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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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Questions From Near You

Hillsborough, CA
Deer-resistant groundcover for sunny hillside in California
we are looking for a deer resistant, drought resistant ground cover that we can grow from seed. we have a large,partial sunny hillside, well drained,that is cover with oak leaves and pine needles..and...
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Foster City, CA
Privacy screen for garden and pool in California
I need a fast growing screen for privacy. Here are the issues:1. we have a 3 story apartment building looking right into our backyard. so trees need to be at least 15' tall and dense. 2. we have a po...
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PACIFICA, CA
Control of Acacia escaping cultivation in California
My backyard has been overrun by acacia shrubs. How and what can I do to permanently rid the area of this weed? I hold an agricultural QAL so I have access to herbicides if there are effective ones a...
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Brisbane, Australia
Dietes bicolor invasive from Brisbane Australia
We have dietes bicolor growing in our garden. I am changing the type of garden and cannot seem to kill it. I've dugged it out, spent too many weekends pulling out every new shoot, used poison, but t...
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San Carlos, CA
Wildflowers for hill with erosion in San Carlos, CA
What wildflowers would you suggest for our hills that have erosion, low ground cover in San Carlos, California?
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Redwood City, CA
Deer Resistant Vine for California
What can I plant to cover a retaining wall in Redwood City, CA that will grow down on it (no dirt below) that deer will not eat? I have just about given up. I have tried jasmine and Gelsemium and regu...
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San Francisco, CA
Alternative to Habiturf™ for San Franciso area
Will Habiturf thrive in San Francisco? My current sod lawn is dying because the soil has become extremely hard. I'll replace the top couple of inches but underneath is a mix of sand and clay.
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San Francisco, CA
Eliminating unwanted vine on arbor in San Francisco
There is a vine growing on our arbor, it has sickle-shaped pods and is crushing the arbor, how do we get rid of it?
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San Francisco, CA
How to keep plants alive in a pot beside a patio waterfall.
Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a waterfall on my patio and I can't keep my plants alive in the flower pot next to waterfall. Is that beacuse of algae produced by waterfall? If so, can you please recomme...
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San Francisco, CA
Propagating Quercus agrifolia (Coast Live Oak)
I am a gardener for the city of San Francisco. I am just curious about the best way to prepare an acorn from Quercus agrifolia for planting. I have heard many ideas about using sandpaper and microwavi...
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San Francisco, CA
Root growth on non-native Pittisporum Tobira from San Francisco
How do the roots grow and spread for the Pittosporum Tobira shrub? I have one that is about 20 feet tall and wonder how to care for it? Do you have a picture of how the roots grow?
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San Francisco, CA
About Salvia superba
About 10 years ago, nurseries were offering a small salvia, called salvia superba or meadow sage. A few years later, "May Night" and "Blue Hill" appeared on the market similar to this first sal...
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San Francisco, CA
Is there an automated image download function for the NPIN Image Gallery?
Hi, I have a database/web technical question. Do you provide an interface to retrieve photos from your website programatically? Thanks!
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San Francisco, CA
Removing juniper roots from San Francisco
Topic-Juniper Tree Root Removal (agh!) Needs-3 removed yet roots remain, some growing UNDER the cement, driveway and house!!! (under growth = ~3" as far as I can determine, thus far). Question-Do I ...
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SF, CA
Pustules on geranium
I have a geranium that has developed oblong red/brown pustules/raised bumps on the undersides of the lower leaves. The foliage around the bumps is stil green but everything else has yellowed
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Palo Alto, CA
Damage to non-native Japanese maple
I have a medium sized branch of a dwarf outdoor Japanese maple partially (about 70%) broken off. How can I fix it? What chemical/plant hormone/material can I use to initiate regrowth of the broken par...
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Stanford, CA
Raising bluebonnets in Stanford CA
I'm a Houston girl now living in Northern California (Stanford). I would like to know if I need to adjust my growing timing for lupinus texensis? Mostly, I want to know when I should actually put th...
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Oakland, CA
Problems with Thuja in Oakland CA
I have a Thuja hedge about 100' long. Part of this hedge and a well established Rhododendron have been diagnosed with Armillaria mellea that is spreading. I see the bunches of mushrooms growing eve...
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North of San Francisco, CA
Inadvisability of allowing native orchids to cross-breed
Hello LBJ Native plants helper! This is the perfect place for me to ask a question that has been very perplexing to me. I live in Northern California and am doing research for naturalization of the te...
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La Honda, CA
Deer resistance of non-native photinia from La Honda CA
Is photinia deer resistant?
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Los Altos, CA
Mimosa pudica or \
I don't have a picture of a flower but I'm looking for a flower that I was told was called earthquake flower. It blooms at night. Could you help me?
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