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

Monday - January 24, 2011

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Diseases and Disorders, Soils
Title: Plants to grow in high zinc, lead and copper soil in Los Angeles
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We live on the Westside of Los Angeles and have just been given the bad news that our beds are high in zinc (86.39), lead (45.98) and copper(12.95). Can you recommend some plants that may grow in these conditions. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Since we are not soil chemists, we are unfamiliar with the numbers you gave us, so we did a little research and found three websites you could look at, compare your figures (if they are measured the same way) with the figures in these papers:

Fact Sheet: Zinc in Soil

Lead in Garden Soils

Environmental Effects of Copper

Again, this is pretty far out of our field, and we don't know how your numbers compare with the "safe" numbers quoted in these articles, nor do we have any lists of plants that can survive in those soils. We are curious, if those numbers are abnormally high, to know how the metals entered your garden soil. However, we would suggest that, at least for your flower beds, you replace that soil, or amend it with compost and other organic matter, which will dilute the effects of the metals. Without knowing your sun exposure, soil moisture or space requirements, there is no way we could recommend specific plants.

We are assuming that if your garden has that problem, others in your area share it. Your best source for on-the-spot information of this sort is the University of California at Davis Cooperative Extension Office for Los Angeles County.

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

What to do with a sickly American elm in Austin, Texas
September 27, 2010 - I have an American elm that is about 6 feet tall in my yard. It is has not grown quickly this year--as compared to another American Elm that I have in another spot that is about 3 feet tall and has m...
view the full question and answer

Planting from pots in summer in Austin
July 01, 2009 - It's the last week in June and temperatures are going to be at 100 or more all week. I've some plants that I'm wondering about transplanting to an exposed site in this heat: muhlenbergeria lindheim...
view the full question and answer

Should shredded Ashe juniper be composted for mulch?
May 06, 2009 - Our neighbor shredded some Texas Hill Country cedar trees. Can we use it safely as mulch? Do we need to wait until it composts some?
view the full question and answer

Damaged oaks from Hurricane Ike in League City, TX
August 25, 2009 - After hurricane IKE, one of our oak trees (in front yard) was partially uprooted from the ground. We did place it back, and tie it down with supports. Further, we inserted fertilizer spikes, and give ...
view the full question and answer

Decline of Japanese ferns in Austin
June 16, 2008 - I've enjoyed beautiful Japanese ferns in my shaded garden for about ten years. They are looking spent and straggly, despite fish emulsion, compost,and lots of mulch and soaker hose watering in the s...
view the full question and answer

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