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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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Gresham, OR
Is Cerinthe major toxic to cats in Gresham, OR
Hi, I was wondering about whether a specific plant was poisonous or not specifically to cats.. I've done a lot of searching and can't find anything on whether or not this plant is considered toxi...
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Sandy, OR
How to care for blueberries in Oregon
New to oregon and to blueberry bushes - can you tell me the proper way to care for them - location-sandy, Oregon and unsure of which type of blueberry they are thank you
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Portland, OR
Vines for a shady porch in Oregon
My husband and I just bought our first home this fall in St. Johns, Portland. We would like to grow a vine on our front porch, but it is in full shade. It faces north east. We planted some jasmine vin...
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Portland, OR
Flower with spike of yellow flowers with hairy purple filaments
Fuzzy purple stamens! I can't find this plant identified anywhere. Blooms abt 1" or a little more across. 5 yellow petals, 5 sepals, & 5 stamens with yellow anthers, & the filaments are covered wi...
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Portland, OR
A nice-looking, fast-growing privacy hedge for Oregon
Would you please suggest a fast growing option to create a privacy hedge? I need to get my husband off the boxwoods he is touting.. The ideal solution would grow to 8 feet high, look interesting all y...
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Portland, OR
Plants for wall with afternoon sun in Oregon
Portland, Or. We have a stacked cement wall about 30 feet long that receives afternoon sun from the west. we would like to plant something edible along that wall that can tolerate afternoon sun. G...
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Portland, OR
Cutting back of non-native Salvia Elegans in Portland OR
I did not trim back my pineapple sage in the fall. It is now winter and the plants are bare sticks. Should I cut them back or leave them alone?
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Portland, OR
Trees for traffic buffer in Portland OR
Hi, saw the question about small space plants. On this topic, our street in Portland OR is looking for a fast growing, 20-30 ft tree that can go in a 12" wide parking strip along our road (we have ma...
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Portland, OR
Alleotrophic effects of caffeine found in Ilex species
I'm doing research for my biology class on the alleotrophic effects of caffeine. I'm planning to use Ilex vomitoria as the caffeine-producing plant. As the control I want to use another non-c...
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Portland, OR
Shade tree for Portland, OR
Looking for shade tree for Portland, Oregon, with non-invasive root system. House will be 20 ft away, with basement.
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Portland, OR
Plants to tumble over a retaining wall in OR
Please recommend plants that I could use to plant on the ground space above a 4 foot high, 150 foot long unattractive concrete wall that would grow over and down to cover the wall. The area is very sh...
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Portland, OR
Walnut tree root coming through basement floor in Portland, OR
I have a walnut tree root coming through my basement floor. I need advice as to what will it do to tree when I remove the root, like another root though a different part of my home. It is a large tree...
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Portland, OR
Nativity of Bidens frondosa from Portland OR
Is Bidens frondosa (Beggar's Tick) native to North America or is it introduced? If introduced, is it considered invasive?
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Portland, OR
Leaf burn on hydrangeas
What causes my leaves to burn on my healthy hydrangeas?
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Portland, OR
Timing for planting wildflower seeds in the Pacific Northwest
Do you think it is better to sow wildflower seeds in the Pacific NW in the Fall/early Winter or Spring?
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Portland, OR
Looking for leaves of milkweed plants for experiment
I am an undergraduate chemistry student at the University of Portland and want to perform an experiment using milkweed leaves. How would I get milkweed leaves at this time of year? Any help you can p...
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Portland, OR
Spreading Poison Oak to Clothes and Shoes
I had a poison oak rash about 2 years ago and during that time I had to attend a wedding. At the wedding I wore a pair of dress shoes and a pair of cowboy boots. Can I wear these shoes again? Is there...
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Portland, OR
Grape Vines and spacing for Portland, OR
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a somewhat small south-facing yard next to my home (less than 8' wide). I would like to build a tall arbor for grapes that runs along the length of my home (about 4...
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Portland, OR
Plant ID from Chicago
When I was hiking in Portland, OR, my friend had me eat a leaf off of a trail-side plant. It tasted very much like sour apple, it was delicious. It has average-sized green leaves and in July it had no...
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Portland, OR
Rubber (latex) in Balloon plant (Asclepias physocarpa)
I need milkweed leaves that contain rubber. The common milkweed species Asclepias syriaca has rubber in it. Do the milkweed of Balloon plant milkweed (Asclepias physocarpa) contain rubber?
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Portlandia, OR
Plants native to Hudson River
What plants grow along/in the Hudson River?
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