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
2 ratings

Wednesday - August 15, 2012

From: York, England
Region: Other
Topic: Soils, Poisonous Plants
Title: Detoxifying soil from York England
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How do you neutralize toxic soil, it may have been contaminated by Foxglove Digitalis Purpurea? Thankyou

ANSWER:

Wow! All the way from England. Nice Olympics, by the way. As it happens, your question is a little out of our territory. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, in Austin TX is dedicated to the growth, propagation and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow naturally. However, we have a previous answer in which the gardener confused Penstemon cobaea (Wild foxglove) and/or Penstemon digitalis (Mississippi penstemon) with the actual Digitalis Purpurea, native to Europe but not to the United States.

Please read the previous answer we have linked you to, which says, among other things, that the real foxglove may be capable of taking toxins up that are already in the soil but not of injecting any toxins into the soil. If you suspect toxins in your soil you need to find the horticultural or agricultural department of a local university and find out how you can get your soil tested. In Texas, this is usually accomplished by the County Agent of the Extenstion Service of Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University, if that gives you a clue on where to start looking. The college in your area would be the best equipped to advise you whether you can detoxify your soil if it is toxic, or not to worry about it.

Here is an article from North Carolina State University on Digitalis Purpurea. This does advise of the poisonous charcteristics but does not mention toxicity in the soil.

 

From the Image Gallery


Prairie penstemon
Penstemon cobaea

Mississippi penstemon
Penstemon digitalis

More Soils Questions

Will wood shavings in the soil require nitrogen from Charleston MO
May 04, 2011 - I cut down a big maple tree and a lot of the wood shavings was left in the soil. I planted a flower bed over the area this spring. I later read that the wood chips in the soil would use a lot of nitro...
view the full question and answer

Blooms on Desert Willow withering quickly in Rockwall TX
July 15, 2010 - Why do the blooms on my Desert Willow dry up and wither away in one or two days?
view the full question and answer

Help with composting in Katy TX
March 19, 2010 - I've gone on line and tried to figure out what I'm doing wrong with my compost pile. What exactly is the proper ratio, and the types of plant matter and layers to achieve the optimum decomposition i...
view the full question and answer

What to do with soil left over from new driveway in Austin
January 07, 2011 - When we had a new driveway put in in Mid-December, the topsoil and weedy grass was scraped into a low pile. I watered it and covered it with black plastic to kill all the plant matter. How long should...
view the full question and answer

Recovering neglected garden space from Grapevine TX
March 22, 2014 - I live in Grapevine TX (Dallas). I just moved into a house where almost the entire large backyard is covered by oak trees that shed tons of leaves throughout our mild falls/winters. The yard has not...
view the full question and answer

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