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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

Newton, MA
Plant identification
I have had a plant for 37 years! It is a vine with leaves that grow in groups of three and they typically have 5 points. The leaves are dark green and shiny. I would love to know what this old friend ...
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Newton, MA
Preserving endangered plants in Massachusetts
I've recently visited the national registry of threatened or endangered plants for my Massachusetts home, with a hope of : 1. Identifying rare, threatened or endangered species in my state. 2. fi...
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Newton, MA
Low-Maintenance Hedge for Massachusetts
I want to put in a native low-maintenance hedge in a sunny spot with plants that can take dry soil. I would like the plants to grow to less than 4 feet wide. It can be an informal hedge, but I don't ...
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Belmont, MA
Identification of all-white small plants growing in the woods in Belmont, MA.
I have just seen a group of completely ALL-WHITE small plants growing in the woods. They have 4-8in. stalks with a kind of bell-shaped flower growing at the top. There is no green anywhere on this pla...
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South Boston , MA
Planter boxes on a roof deck in Boston MA
What will grow in planter boxes on a roof deck in Boston ma? We are planning to make our own planters to sit on the framing "outside" our deck rail. We have 4 ft from the rail to the edge of the ho...
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Cambridge, MA
Groundcover for area with impact from rain from roof
The small garden on the side of my townhouse gets some hard rainfall during every storm. We've found ways of redirecting and using much of the rainfall (gutter and downspout to rain barrel, permeable...
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Cambridge, MA
Source for native Orobanche plant seeds for research
I'm looking for native Orobanche plant seeds for a research project, but have had no luck so far. We've been able to locate lots of sources for the noxious weed Orobanche (from Europe), but none for...
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Cambridge, MA
Plants to stabilize sandy slope in Massachusetts
Dear Mr. Smartypants, I am working on a small public housing project in Chelmsford, MA, northwest of Boston. We have a steep, sunny and SANDY slope and I am stumped as to what to recommend that wi...
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Arlington, MA
Native invasives question from Arlington MA
When I searched your website for creepers in Massachusetts, I found the following recommendations: Campsis radicans and Parthenocissus quinquefolia. But in response to a reader's question, you called...
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Arlington, MA
Height of tree to block sun on deck in Arlington MA
I am trying to figure out how tall a tree I should buy in order to make sure to block out the sun on my deck
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Lexington, MA
Distinguishing native Celastrus scandens from non-native C. Orbiculatus from Lexington MA
Dear Mr. Plants, I maintain a wildflower garden with the Lexington Field and Garden Club in Lexington, Massachusetts. Every year, I pull up sprouts of Celastris orbiulatis. I want to plan...
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Lexington, MA
How to get rid of invasive vine
We moved into our very old (300+ year house) several years ago and I am slowly getting round to cleaning up and replanting flower beds. When I cleared the space to grow clematis along a fence in the b...
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Medford, MA
Native trees for Medford MA
Two quick questions. 1) what trees would grow happily along the banks of the Mystic River in Medford, MA? 2) Would it be o.k. to plant weeping willows? Are they indigenous to the area? I'm not a pur...
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Dorchester, MA
Smarty Plants on Tamarisk
Where can I buy Tamarisk, and will it survive in Massachusetts? I've seen it in Provincetown, on Cape Cod.
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boston, MA
Percentage of worlds flowers of each color
What percentage of the world's flowers are blue? red? white? yellow?
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Boston, MA
Definition of what constitutes a native plant
Hello, I am doing research concerning "native plants" for the Northeast. I am "befuddled" as I am finding conflicting definitions for what constitutes a native plant. Do you have a good definiti...
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Boston, MA
Native vine to cover chain link fence in Massachusetts
I have a chain link fence I don't want to bother taking down, any suggestions on a clinging vine that will rapidly attach itself to the links and eventually cover it with a green "blanket"? thanks
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Boston, MA
Native Plants for New England
Can you assist me in finding more information on flowers and plants in Massachusetts and New England?
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Boston, MA
Identifcation of strange orange growth on shrubs
I have found a strange orange ball shape with softer spikes about 1-2 in. growing from it on my shrubs, they grow around the branch. I believe they are Yews. I have never seen them before but now ther...
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Boston, MA
Parasitic paintbrush
Many years ago I tried to grow some paintbrush seedlings with some seeds you sent me and found it difficult. Based on pictures in the literature I noticed that paintbrushes do not seem to affect their...
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Boston, MA
Groundcover for Boston MA
We have a small back yard that gets great sun in spring before the leaves are fully back on the tall trees surrounding the perimeter, and then a lot of shade in summer. We have weird patchy grass and ...
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