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 - July 15, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils, Watering
Title: Should I acidify my well water for native plants
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Should I acidify my well water for irrigation of native plants? There is not enough rainwater collection.

ANSWER:

I don't know where your well is and what groundwater source it pulls from, but the readings for pH in the Barton Creek watershed groundwater for 2007 ranged from slightly acidic (6.63) to slightly alkaline (7.55). I suspect other groundwater sources in the Austin area have a similar range. You can check your watershed data yourself with the Water Quality Protection Database Query. To do so, select "Conventional/Nutrients" from the Parameter Types, your watershed, and choose a single year (e.g., 2007) to avoid having a huge file to download. It is true that the pH of rainwater may be slightly acidic because the raindrops pick up CO2 out of the atmosphere as they fall, but I can't think that it would be necessary to acidify your well water for your plants if they are Central Texas natives since they are well-adapted to our alkaline soils and water. If you are watering plants that aren't native to Central Texas but are, for instance, native to East Texas, such as Rhododendron canescens (mountain azalea) or Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea) that require acidic soils, your best solution is to grow them in containers (either above ground or buried in the ground) with added supplements (e.g., peat) to make the soil more acid. Central Texas natives don't need that. You could, however, mix your rainwater with your well water before you use it if you want to go to that trouble. This should make your well water slightly less alkaline.

If you don't already have a copy, you might like to download a copy of The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting

 

More Soils Questions

Is it OK to remove soil around oaks - Austin, TX.
May 24, 2013 - I have several oaks trees (one live oak + burr oaks) from 15'-35' in height. They seem healthy. A local arborist says they were planted too deep and that the soil around them needs to be excavated t...
view the full question and answer

Fertilizer amounts for native perennials in Belton, TX
March 18, 2009 - I am a novice gardener and need advice on how to fertilize my native perennials. I would like to use organic fertilizer and need advice on exactly what to use. I have a compost pile but it does not ...
view the full question and answer

Changing the pH of the soil
January 16, 2012 - Hi, We have a job that has mostly Texas native plants on it. The architect is wanting to drop the pH levels of the soils to acidic levels that we don't feel is good for the plants and the area. ...
view the full question and answer

Is the Obedient Plant a bog plant?
August 16, 2008 - I purchased 2 obedient plants at a farmer's market in Michigan. As I was unfamiliar with this plant, the merchant told me it did well in full sun. It was just what I needed. When I got home I look...
view the full question and answer

Compare Natives to Lawn for Carbon Footprint Benefits in Durham, New Hampshire
September 22, 2010 - Are there carbon sequestration rate tables for turf (lawn) and bushes, shrubs, trees? I want to compare the carbon footprint benefit of lawn versus the same area put into native plantings.
view the full question and answer

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