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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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Monroe, WA
Saving seeds of western red cedar from Monroe WA
I would like to know how to save and store seeds of western redcedar if not planning on planting them their current year.
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Woodinville, WA
Distressed non-native weeping willows in Washington State
What could be causing my weeping willows to be distressed year after year?
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Woodinville, WA
Eliminating yuccas from yard in Woodinville, WA
My plant areas are being overrun by Yucca plants. They are also growing and destroying my asphalt driveway. How can I get rid of some of them permanently?
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Everett, WA
Why are the leaves on my Laurel hedge turning brown in Everett, WA?
Our laurel hedge seems to have brown leaves on the top of the bush. We haven't had a freezing winter so we are trying to figure out why some of the leaves are brown.
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Redmond, WA
My Mock Orange fails to flower in Redmond, WA.
I planted a Mock Orange shrub about 5 years ago. The first few years, it only produced leaves but no blossoms. Then, last year, it finally produced 4-5 blossoms on 2 of the branches. This year, it a...
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Redmond, WA
Leaves shriveling on non-native Japanese maple in Redmond WA
My husband and I bought a Japanese Maple 3 years ago which we planted in an old wine barrel for our patio, along with some ivy and grass to keep the surface covered. Until recently, it has been doing ...
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Kenmore, WA
Low maintenance, shade tolerant groundcover for Pacific Northwest
What's a good low maintenance, shade tolerant ground cover for the Pacific Northwest? It needs to have good erosion control, too.
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Carnation, WA
Plant identification, possibly Actaea rubra, red baneberry
I came across a plant that has leaves similar to the astillbe shrub, stands about 3 feet high, and instead of a flower spire, has a chunk of bright red berries the size of medium-sized pearls atop its...
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lynnwood, WA
Kinnikinnick for a green roof
Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I live just north of Seattle and want to build a green roof (outdoor kitchen) I'm concerned about the weight of the soil (saturated), drainage etc. am building from scratch and...
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Mountlake Terrace, WA
Leaves turning brown on geum in Mountlake Terrace WA
Assuming a geum is North American . . . mine are turning brown unlike any time before. They get watered occasionally and then dry out. Is there something special I should be doing for geums? They get ...
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Marysville, WA
Clover in grass in Marysville WA
I noticed clover growing in my grass and know that this is a sign of poor nitrogen in my soil. I would like to know of some native plants / shrubs that I could put near my house in Washington that ...
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Bellevue, WA
Cutting Juncus effusus back from Bellevue WA
I read your posts about Juncus effusus and just have one follow-up question. When is the best time to cut them back to the ground - before winter or early spring? I live in the Pacific NW. I recent...
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Bellevue, WA
Canadian Marine West Coast Plants
What type of plants are found in the Canadian marine west coast climate?
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Seattle, WA
Why is Rhus aromatica more deer resistant from Seattle
I have a large area that I would like to cover with Rhus aromatica. My landscaper says that in his experience, Rhus typhina and glabra in this area are heavily browsed by deer. I noticed in your dat...
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Seattle, WA
Maintenance policy for Ask Mr. Smarty Plants
Greetings, I am a volunteer at the University of Washington’s Elisabeth C. Miller Horticultural library. I am currently developing a maintenance policy for our database of gardening questions and ...
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Seattle, WA
Propagation of poinsettias
How do I grow poinsettias from seed pods?
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Seattle, WA
Non-native acacias for Washington State
Hello! I have been unable to find any sources for the seed of Prairie Acacia, Acacia angustissima var hirta. Var angustissima, from tropical America, is in cultivation, but I think it is tender to col...
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Seattle, WA
Local native plant for grave marker in Washington
Dear wildflower expert, Our friend’s dog died, and is buried in western Washington, near the town of Monroe. My wife is from central Texas, and thought a Texas perennial would be a nice marker. ...
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Seattle, WA
Root rot in trees near Lake Wenatchee State Park, WA
Lake Wenatchee State Park, WA has been closed due to root rot for a year. I own a cabin 1 mile from the State Park. I cannot find a single piece of information about whether private property near th...
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Seattle, WA
Wildlife benefit of western coneflower (Rudbeckia occidentalis)
A neighbor and I are planting a nearby waste area. I'd like to plant things that will help any wildlife that's managed to survive, probably birds. I may be able to get Western Coneflower (Rudbeckia ...
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Seattle, WA
Grass for Seattle Arboretum
I am writing to you on behalf of the Arboretum at South Seattle Community College Arboretum. I am interested in Panicum virgatum Switch Grass as a plant for a very heavy clay garden in our Arboretum a...
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