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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

Whitehall, PA
Native Tree for Narrow Space in PA
I have a narrow space along my cedar fence in full sun. A Japanese maple approximately 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide is failing there due to winter rodent damage to its base. I would like to replace i...
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Whitehall, PA
Cork Screw Rush doesn't spiral in Whitehall, PA.
Why won't the stems on my cork screw rush plant twist and/or spiral? It's planted outside. It was twisting and spirally when I planted it. Growing outside the past 4 years but does not twist or curl l...
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Whitehall, PA
Evergreen for privacy in PA
We need to plant a privacy/sound barrier hedge/hedgerow and my husband says it must be evergreen. I am not familiar with which species would be native to our area and I just don't trust those big sto...
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Mount Lebanon, PA
GMO/GE crops killing wildflowers and insects
Hi, I've read where GMO/GE crops in other countries were killing the wildflowers and insects adjacent to those fields. Have you had any reports of this North America. Best regards.
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Pittsburgh, PA
Retention of soil on bank in Pittsburgh, PA
I have a steep bank in front of our house in Pittsburgh. We no longer want to mow this bank and wish to plant something that will spread and hold the soil. What do you recommend?
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Pittsburgh, PA
Transplanting a Century Plant in Pennsylvania
When is the best time to transplant a Century Plant?
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Pittsburgh, PA
Plant for deep shade in Pennsylvania
Hi! I am landscaping our house and trying to use only plants that provide seasonal benefit to bees, butterflies, birds etc. not the deer though. My question is that I have a fairly steep slope of abou...
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Pittsburgh, PA
Low-growing lawn substitute for Pennsylvania
Hello Mr. Smarty Plants Please help. We are moving to an old farm house in Western Pennsylvania with several acres of lawn. Our plan is to return much of the land to wildlife friendly meadows and woo...
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Pittsburgh, PA
Source for a soapberry in Pittsburgh PA
Flower box Where can I buy a soapberry tree in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania?
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Pittsburgh, PA
Deer resistant plants for campground in West Virginia
We spend the summers at a campground as permanent campers. We fix up our sites to be a pleasure to spend our time smelling and see the wild life come and perch around the area. We would like to know...
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Pittsburgh, PA
First spring wildflower to bloom in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
In Pittsburgh PA what spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom?
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Pittsburgh, PA
Deer resistant plants for erosion control on steep hill
I would like control a steep hill behind my house that is red clay, northern exposure with little sun. What plants would you recommend that deer will not eat?
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Pittsburgh, PA
Plant identification
My son has some kind of plants, weeds, or ground cover in his yard that smell like spicy meat. When the wind blows the right way it smells like he's been grilling kolbasi on his deck/in his house. ...
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Pittsburgh, PA
Non-native and/or hybridized shrubs in Pittsburg PA
I planted 2 boulevard cypress pom pom trees last year in my front yard in the clay conditioned soil. We dug the tree holds according to the planting instruction and filled some sand in the bottom for ...
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Pittsburgh, PA
Deer resistant plants for Pittsburgh PA
What shrubs can I plant on a wet slope that gets partial sun that will help control erosion? They need to be something the deer won't eat! We have lots of deer.
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Pittsburgh, PA
June bug larvae destroying Red Twig Dogwood in Pittsburgh, PA
June Bug larvae are destroying my Red Twig Dogwood. I have treated with Milky Spore, but the long wait for benefit is too long to save the ailing plant. What can I do? HELP! Thank you from the bot...
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Pittsburgh, PA
Leaves on maple turning red in June in Pittsburgh PA
We live in PA and have a medium sized maple tree in our back yard. It is not a red maple. This year, in June, the very top of the tree's foliage turned bright red. This bright red started at the t...
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Pittsburgh, PA
Plants for the Shade of a Pine Tree in Pittsburg
I live in Pittsburgh, PA. My neighbor has a huge pine tree. Last year everything I planted on that side near the tree died. That part of the yard only gets morning sun, as the tree overshadows it. Wha...
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Pittsburgh, PA
Plant identification
I love around Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and I saw a strange plant. It has a soft green outer shell, a harder thinner shell inside, points, but aren't pointy, and a white substance out of the stem when...
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Pittsburgh, PA
Planting turf grass in PA
Is it too late to plant new grass in mid October in Pittsburg? Should I wait until Spring at this point?
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Pittsburgh, PA
Cinnamon scented plant growing along Pennsylvania rivers
I've walked along both the Youghiogheny and Monongahela Rivers around my hometown and I've noticed moments at which time I would smell the strong, sweet aroma of cinnamon. Given the riverside envir...
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