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
1 rating

Monday - May 21, 2012

From: Ashmore, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Which plants are resistant to dog urine in Ashmore, IL??
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Which native plants are resistant to dogs urinating on them?

ANSWER:

Mr Smarty Plants wasn’t aware that this was such a problem, but he doesn’t have a dog. Checking on the internet reveals numerous articles about yellow spots on the lawn and wilted plants that are tied into dog behavior, diet and physiology, and gender issues.

Here are three links that look at this issue from the doggie/owner perspective. Some of the information is conflicting, but they make interesting reading.

   aggie-horticulture

   drsfostersmith.com

   peteducation.com

Let’s start with dog urine. Dog urine, as well as the urine of most all mammals, contains urea which is a waste product of protein metabolism. It is removed from the blood and concentrated by the kidneys, and excreted along with other salts via the urine. Urea is a nitrogen compound  that, in the soil, is converted to various  molecules and ions: ammonium carbonate, ammonium ion, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Nitrates are the principal form of nitrogen that is used by plants. A urinating dog causes a sudden occurrence of these chemicals in the soil in high concentration and creates a hypertonic environment that causes the plant cells to lose water and die. This is somewhat analogous to spilling a handful of fertilizer granules from your spreader onto your lawn. One remedy is to quickly add water to the spot in order to dilute the molecules and prevent the damage, however with dog urine, the practicality of this is questionable.

Another approach is to find plants that can tolerate high salt concentrations. These are often plants close to the seashore or in arid habitats, but some plants in the northern US where roads are salted in the winter can fit into this category.
Here are some links for salt resistant plants that may prove helpful:
   allexperts.com     (grasses)

   mortonarboretum.org

   ncsu.edu

After you find some plant prospects, check them out in the Native Plant Database to learn about their characteristics and growth requirements, and see some photos.



 

More Pests Questions

Secretions of fluid from crepe myrtles
June 09, 2008 - On my crepe myrtle tree I have dozens of 1/2-inch-long narrow bugs that seem to secrete tiny drops of fluid. They appear on the branches of the tree. Are these harmful to the tree? Do I need to do ...
view the full question and answer

Problem with leaves of Texas Ash in Austin
May 21, 2012 - We purchased a 3' to 4' Texas Ash in March 2012. The past few days I noticed new leaves at the top are curled under, have a milky substance on them, and more than a few ladybugs on them. What is thi...
view the full question and answer

Mosquito-deterring plants for shady hillside
July 05, 2011 - We have a part to full shaded hill side/ native woodland area that was once covered with english ivy..we managed to get rid of all the ivy but now we are overtaken with violets..maybe they are even na...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Ashe juniper from Lakeway TX
May 25, 2013 - Dear Sir/Madam, I have been living for the last three years in Lakeway, Texas approximately 20 miles west of Austin. In my back garden there are several ashe junipers about 15-20ft tall. However...
view the full question and answer

Small tan balls on oak from Pipe Creek TX
May 21, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, our spanish oak is growing tan colored lumpy balls about the size and weight of a marshmallow..sometimes just one at the end of a short stem and sometimes 2-3 clumped together....
view the full question and answer

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