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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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Economy, IN
Striped caterpillars on Cornus sericea (redtwig dogwood)
My red-twig dogwood has white/black striped caterpillars that congregate on the underside of the leaves and they are stripping the leaves. What can I do? They almost look like Monarch butterfly larvae...
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Albany, IN
Living fence to contain sheep in Indiana
I would like to plant a living fence that would also contain sheep. I have researched this but I cannot find a definite list of trees or shrubs to use. Do you have any suggestions?
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Knightstown, IN
Plant identification
I found a low-growing plant with thick spoon shaped light green leaves. It was growing in the edged of a lawn, The leaves almost look like they have fine white hairs on them. It is very pretty, but wh...
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Pendleton, IN
Blooming but not berrying American bittersweet from Pendleton IN
I have had a bittersweet plant for years, it blooms but not berries. How do I tell if it is male or female so I can buy the opposite? It is currently blooming.
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Troy, OH
Late leafing and early leaf-drop of Ohio buckeye tree
We recently bought a house which has an ohio buckeye tree in the back yard. It stands about 40 feet from a large creek in Troy, Ohio. The tree is about 30 feet tall. A strip of the bark is missing....
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Noblesville, IN
Non-native crape myrtles in Noblesville IN
Can Crepe Myrtle trees be grown in Noblesville IN 46060? I believe we are zone five.
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Noblesville, IN
Small native shrub for Noblesville In
Is there a small shrub native to central Indiana that is suitable for front yard city landscaping?
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Dayton, OH
Failure to bloom of non-native viburnum in Dayton, Ohio
I have a 3 year old Marie's Doublefire Viburnum that has healthy, abundant foliage but never blooms. I do not prune it. What am I doing wrong? Thanks
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Fishers, IN
Deadheading Asclepias tuberosa in Fishers IN
My Asclepias tuberosa plants are flowering well in their second year and also have formed many seed pods. Since I don't need the seeds, will they bloom more if I remove them or is it unnecessary?
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Fishers, IN
Alder native to Central Indiana
I am trying to find out whether there exists a plant named Alnus rugosa. I bought a plant recently that said Speckled Alder, Alnus serrulata (rugosa), but have been unable to determine if this is a c...
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Cicero, IN
Getting Tradescantia (spiderwort) to stand up straight in Indiana
Is there a way to keep Tradescantia plants on a thicker base so as not to fall over? Mine are spreading like wild fire, but most fall over and look like weeds.
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Fairfield, OH
Plant identification
I live outside of Cincinnati and I have a bush that has long yellowish leaves that grow like a spider plant. Just recently long purple things have grown in the middle of them. Is this normal or should...
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Carmel, IN
Need evergreen hedge and groundcover for shade in Carmel, Indiana
Our property is bounded by a fencerow that is wooded and mostly shaded by mulberry and hackberry trees during the growing months. We'd like to create a 5'+ tall evergreen barrier on the property li...
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Beavercreek, OH
Identification of fast-growing weeds with orange flowers
I have fast growing plants (weeds?) in my heavily wooded backyard. They reach heights of over 6 ft and have orange flowers. I have spent hours searching the web today with no success -the closest thin...
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Flat Rock, IN
Smarty Plants on CRABGRASS
I live in Indiana and purchased native wildflower seeds from the soil and conservation district in my area. I completly tilled the 10x70 foot patch and planted the seeds as directed. Some of them are ...
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Flat Rock, IN
Transplanting Colorado blue spruce in Indiana
I live in Indiana. I have a Colorado blue spruce that I would like to transplant to a different part of my yard. What is the best time of year to transplant it? It is only about two foot tall.
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Indianapolis, IN
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Indianapolis, IN
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We were in Hawaii this summer and became acquainted with the Silversword. This plant (according to what we were told) blooms only once in it's lifetime (of 50-70 years). Are you aware of any other pl...
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Indianapolis, IN
Creating a wildflower meadow
I have an area 1-6 acres worth that is currently grass that I would like to overseed with wildflower seed. The local native plant nursery says that would be a waste. I don't really want to kill gra...
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Indianapolis, IN
Identification of
I'm trying to identify a plant and I'm having trouble doing so. The plant was called moss by my mother,but it looks like a succulent. It grows on the ground and looks like small vines with pink stem...
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Indianapolis, IN
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The city of Indianapolis has a very historic Central Canal, which was built in the 1830s. Due to erosion, the parent company of Indianapolis Water, Veolia, has proposed covering the banks with a type ...
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