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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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

Questions From Near You

Bayonne, NJ
Non-native Japanese red maple exposed to full sun
I planted a Dwarf Japanese Red Maple tree about 3 yrs ago. Until about a month ago it was partially shaded by a massive chestnut tree, that has since been cut down. Now the new growth on my tree appea...
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Jersey City, NJ
Care of non-native Betula pendula 'Youngii' (Young's Weeping Birch)
We planted a Young's Weeping Birch on the side of our house here in NJ a few weeks ago and it seems to be thriving. When we purchased Fred (which is what we've named our youngster), he was in a pot ...
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Staten Island , NY
Dwarf evergreen shrub for windowboxes in Staten Island , NY
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Could you recommend a dwarf evergreen shrub, not deciduous that also has pretty flowers that would thrive in a container in the northeast...area would have sun for about 4 -5...
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Staten Island , NY
Non-native and invasive bamboos from Staten Island, NY
Hi I put some black Bamboo and some bias Bamboo in a large container about 6ft by 2ft and ht 18 inches .How can I get this Bamboo to thrive ? Suggestions on types of plant food or fertilizer or ant t...
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Staten Island, NY
Dwarf, Evergreen Shrub Suggestions for Staten Island
I had two rows of bushes in the front of my house. The back row of bushes is what is commonly known as a hedge. Unfortunately due to Sandy I lost the front row of bushes. Please help me, I am in conta...
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staten island, NY
Suggestions for native perennials in Staten Island, NY
My back yard garden has a good base of evergreen shrubs and perennials all doing well in clayish soil and I am ready now to add color and texture in an area with partial sun. Can you suggest hardy...
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Staten Island, NY
Purchase of frostweed in Staten Island NY
My grandson would like to buy a frostweed plant. Can I buy this from you?
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Newark, NJ
Native habitate sunlight as opposed to artificial light
Does a plant grow best in sunlight or artificial light?
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New York, NY
Lists of medicinal plants from New York City
Do you know any resources for lists of medicinal plants native to New York? Thank you
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New York, NY
Stick with tried and true plants for a green roof in New York
If I use Virginia creepers in a ground covered application for a green roof, how much soil should I provide depth wise?
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New York, NY
Skin care uses of sunflower seed oil
Just wondering what, if any, were the traditional uses of sunflower in skincare? I thought I read somewhere that the seeds were crushed up into an oil and used on the skin for sun protection? Is the...
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NEW YORK, NY
Cactus failing to thrive in New York City
My cactus seems to be either weak or dying. Its long stems are bending and softer than the rest. What is happening to it?
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New York, NY
Privacy screen for New York apartment balcony.
Hello, I live in an apartment in New York City with an outdoor large balcony. I would like to buy evergreens to make the space more private. Do you have any suggestions on what type of plant woul...
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New York, NY
Red berry that changes the taste of other foods
Hi, your site is fantastic. I heard from a friend that he tried a red berry in Florida which when eaten change the taste of other foods eaten afterwards. He ate a lemon after trying that berry and th...
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New York, NY
Transporting a plant on airplane from New York City
Can I transport via airplane a jade plant from New York City to Colorado in my suitcase?
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New York, NY
Trumpet Vine Dropping Buds
My trumpet vine is dropping its buds before flowering. This happened last year as well. Do you know what is causing this and what I can do to prevent it?
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New York, NY
Edible native plants in New York
In your plant database- which is great by the way- it does not say whether or not the plant is edible. Do you have any way to search for edible plants? Or do you have a separate database? Thanks!
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New York, NY
Care for indoor Lemon Cypress
How do I care for an indoor Lemon Cypress tree?
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New York, NY
Possibility of transporting native seeds to Europe
Hi, Is it possible to bring seeds for North American plants and wildflowers from the USA to Europe? I live in Italy and have many Italian friends who want me to bring seeds from America the next time ...
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New York, NY
Plants for a Vacant Lot in the Big Apple
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We have recently gone in to restore a vacant plot in Harlem. This soil is varied, but mostly rubble, old slag, some sand in one area, old fill- pH 7-8.5. We dug a small tren...
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New York, NY
drought-resistant turf grasses for New York City
Hi - I work at the Smithsonian in New York City and we have a very large lawn that is frequently used in the summer for programming. It gets very beat up. I read an article in teh New York Times about...
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