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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

Canby, OR
Non-native, invasive peanut butter tree from Canby, OR
I too have a peanut butter tree with the pink and white blooms, its about 5 years old and is beautiful, but 2 weeks ago it started wilting and losing all its leaves, I am afraid it is dying. Can I sav...
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Aurora, OR
Plant identification
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, (love the name), I have found a plant in my yard. Underground it looks like a green onion, above ground it has a broad leaf, a thin 8-12 inch stalk and the top 2" of the stalk...
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West Linn, OR
Plant with orange berries in Oregon
I have a viney type plant that hangs down over and along a rock wall at my house in Portland, that is producing an orange colored berry. What is it? Is it edible? My neighbor just tried one and he ...
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West Linn, OR
Skin irritation caused by blanket flower (Gaillardia sp.)
Could you tell me whether it is the leaves or the spent flower heads, the seed heads, that cause irritation to bare legs after walking through a field of Indian Blankets? Gallardia I believe is the La...
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Oregon City, OR
200 year old white oak with no acorns in Oregon City OR
We have a white oak tree in our yard that is about 200 yrs old. We have lived in the house for 30+ years, and have never seen an acorn. We have had it pruned by an arborist, who said it is in good...
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Oregon City, OR
Non-native peanutbutter tree suckering in Oregon City OR
I have a beautiful 'peanutbutter tree' in my yard. I have noted that there are plantlets coming up that appear to be attached to the main root(s) of the tree. I have been breaking them off as I don...
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Tualatin, OR
Was my grandmother growing a Honeysuckle Bush in Middleton, Idaho?
I would like to know the name of the flowering bush that grew in the backyard of my grandmother's house in Middleton, Idaho. I remember it to be purple in color and had petals with what I used to ca...
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Lake Oswego, OR
Viability of Juniperus ashei for making furniture
My husband uses juniper from Oregon to make beautiful furniture. Underneath the ugly bark is a wonderful wood. Is this the same Juniper as we saw all around Austin, Texas.
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Colton, OR
Deer-resistant native plants for Oregon
I have 21 acres of timber property in Oregon. We are converting part of that property to residential and I would like to plant wild flowers. I want to make sure I only plants native to Oregon and wo...
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Beaverton, OR
Vine Choices Scarce in Beaverton Oregon
Hi, I am looking for a hearty vine that we could use to cling to and cover a cement wall that is about 8 feet tall and 30 feet long. It is on the south side of our house but never gets direct sunli...
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Beaverton, OR
Care for California lilacs from Portland OR
Hi There, We live in the Portland Oregon area, so temps are moderate and winters are wet. We have several California Lilacs that are about 7ft in height and have created the perfect screen. Love th...
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Beaverton, OR
Groundcover for Oregon gravel path
I'm looking for a native ground cover to grow in the gravel between flagstones in a path in my backyard. The gravel is 1/4-10 so it is very loose. The path gets midday sun but is shaded by the house ...
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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
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
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
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
Leaf burn on hydrangeas
What causes my leaves to burn on my healthy hydrangeas?
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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
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
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
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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