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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Cambria, CA
Plant identification of bamboo-like plant in California
We just bought a house in Cambria, CA. The plant I'd like to ID grows like bamboo -- spreading fibrous stalks abt 6' high with beautiful orange blossoms that protrude out the top of the stalk. The...
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Paso Robles, CA
Replacement for running bamboo in California
We currently have running bamboo planted next to the side our house facing West, which has provided wonderful shade in front of two large windows. However, because it is running bamboo we are afraid i...
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San Luis Obispo, CA
Is the California Poppy posionous to dogs?
Can you tell me if the wild orange-colored California poppy is poisonous to dogs? They grow like weeds in my yard. Thanks.
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San Luis Obispo, CA
Vine for trellis in California
What type of climbing flower/plant would grow best on a trellis in an alcove that receives morning sun from a south eastern direction? I live in San Luis Obispo, CA. I have had good luck with jasmine ...
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San Luis Obispo, CA
Finding pictures in the Image Gallery from San Luis Obispo CA
How can I select a picture when I don't know the photographer or anything else, just the name of the plant?
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San Luis Obispo, CA
Native, non-invasive vines for wall cover in California
I live on the Central Coast in California. I have a stucco garage wall, which receives full sun, and faces West. I would like to plant a climbing vine to cover the wall, and was considering a clim...
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Shell Beach, CA
Over-trimmed junipers in Shell Beach CA
Help! My husband decided to "trim" the juniper bushes that are in front of our house that create a great private front yard. I guess he cut back into the dead wood and now nothing is regrowing. It'...
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Grover Beach, CA
Identification of yellow fruit with many fingers
This is a yellow lemon smelling fruit with many fingers. Yellow in color. Looks like an octopus.
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Arroyo Grande, CA
Pruning of Grape Kool Aid Plant in California
I have a Grape Kool Aid plant and was told it would grow to 6 or 7 feet tall, but it is well over that and I need to know if I can prune it and if so how?
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Nipomo, CA
Is Purple Hopseed poisonous to dogs?
Is the Purple Hopseed plant safe for dogs? We would like to plant a hedge of the purple hopseed at my parents home. They are elderly and have a small (8lb.) dog that they just love so much..I would ...
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Gonzales, CA
Windbreaks for Monterey County, CA
I am trying to find good wind breakers for Monterey County area, very windy in the valley.
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Salinas, CA
Sources of native seeds for California
Hello. I am trying to locate native seed producers in California. We have 100 acres of land that we would like to plant native seeds on and possibly harvest. Can you refer me to any California nati...
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Monterey, CA
Manzanita struggling in CA
I live in Monterey, CA and I have had a manzanita (either Dr. Hurd or Mt. Hood) growing successfully in my yard for about 4 years. This fall all the leaves turned brown and brittle. I am not sure if d...
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Monterey, CA
Native plants for Monterey, California
I'm attempting to get my grandparents to buy native plants for their Monterey, CA yard. They are looking for neat-looking, flowering plants that are easy for yard workers to maintain. The area is san...
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Monterey, CA
Low maintenance native plants for college campus in Monterey, CA
I am a graduate student at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. We are researching ways to save money (decreased maintenance, pesticide/herbicide use, etc) on our campus. I need so...
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Pacific Grove, CA
Trees for privacy screen in California
Hi Mr. Smartypants, We are first-time home-buyers of a cute little house and a relatively large lot in Pacific Grove, CA. Unfortunately the neighbors to the north have built a second story with a nic...
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Wasco, CA
Altering the flowering time of Phacelia tanacetifolia
I have been using Phacelia tanacetifolia as a forage plant in a 1 acre and 6 acre enclosure to mass rear the Blue Orchard Bee,(BOB), Osmia lignaria for use as a managed pollinator of almonds in Califo...
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KERMAN, CA
Duck-resistant plants for pond in California
I want to plant around a water pond and I need some plants that my ducks will not destroy. Please help.
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Gilroy, CA
Getting rid of algae on dirt and patio
Algae and on patio and dirt, and how to get rid of same?
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Gilroy, CA
Drought tolerant plants for Gilroy, California
We live in Gilroy, CA. We want to plant drought tolerant plants native to our area. We already have native sycamores and oak trees, manzanita and snowberry shrubs, and we have a list of local wildflow...
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Gilroy, CA
Moving potted plants from California to Georgetown TX
Hi, I am moving from Gilroy CA to Georgetown TX, I have many potted plants I would love to take with me but I am not sure what would survive in my new location. These plants have been cared for so ma...
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