Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Tuesday - February 24, 2015

From: Newtown Square, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Safe Concrete Planters For Plants?
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

We are building low concrete walls around a patio (in Washington, DC). Can we create the walls to act as planters or will the lime leaching make the soil too inhospitable for most plants?

ANSWER:

Beck Cowles has written a good article about building raised beds for plants and includes the pros and cons of the different materials available. It is on the Ecology Center website. This is a non-profit group in Berkley that has been focusing on the environmental impacts of urban living for over 40 years. Beck says that concrete less than one year old can leach lime, affecting soil pH and suggests that lining the planter can prevent the lime from entering the soil.

As an alternative to this, Claudia Brownlee on her website, Artistic Garden talks about making hypertufa containers out of cement and soaking the containers for at least 3 days to leach the excess lime out so the planter won't be toxic to plants. She also suggest if containers are too big for soaking that hosing them down 2-3 times a day for 3-5 days will also work. Other suggestions include leaving the container outside for 1-2 months so the rain leaches out the lime. Good luck with your planter.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Red oaks that didn't drop leaves in Austin
April 04, 2012 - I have a number of Red Oaks on land that did not drop leaves this past fall. Now these same trees seem to be dead? It seems there's some type of mold/fungus on the trees. Some trees have small patche...
view the full question and answer

Pruning live oak shoots from San Antonio
September 10, 2011 - I am new to TX and am curious about removing suckers/water sprouts from my Live Oaks. Everything I've read about pruning Live Oaks states that you must paint ALL cuts, so I assume that all means al...
view the full question and answer

Rust spots on non-native red tip photinia
July 10, 2008 - I live in Oklahoma and my red tips have rust spots on leaves and some plants are losing leaves. This is a clay soil; can you give me any info. on how to solve this problem?
view the full question and answer

Problems with morning glory in Tennessee.
June 09, 2009 - I recently moved to Tennessee from Michigan. On my property I have a perennial morning glory. This year the leaves are all bubbly, the stems have white hard stuff on them and there is a brown hard t...
view the full question and answer

Problems on Prickly Pear Cactus in Illinois
November 19, 2014 - I have a fungus on my prickly pear cactus that is not a bug. I tested it and my fingers didn't turn red when I squeezed them. So how do I get rid of this as it is spreading to my other cacti?
view the full question and answer

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