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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - November 06, 2014

From: Van Alstyne, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Low Water Use Plants for a Pond Island
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

We have a medium sized pond/tank with a small island covered in black willows. The pond loses a lot of water and we were told it was partially due to the willows. We want to remove them and replace them with something that uses less water since the birds use them as cover - what would you suggest we replace them with? We were thinking a Bald Cypress but wasn't sure if it would be as big a water-hog as the willows.

ANSWER:

The problem with your island situation is that you are looking for a native plant that uses minimal water but also can tolerate very moist soils. This is a difficult situation for a plant. But the Taxodium do fit your requirements of low water users and being tolerant of the moist soils on the island.
The bald cypress (Taxodium disticum) and Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) are both low water  users even though they grow well along streams.  The Native and Adapted Landscape Plants Grow Green Guide from the City of Austin and the Texas AgriLife Extension indicates that bald cypress require deep, moist soil conditions and moisture. The foliage dries up in dry, hot locations. Use a Western seed source only. And for the Montezuma cypress they say that it is similar to Bald Cypress but faster growing and more adapted to dry, stressful conditions. Watch the hardiness of Montezuma cypress. Both these trees have small knees that project from submerged roots allowing them to breathe in moist sites.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Montezuma bald cypress
Taxodium mucronatum

Montezuma bald cypress
Taxodium mucronatum

Montezuma bald cypress
Taxodium mucronatum

Black willow
Salix nigra

Black willow
Salix nigra

Black willow
Salix nigra

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