer questions about your soil.

 

More General Botany Questions

What to do about grass dying under pin oaks in Iowa
December 10, 2008 - We have 2 pin oaks about 15 years old in our front yard. The grass has started dying out under and around them. What can we do?
view the full question and answer

Project on natives in Connecticut from Chino CA
April 13, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, My 10 yr. old daughter is doing a project on Ct., and would like to know what the most common plants, trees and flowers are found in this state. A few of each would be a great ...
view the full question and answer

Herbarium locations for Bifora americana
May 12, 2007 - Dr Hampton: I am trying to find specific locations of populations of Bifora americana (prairie bishop). Apparently, many collections of this species have been made in the Dallas-Ft Worth area as we...
view the full question and answer

Can plants in the same genus cross-pollinate?
March 27, 2009 - Can you cross-pollinate plants from the same genus?
view the full question and answer

Difference between Styrax platanifolius and Styrax patanifolius ssp. texanus
November 18, 2011 - What is the difference between a Styrax platanifolius and a Styrax platanifolius texanus?
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center