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
50 ratings

Sunday - November 17, 2013

From: Everett, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Watering
Title: Plants for science fair project using greywater
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What kind of plants should we use for our science fair project.We are doing our project on how greywater affects plant growth. We saw your answer on how it affects it but we don't know what type of plants to use. Also where could we get grey water.

ANSWER:

Since you will be doing an experiment you will need to control as many of the variables as possible between treated plants.  I assume you will be treating some of your plants with greywater and some with fresh water.  That means that you would need plants of a similar size and species growing in (as closely as you can achieve it) identical environments—e.g., sun, shade, wind exposure, soils, container size).  At this time of year you will probably be growing your plants indoors with growlights and controlled temperatures.  Just be sure that all plants are growing under the same conditions so that the only thing that is varying is the type of water you use on them.  I don't know how long you have to complete your experiment but my guess is that you don't have time to grow them from seed.  My suggestion is to go to a local nursery that specializes in native plants (our focus and expertise are with plants native to North America) and see what they have available.  Choose similar-sized plants in similar sized-containers.  You probably want several plants of at least one species so that you can compare greywater with fresh water treatment using several plants for each treatment.  You may want to use more than one species depending on your experimental plan.  I don't know what native plants might be available in Massachusetts at this time of year, but you can visit our National Suppliers Directory to find nurseries near you that carry native plants.

You are going to have to do research in your area to find a source of greywater.   Most established homes have been designed to empty their greywater sources (e.g., showers, clotheswashers, dishwashers) into the sewer line or into septic tanks.   Some houses with septic tanks, however, often drain their washers (both clothes and dish) into separate drain fields, but I have no good way to locate them in your area. 

Be sure to read the answers and the links on the page of this previous Mr. Smarty Plants question about greywater and the links on this previous question as well.

 

More Watering Questions

Transplanting a Texas redbud sapling
July 27, 2008 - I've just discovered a Texas red bud sapling (baby tree)that decided to grow next to our fire pit. Although there's no reason for us to sit around the campfire in 100 degree weather, I would like to...
view the full question and answer

Leaves dropping on native Texas Mountain Laurel in San Antonio
September 20, 2008 - Please help. We have a beautiful TX Mountain Laurel in our front yard. This year the leaves are dropping like snow in the north. What do you think is wrong with our tree?
view the full question and answer

Effect of epsom salts and gray water on plants
December 04, 2007 - We live in Phoenix where water is a precious commodity. We have decided to use as much of the gray water as we can for watering our garden, shrubs and trees. One of the suggestions we heard about w...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of hydrophobic soil in Austin, TX.
July 13, 2011 - I believe I have an area in my garden with “hydrophobic soil”: no matter how much or how slowly I water, it just beads up and rolls off and the soil beneath remains cement dry and powdery. In my readi...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of desert willow in Wimberley TX
August 10, 2010 - I have a desert willow. It is always, whether I water it or leave it alone, yellow/ brown leaves, dark spots on the leaves, losing leaves. now it looks sad and not very healthy. Can you please tell m...
view the full question and answer

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