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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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Questions From Near You

Placerville, CA
Disease and soil disturbance effects on Pacific madrone
I have a couple acres, here in Northern California Sierra Nevada foothills. My property has many, many trees - quite a few are the beautiful (yet messy!) Arbutus menziesii, or Pacific Madrone. Some ...
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Diamond Springs, CA
Trimming oak threatening fence in California
I live in Diamond Springs,California,I have a large oak tree growing between my neighbors' house and mine. A large branch is cracked and in danger of falling on my fence,I would like to lighten it up...
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El Dorado Hills, CA
Non-native blue potato bush in El Dorado Hills CA
I have two blue potato bush topiary planted in my front porch in a very big planter. It's getting a full afternoon sun. I am wondering why they are losing their leaves??? Am I overwatering them??? Al...
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Auburn, CA
Discouraging rattlesnakes in northern California
Searching for information re: managing your garden to discourage snakes, especially rattlesnakes. I live in northern California and we have many. I found one of your articles, but the link to an U. of...
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Folsom, CA
Folsom CA Wall-cover
I live in Folsom, CA and I have an ugly cinder block wall that I want to cover, I want something that is low maintenance and that is going to grow and spread into my grass. The only one i can really t...
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Folsom, CA
Need tree suggestions for a long, narrow strip in Folsom, CA.
I live in Folsom, Ca. I have a long strip (50') of planting area about 2.5' wide at the top of a retaining wall to the fence behind it. I would like to plant alternating (2) trees down this strip to...
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Granite Bay, CA
Changing color of crape myrtle blooms
I have 5 well established crape myrtle trees whose blooms are a very light lavender/pink color. I would like to know if there is any way to deepen or change the color of the blooms. I would prefer a m...
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Pine Grove, , CA
Smarty Plants wild sweet pea
We were asked if the seed pods of the wild sweet pea are edible. (California)
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Pine Grove, CA
Dill-like plant in veggie garden in California
I have a plant that appeared in my veggie garden. Looks like dill in spring when green, but the leaves smell more like turpentine! Now, 4-5 foot tall, brown, it produces lots of small, oval - not cr...
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Rocklin, CA
Non-native banana plants dying back in Rocklin CA
I bought a home last July in Rocklin, CA that had several banana plants growing in the yard. They died back during the winter frost. We pruned them back to the ground and placed mulch over the top. ...
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Fair Oaks, CA
Clearing out non-native Himalayan blackberry
Can you recommend a way to clear an area of Himalayan blackberry? We have cut the canes back but wish to eliminate them completely so that we can replant that area with native plants attractive to wil...
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Citrus Heights, CA
Plants to control erosion in shade in California
I need plants that will help prevent soil erosion on a sloping area under a wood fence. The area has filtered light. thank you!
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Roseville, CA
Trimming of dead foliage on trunks of yucca in California
There is a Yucca plant in the back yard. I want to know how to get the old foliage that has died off of the trunks, it looks kind of ragged. The foliage is about three feet from the green. Can you ...
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Glencoe, CA
Trees to plant around horse corrals
I would like to know what types of trees would be good to plant around my horse corrals.
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Lincoln, CA
Small tree for Northern California backyard
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm looking for a small tree for backyard (west side of house). I'm replacing a Calif.Laurel which is not doing well because it is planted on a downward slope and gets too m...
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Antelope, CA
Identification of gourd plant growing in central California
I am not sure if this flowering plant is native to North America. It is found in dry land grazing fields at about 100 feet in elevation in central California. It is large--2-6 feet across with a sti...
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Mountain Ranch, CA
Smarty Plants on Wildflowerology
I know there is a word for everything, but I can't find the offical word for the study of wildflowers. Wildflowerology just doesn't sound right. Can you help?
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Sacramento, CA
Problems with Acer rubrum in Sacramento
We live in Sacramento California and have two seven year old Magenta Maple trees in our front yard that are planted about 65 feet from each other. This is the second year in a row that the tree on th...
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SACRAMENTO, CA
Cross pollination of orange and crapemyrtle
I have a crapemyrtle tree growing 3 feet from a navel orange tree. This summer a shoot grew from the ground 5 inches from the orange tree. The shoot looks just like the orange tree but the leaves were...
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Sacramento, CA
Eliminating ragweed in Sacramento CA
Rag weed. How to be rid of it! My wife and lots of others that live in this part of Sacramento suffer greatly.
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Sacramento, CA
Why has yucca not bloomed from Sacramento CA
I looked for an answer to my question on your list but did not find one. We have had a yucca plant that has never bloomed since we planted it about 8 years ago. I has grown tall (6-7 feet) and we ha...
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