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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers Nan Hampton, Jimmy Mills and Barbara Medford to be the culpable and capable parties. Yet, others think staff members Damon Waitt, Joe Marcus and Philip Hawkins might 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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Questions From Near You

Pasadena, CA
Trees resistant to Armillaria mellea, root fungus
We had to bring down a 200 year old oak which root system was compromised by Armillaria mellea. We were told the fungus is still present in the soil & it's advisable to plant a resistant species. W...
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Pasadena, CA
Non-native creeping fig
I like the creeping fig that covers my brick wall but the roots are very invasive and are choking my rose bushes and other surrounding plants. I spent two days removing the roots and loosening the so...
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Pasadena, CA
Groundcover for parking strip in Pasadena, California
Can you suggest a low growing, low maintenance plant which will spread to cover parking strip in Pasadena, California? Thank you.
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Pasadena, CA
Alternative to grass as groundcover in area used by dog
I am looking for a beautiful groundcover to use instead of grass which need to be soft and animal friendly. My dog is in the yard a lot and she's 10 yrs old. I am looking for a groundcover which wi...
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Pasadena, CA
Evergreen vine for wall in Pasadena CA
Hi, I am looking for an evergreen vine to cover my block wall. I saw star jasmine kept really flowing and wild and loved it but I don't like the way it will look when It blooms. I want a vine that ...
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South Pasadena, CA
Erosion control for edge of artificial lake in California
How about erosion control at the edge of an artificial lake in Southern California? Juncus and ..?
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Altadena, CA
Smarty Plants on Ebenopsis
Why is the Texas Ebony, genus Pithecolobium, not in your database? Is it not a native? Thanks.
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Altadena, CA
Will Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry) be toxic to chickens?
We are considering planting Carolina Cherry Laurels around our yard for dense hedging purposes. We are concerned because we have a small flock of free-ranging chickens who eat every seed and leaf in ...
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Alhambra, CA
Smarty Plants on water-absorbing plants
I am looking for water-absorbing plants for L.A. zone. I am hoping this type of vegetation would ease the water retention problem at the planter right next to my basement. Is this a feasible solutio...
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San Gabriel, CA
Can orange trees be grown in Albany, CA
Can we grow an orange tree in Albany, CA?
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Montrose, CA
Christmas decorations on a live oak in Montrose CA
Is it OK to put Christmas lights and decorations on a live oak?
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Monrovia, CA
Evergreen privacy hedge resistant to verticillium wilt
I am looking for an evergreen, fast-growing privacy hedge (over 6') that is resistant to verticillium wilt and has low water requirements. I live in Monrovia, CA and have to replace hopseed bushes w...
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El Monte, CA
Plant identification site
Is there a site I can use to identify plants by photos of leaves, flowers, berries etc? I found a plant in my yard I cannot identify. The nursery near us could not identify it. It has some groups/clus...
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Los Angeles , CA
Help with non-native plants in California
I am growing some beads of pearl in my front yard in front of a pepper tree that has been around for over 150 years. My question is what can I do to get my beads of pearl to grow without cutting down ...
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Los Angeles , CA
Cochineal bugs on cactus
Mr. Smarty plants. I have purple prickly pear cactus that are developing small white flake like spots, mostly where the thorns would be. Why is this happening and how can I cure it?
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Los Angeles, CA
Trees around the inland waterways in Virginia
I am writing a piece about Virginia Beach, Virginia. Could you tell me other than Pine what trees are found in the forests around the inland waterways? Thank-you very much!
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Los Angeles, CA
Plants to grow in high zinc, lead and copper soil in Los Angeles
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 thes...
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Los Angeles, CA
Invasive definition kalanchoe pinnata
The plant Kalanchoe pinnata is listed as being invasive. What does that mean? Is it a weed or does it interefere with metropolitan plumbing? (root system)
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Los Angeles, CA
Vine for privacy on a deck in Southern California
I am looking for a climbing vine/plant that is non-flowering and can be grown year round in Southern California. We are looking to help create a private area along a deck for my grandmother because h...
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Los Angeles, CA
Natural location of Ceanothus impressus in California
Where is Ceanothus impressus 'victoria' native? I need as specific as you can. Thanks much.
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Los Angeles, CA
Plant identification
I have a tall leafy green plant growing in my garden. It has long flowering limbs that bear a pod that looks like a tiny green pepper. It then turns purple and falls off. The flower that remains is...
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