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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

Washington, DC
Self-watering planters
I'm a big proponent of the EarthBox (tm) phenomenon - that is, so-called "self-watering" or sub-irrigation planters where a separate but connected reservoir underneath the soil in the planter is fi...
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Washington, DC
Smarty Plants on Invasive Plants
How many plants are invasive?
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Washington, DC
Source for Carex blanda in Washington DC
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, After reading your recommendations, Carex blanda seems to be a suitable evergreen native plant for a small pond island planter I am making for our small backyard turtle pond....
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Washington, DC
plants for a green roof
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We have a small, homemade green roof with a 4" medium on our sunroom, which faces south, however, a portion is partially shaded a Sweet Gum tree. Native Iris cristata, phlox...
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Washington, DC
Plants associated with Acer rubrum (Red maple)
What plants are commonly associated with Acer rubrum in its natural habitat?
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Washington, DC
Vine for Patio Wall in D.C.
I have a concrete patio wall 4 feet tall and 9 feet long in Washington, D.C. The wall runs east to west and there is a patio above it. I am looking for vines to cover it so that I would not have to lo...
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Washington, DC
Problems with new transplant non-native weeping willow from Washington DC
I replanted a very young BABY weeping willow tree and now it looks as if the leaves are drying up like it is dying. I know that it could also be in shock from the new transplant or it can be dying ...
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Washington, DC
Replacing Nandina with natives for a schoolyard in Washington DC
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Our schoolyard now has some invasive plants in the landscaping that we would like to replace with native plants. We have four clumps of Nandina planted at each pillar along a...
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Washington, DC
Rain garden plants for DC
Please recommend deep-rooted, native, perennial plants, 1-3 feet high, for an area that is moist and gets approximately 3 hours of day of afternoon sun. During rain storms this garden is in a low area...
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Washington, DC
Smarty Plants on invasive and exotic plant species
Where can I go to learn more about invasive and exotic plant species?
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Washington, DC
Native plants for pots for wedding in November
Will any of the plants that are in your big plant sale be flowering in November? I am looking for plants that would do well in pots because I'd like to use them as center pieces at a wedding (in Aus...
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Washington, DC
Broad leaved evergreens for DC
We are looking for a flowering evergreen shrub, native to the mid-Atlantic, that grows in part shade but will tolerate full sun. We have been researching rhododendrons and azaleas but are concerned a...
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Washington, DC
Flower sucession for Washington DC
Interplanting to cover up spring ephemerals. When bulbs/spring ephemerals (camassia, bluebells, etc.) are dying back, their wilting leaves don't look so great. What can I plant to minimize the me...
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Washington, DC
Smarty Plants on Invasive Plants
How bad are invasive species?
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Washington, DC
Smarty Plants Exotic Species
What Makes an Exotic Species Invasive? (When is a Guest a Pest?)
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Washington, DC
Smarty Plants Exotic Species
What is an Exotic Species?
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Washington, DC
Plants for small shady area with clay soil
Many people have space between the sidewalk and the street in front of their homes. In that space in front of our house is a growing maple that provides a lot of shade. The space is very dry, with...
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Washington, DC
Native alternative for liriope
I am looking for native alternatives to liriope for use in sun to part shade, moderate moisture planting beds. Would prefer evergreen options.
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Washington, DC
Small Yard Tree for Washington DC
What do you suggest for a tree or shrub in my front yard? The yard is small; 9 ft x 12 ft. Thank you.
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Washington, DC
Need suggestions for alternatives for Crape Myrtle in Washington, DC.
What can you recommend as native alternatives to the shorter (garden-sized) crape myrtle cultivars?
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Washington, DC
Butterfly plants for Washington DC area
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am a teacher working with very young students to establish a wildlife garden. We received a donated butterfly bush of a smallish cultivar, but wondering if there is a native...
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