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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.

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mcdonald, PA
Can plants in the same genus cross-pollinate?
Can you cross-pollinate plants from the same genus?
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Burgettstown, PA
Yellow and purple wildflowers for a wedding in Burgettstown PA
I'm not sure exactly what I am looking for and I'm sorry if its too much to ask but....I want to have a fun relaxed wedding next June or July time. I can't find wildflowers that would bloom during...
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Burgettstown, PA
Removal of non-native zoysia grass from Burgettstown PA
What is the most effective method of killing zoysia grass? We bought a house that sits in the center of four acres of mature zoysia. It looks beautiful, however, despite our best efforts at "weeding...
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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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Moon Twp, PA
Plants to hold a slope in Western PA
We have a hillside that keeps moving/sliding due to lack of vegetation. What kind of ground covering can we plant to help maintain and stabilize the hillside? If you need to know the climate here, we...
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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
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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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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Pittsburgh, PA
Plants for erosion control in Pittsburgh, PA
I have a terraced high side lot(front of house). I currently have Yuccas growing, but they are too invasive. Can you suggest plants, shrubs, or ground covers that are not as invasive and will still ...
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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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Pittsburgh, PA
Transplanting a Century Plant in Pennsylvania
When is the best time to transplant a Century Plant?
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Pittsburgh, PA
Protection of American beautyberry in Pennsylvania
I have had a beauty berry 2 years now. I trim it back in early spring and it returns beautifully. ...but no flowers this year and it's almost August. Last year, very few berries. Can you help? I...
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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
Deer resistant plants for Pittsburgh PA
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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
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
Ground cover for high traffic area in Pennsylvania
I am wondering if there is a Pennsylvania native turf like grass/plant that can withstand a lot of foot traffic (public area with lots of children). This will be used in a formal setting so will need ...
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Pittsburgh, PA
Propagating trees in Pennsylvania
I have been wanting to plant trees at our family camp for quite a few years now to help provide food for the wildlife during in preparation for the cold winters. As a college student, however, both f...
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Pittsburgh, PA
Bugbane Leaf Blotch
My bugbanes (Cimicifuga/Actaea) seem to suffer from black blotches on the leaves in the summer. This happens even when they have adequate moisture. I also see it on the ones growing wild. Is this a fu...
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Pittsburgh, PA
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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
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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