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

Monday - November 07, 2011

From: Belton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Watering, Grasses or Grass-like, Trees
Title: Is sulfurous well water affecting leaves on trees in Belton TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We installed an irrigation system for our buffalo grass lawn last spring. The grass is fine but the leaves on the trees are burned where the water hits them. I suspect that the well we are using for irrigation, which is sulfurous, may be the cause of this. The water test showed ph of 8.1 and sulfate 80 mg/L (testing limit). It doesn't seem to bother the live oaks but the elms and other trees' leaves look burned. Higher up the tree where the water doesn't spray, the leaves are fine. What to do? We thought our plants would love the extra minerals. We water in very early morning, so I know it's not leaf burn from water droplets.

ANSWER:

Just when we think we have heard everything, a question like this comes along. So, we had to do some research. The best article we found on this was from eHow Health on The Effect of High Sulfure Content in Tap Water, from which we extracted this:

"If you turn on the water in your home and it smells like rotten eggs, it is a safe bet that you have a high sulfur count in your water. Sulfur is a mineral that exists naturally in groundwater, since rain and surface water seeps through rocks in the earth and picks up minerals present in the rocks. It is one of the minerals that is measured during a water quality test."

If you are also using that water for drinking, you might want to read the whole article for information about how it can affect health, especially of young children, as well as plumbing and water heaters, not to mention the smell. However, we could find no mention that it affected plants adversely in any way.

So, we have two suggestions. First, the reason for planting Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) is that it does not need a whole lot of watering. Just don't use any more than you need to in order to keep the grass going. Second, if possible, reset the sprinkler system so it sprays lower. Water thrown up in the air is partially wasted by evaporation into the air, anyway, and if it looks like the water is hurting the leaves, don't hit them with irrigation water any more.


 

More Trees Questions

Evergreens for a deer corridor in MI
April 16, 2012 - I am growing three rows of evergreens for a wildlife, deer travel corridor, and am looking for which trees grow well together and are shade tolerant of each other when planted at the same time, or at ...
view the full question and answer

Care of Live Oaks
July 11, 2012 - We have Two Young Live Oaks in the front of Our home. We had them treated for insects, ect. Now what can we do to make them Full Green and Happy Happy Happy again.Thank You
view the full question and answer

Grafting different colors of Tecoma from Casa Grand AZ
April 01, 2014 - Is it possible to graft different colors of tecoma and if yes, is the process same as process for grafting roses?
view the full question and answer

Native Tree for Narrow Space in PA
October 04, 2015 - I have a narrow space along my cedar fence in full sun. A Japanese maple approximately 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide is failing there due to winter rodent damage to its base. I would like to replace i...
view the full question and answer

Planting Anacacho orchid tree in Llano, TX
October 05, 2011 - Re Bauhinia lunarioides: I'm trying to pick a good site in Llano Co for a 5 gal tree I received as a gift. Your plant database says part shade. The arid zone trees publication you reference in a...
view the full question and answer

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