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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.

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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.

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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!

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Sunday - July 11, 2010

From: St. Petersburg, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native herbs being burned by pool chlorine in St. Petersburg, FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My herb garden is next to my swimming pool, which is serviced by a company using chlorine. I have found that on the two unsuccessful attempt to establish my herb garden, the herbs burn off after the pool is treated. Can the chlorine be the cause and what can I do to prevent this happening again, barring the obvious; i.e., moving the herbs, or not using the chlorine?

ANSWER:

We are assuming you are referring to the culinary herbs, like rosemary, thyme, lavender, etc., all of which are native to the Meditteranean area and therefore out of our range of expertise. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in whcih the plant is being grown. However, something in the environment that is damaging your herbs would likely be just as damaging to native plants with which you might replace them, so we will do a little research and see what we can find out.

From Spectrum Analysts, we found this article on Pool Water and Nearby Plants.  The information in this suggests to us that normal chlorinating practices around a pool should not affect the plants. So, our advice would be to either watch or consult with the pool maintenance company to determine exactly what they are doing that is causing the damage to the plants. Whatever it is, either they are going to have to stop it, or you are not going to have any garden there at all.

 

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