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 - April 30, 2009

From: Silver Spring, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Positioning a bald cypress among cattails in Silver Spring MD
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a rain garden, half of which is fairly overrun with broad- and narrow-leaf cattails. We've learned to be aggressive in thinning these out 2 to 3 times during the growing season. We also have a potted 4 foot Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) ready to drop into the ground. If we put the cypress in the wettest (and sunniest) part of the rain garden, it would be right in the middle of those cattails. Is it likely that the cattails would choke the cypress out, or could the cypress hold its own given that the cypress roots deeper into the ground than the cattails?

ANSWER:

If we had to make a choice between the two, it would be Taxodium distichum (bald cypress), hands down. It is a great tree, interesting year-round, even when it drops its needles, adaptable to wet or semi-dry conditions. The bald cypress can take sun or part shade, with the "knees" appearing in areas of poor drainage, which is okay with the tree. Typha domingensis (southern cattail) and Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail) are both native to Maryland. As you obviously already know, cattails can be very invasive and take over a wetland. So, why put them into direct competition? We would certainly recommend that you continue to control the cattails, and try to keep them from spreading any more. But the bald cypress does not have to go in the same place. It can do well in part shade, that is, 2 to 6 hours of sun a day, and does not have to have its feet in the water. Give it all the sun you can, and make sure it is well watered, especially the first year it is in the ground. Beyond that, we think it can hold its own very well. But watch those cattails!


Taxodium distichum

Taxodium distichum

Typha domingensis

Typha latifolia

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Spring blooming Acacia farnsiana in Austin
April 04, 2007 - I've been seeing a large shrub, possibly tree, around Austin this spring - and it is covered is small ball-like orangish-yellow blooms - very tightly covered in these blooms. From the car, it looks ...
view the full question and answer

Leafing out problems with oaks in Towson MD
June 02, 2012 - 3 native 5-year-old oaks kept old leaves until March and are not leafing by the end of May. The few leaves that have emerged are shriveled. WHAT'S WRONG?
view the full question and answer

What caused purple heartwood in my Tuliptree?
June 15, 2009 - My Tulip tree was hit by lightning and all bark from the base of the tree up to 50 feet was blown off. The tree also sustained a significant crack through the trunk. When the tree was cut down, we...
view the full question and answer

Care of lemon cypress from Winter Springs FL
April 14, 2011 - Please send me information on care of lemon cypress plant. I have one in small container on my patio. Should I take it in the house? Send any helpful information on its care. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

How can I tell the age of a Pecan tree in Rosenberg, TX?
September 03, 2010 - How can I tell the age of a Pecan tree? I live on the Brazos River and have a lot of large Pecan trees but the largest is approx. 11 ft. around.
view the full question and answer

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