Contact Us Host an Event 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

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

More Problem Plants Questions

How Can I Tell an Invasive Thistle from a Native
May 01, 2012 - Mr Smarty Plants, I have some thistles coming up in my yard. I'd like to keep them if they are native, but not if they are invasive or non-native. How can I tell? My yard is a wild area in West Lak...
view the full question and answer

Source of Allergies in Austin, TX
June 19, 2012 - Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants. I live in Northwest Austin and I've been suffering from allergies since moving to Austin. The allergies seem to occur at least once a year for at least a month or two. Beg...
view the full question and answer

Controlling Triadica sebifera (Chinese tallow tree)
July 20, 2013 - We are trying to remove Chinese tallow trees from the lake bed on Lake Buchanan. We cut them down, but they grow back from the roots. They are very hard to dig out. Do you have any suggestions for how...
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of Japanese bindweed in Massachusetts
February 04, 2009 - How do you get rid of Japanese Bindweed (mile-a-minute)?
view the full question and answer

Controlling poison oak or poison ivy in Iowa
April 29, 2010 - We recently purchased a property that is VERY wooded and has been vacant for two yrs. with little upkeep previously. We have (we were told) l00 yr old poison oak vines hanging from trees. We hired so...
view the full question and answer

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