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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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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.

Questions From Near You

Los Angeles, CA
Identification of tree with red feathery leaves
What is the name of a tree with dark red leaves, feathery, slim trunk; maybe in the pepper family? Jedi?
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LOS ANGELES, CA
Identity of vine with orangish flowers
I am looking to ID what I believe is a vine growing plant that blooms orangish flowers. I have pictures of the plant, and have attempted to use multiple plant ID websites. But have been unsuccessful. ...
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Los Angeles, CA
Is Lemon Cypress toxic?
Is the Lemon Cypress toxic?
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Los Angeles, CA
California Vine for Privacy Screening
I have a two story house going up behind my back yard. I would like to plant a climbing vine with non-invasive roots to provide privacy. I live in Los Angeles and the trellis would receive almost full...
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Los Angeles, CA
Non-native Jacaranda interfering with concrete wall from Los Angeles
We have been replanting the area surrounding our 2 story apt bldg and on one area, there is Jacaranda that started growing in an enclosed cement block wall area. The cemented walled in area which is ...
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Los Angeles, CA
Why are my potted Prunus caroliniana plants shedding leaves in LA, CA?
I bought Prunus caroliniana in pots to use as privacy fence on my balcony. Have had them for about 6 weeks and they are shedding a lot of leaves. Some leave are drying out and others have what ...
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Los Angeles, CA
Water-Wise Privacy Hedge for California
I would like recommendations for a privacy hedge that would grow at least 12 feet tall with non-invasive roots and hopefully water-wise in Los Angeles.
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Los Angeles, CA
Major poisonous plants in California
Hi! So I'm working on an art project that requires a comprehensive list of poisonous plants within California. I'm looking specifically however, for plants which are fatally poisonous (upon inges...
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Los Angeles, CA
Water requirements for fruit trees in California
Dear Sir; In which of these options (fruit trees) the need for watering in irrigation process is higher than the others: -Olive tree -Nectarines and peaches trees -Hazelnut trees -Pistachios and ...
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Los Angeles, CA
What do a bouquet red and yellow flowers mean?
I just need a question answered, sorry if it's not what you guys answer but what do red and yellow flowers together mean? I mean like a bouquet of yellow and red roses mixed together, not red and yel...
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Los Angeles, CA
Erosion control for steep slope in Southern California
I need help for soil erosion control for a steep slope in sunny Southern California. Thank you.
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Los Angeles, CA
Horsetail Rush invasive in Santa Monica CA
Mr. Smarty Plants: I live about 3 miles from the beach in the Santa Monica area and have an 18inch deep planter area in my backyard that is adjacent to my garage. I like the look of horsetail rush. I...
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Los Angeles, CA
Oak root resistant hedge for Southern California
I live in Southern California and my cypress hedge has oak root fungus. What kind of hedge can I plant that will grow fast and be resistant to the fungus?
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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
Tree with blue berries in Los Angeles, CA
There's a tree outside my house with somewhat thin and short spiky leaves with blue berries. The berries Some of the berries have a frost look and some are dark blue.
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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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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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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
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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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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