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?

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
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

Sunday - September 30, 2012

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany, Container Gardens, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Smog-eating plants from Ft. Worth TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Looking for a list (40 >) of Native Texas Plants for Fort Worth Urban (Condo) that are Drought tolerant or (drip irr) and Fragrant and long blooming and eat up the city smog. Fort Worth is in a non-attainment area.

ANSWER:

We are embarrassed to admit this, but there is no list of smog-eating plants for Tarrant County. That is likely because there is no such thing. Plus, we couldn't even find a category for answering this question, because we are gardeners, not scientists. But we are great proponents of all plants being pollution reducers, through photosynthesis.

From a previous Mr. Smarty Question on photosynthesis:

"All vascular plants have a process called photosynthesis, by which the energy of sunlight is used to manufacture food for the plants. From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer: "When sunlight strikes a leaf, a process called photosynthesis is put into play, the plant converts the energy from the sun, combines it with water and nutrients in the plant, and metabolizes it into food to support the plant, form new structures within the plant, and store food in the roots. Along the way, it releases oxygen, which is a good thing for the human race. The plant uses carbon dioxide, not good for breathing in the process, and releases much needed oxygen as a waste product!" How cool is that? From sunlight and photosynthesis the whole food chain of Nature is begun. Along the way, carbon is sequestered in the soil by the same process. This happens in native plants, alien plants and invasive plants. It's hard to call a plant useless. It may be irritating, poisonous, ugly, intrusive, but it is still feeding all the lifeforms on Earth and providing oxygen."

Having lived in Los Angeles in the mid-1950's, when people still had backyard incinerators to burn their household trash, we can tell you we know what smog is. From the second car in a lineup at a traffic light, we could not tell if the light was red or green. If there was a forest fire on Mt. Hollywood, where Griffith Park and the Observatory were located, we couldn't hang out clothes on the line because they would be ruined by smog mixed with soot. Now THAT is smog!

Since we don't seem to be able to help you with smog-specific plants, here are some articles we found, including a forum on smog in different cities, that might help you understand the problem.

City-Data.com Smog?

From the Environmentall Protection Agency: Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture and Forestry.

Now, here is what we can do. It appears you need container plants for your condo. First,  read our How-To Article on Container Gardening with Native Plants. We would suggest succulents for your garden, which we assume will have some sun and some shade. You can better control the soil in container gardens; look for potting soil for cactus and succulents. It drains better, and for all desert plants (which these mostly are) good drainage is absolutely essential. We will search on our Native Plant Database for succulents appropriate to this use. In this case, where the succulents are not apt to spread or become invasive, you can also purchase small attractive succulents in commercial nurseries and home improvement stores. Just like trees, they will work on making oxygen and sequestering carbon. It may not seem like much, but you are doing your part to control pollution. Some of these will require require larger pots or can be planted in a flower bed, if you have a place for gardening besides a porch. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to find out its ultimate size, growing conditions and amount of sunlight needed

Succulents for Tarrant County TX:

Agave lechuguilla (Lechuguilla)

Agave parryi ssp. neomexicana (Parry's agave)

Ariocarpus fissuratus (Chautle livingrock)

Echinocereus enneacanthus (Pitaya)

Hechtia glomerata (Guapilla)

Hesperaloe parviflora (Red yucca)

Manfreda maculosa (False aloe)

Manfreda sileri (Siler's tuberose)

Yucca treculeana (Don quixote's lace)

 

From the Image Gallery


Lechuguilla
Agave lechuguilla

Parry's agave
Agave parryi ssp. neomexicana

Chautle livingrock
Ariocarpus fissuratus

Pitaya
Echinocereus enneacanthus

Guapilla
Hechtia glomerata

Red yucca
Hesperaloe parviflora

False aloe
Manfreda maculosa

Siler's tuberose
Manfreda sileri

Spanish dagger
Yucca treculeana

More Container Gardens Questions

Do plants grow faster in natural or artificial light?
March 13, 2009 - Do you think plants will grow faster in natural light or artificial light or a combination of both? And why do you think that. and need your answer for my biology project please and thank you for your...
view the full question and answer

Hot Sunny Planter Suggestions for Florida
March 05, 2013 - We have a large, raised, concrete planter (about 15' L x 2' W) separating us from our condo neighbor in Clearwater, FL. We would like suggestions for shrubs that tolerate full sun and hot conditions...
view the full question and answer

Want to Grow Herbs in Pots on Balcony
November 26, 2011 - Nov. 20, 2011 I live in a large apartment with a front balcony. I was wondering what would grow well in pots and fresh herb this time of the year? And will lavendar work for a hanging plant as well...
view the full question and answer

Container gardening for pool in southern California
October 08, 2008 - I have large planters around pool would like to know what plants to use that will not grow to high or to big and will not have large roots home located in camarillo ca.
view the full question and answer

A 3-6 ft. high overwintering container plant
November 08, 2011 - I live in Austin, Tx. and am looking for a plant/shrub that I can keep in a ceramic pot through out the winter. It can grow to from 3 feet to six feel.
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center