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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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Manteca, CA
Plant identification, orange honeysuckle
I have two potted trees in my yard. They have honeysuckle-shaped, orange flowers that bloom year long and the leaves also resemble those of honeysuckle. There were no identification tags on them whe...
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Lathrop , CA
Plants for shade in Northern California
What are good plants that grow and live in shade only?
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Stockton, CA
Spots on non-native naval orange trees from Stockton CA
I have two mature Navel Orange trees. One tree has developed spotty chlorophyl depleted areas that were not on the oranges when they were smaller. In addition, the oranges on both trees are smaller ,...
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Stockton, CA
Fruit on Jasmines
My jasmines have grown some small purple fruits and she is about to get her full bloom soon. Should I cut them off to help the plants out? What are they?
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Modesto, CA
Plants addicted to caffeine
Im doing a science project on if plants can get addicted to caffeine, but coffee in general and i was wondering what materials you need to figure that out.
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Modesto, CA
Native groundcover for central California
In Modesto, CA. Hot summers, cold winters. Need a low ground cover for area next to driveway approx. 5ft X 14ft. that stays green all year round. I did have grass there but neigbors lawn is loaded wit...
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Lockeford, CA
Sticky leaves on non-native weeping willow
Our weeping willow trees look healthy but have sticky leaves that attach to everything. They sparkle/shine from this very sticky mess. They are watered regularly, are they getting too much water? ...
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Waterford, CA
Non-fruiting Willamette raspberry plant in Wateford CA
I have a 2 year old Willamette Raspberry plant that has many blooms, bees, great growing conditions, very healthy but has never set one fruit. I know about pruning. Any suggestions? It has been bloomi...
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Waterford, CA
Beneficial characteristics of Phytolacca americana (Pokeweed)
I have a surprise Polk weed plant growing in my back yard, does it have any beneficial uses,and if not, how best to eradicate it. Thank you.
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Waterford, CA
Information about empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa)
I have an Empress Tree, 3 yrs old, and the limbs grow straight out from the trunk about 2-3ft and then grow straight upward. When do they start to grow outward for a canopy??
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Crows Landing, CA
Trees with non-invasive roots for California
My family is currently in the process of redoing our entire yard. A huge task I might add! We had fruitless mulberries planted and one Modesto Ash. As much as we loved them we are hating their roots. ...
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Oakley, CA
Identity of mint impersonator in California
Is there such a thing as a mint "impersonator"? There are random 'sprigs' of purple-stemmed, bright green leaf plants in my front yard. We just moved in to the house and I don't want to assume ...
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Livermore, CA
Pruning of tree poppy from Livermore CA
We have a Dendromecon rigida which has been in place for about 10 years and is doing fine. But the older growth gets dry, brown and crinkly, while the newer growth is bright and lush. I would like t...
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Livermore, CA
Vines for trellis in Livermore, CA
I am looking for a native vine for a northern California location. It's Livermore California with a climate intermediate between the SF Bay and the Central Valley. Some frost in the winter. Maybe 10 ...
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Livermore, CA
Interested in a mini food forest
I am interested in starting a mini "food forest" in a twelve foot by twelve foot patch of earth next to my house. I'd like to put a focus on making sure that the bulk of the plants I introduce are ...
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Livermore, CA
Tropical looking plants for pool area in California
I am looking for small tropical looking plants, groundcover, and 2-small trees for around my pool. They have to be non-toxic to dogs,cats, and people. They can't attract bees/wasps, or have a root ...
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Livermore, CA
Native trees for Alameda County, California
I looking for trees native to my area to plant on my property. I am located in Livermore CA.
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Galt, CA
Are non-native Chinese pistache poisonous to alpacas from Galt CA
Are Chinese Pistachio trees poisonous to alpacas?
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Newman, CA
Growing grapes from seed in California
Can I grow grapes from seed? If so, what is procedure?
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Pleasanton, CA
Care for Monardella undulata var. frutescens from Pleasanton CA
Inquiry about care of the plant Monardella undulata var frutescens "Jokerst." Full Sun? Soil? etc Thanks, Smarty!
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Pleasanton, CA
Ornamental tree recommendation for California
We live in Pleasanton, California and wish to plant an ornamental tree in our front yard. The tree will receive full sun, and the climate can get quite hot in the summer. A Japanese Maple would be th...
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