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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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Paw Paw, MI
Plant identification
Hi, I live in South West Michigan and there is this plant I can't figure out. It has oval leaves in a row on each side of its stems, large thorns, and when the plant is grown it has what seems to be...
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Bloomingdale, MI
Pruning Roughleaf dogwood
We put 5 rough-leaf dogwoods along our side deck; having been told (by the local, natural plant seller) that they would reach a maximum height of 6 feet. They have grown taller than that (despite som...
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Kalamazoo, MI
Iris brevicaulis in Southwest Michigan
We live in Kalamazoo, MI (Southwest Michigan Zone 6) and discovered last year that we have an iris brevicaulis (we think) growing (and very pretty) on our property. It has the "zig zag" stem. It see...
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Kalamazoo, MI
Resprouting of native prairie plants after snowstorm
Will my prairie plants that have broken dormancy be harmed by a spring snowstorm? Temperatures have fallen down into the twenties and forecast to stay sub-freezing for five or six days. We have abou...
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PORTAGE, MI
Small perennials & grasses for a naturalized lawn
I am looking for native perennials and grasses that will grow no more than 8 inches tall that can be used in a naturalized lawn in Michigan. What 5 plants would be your first choice?
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Dowagiac, MI
Native ground cover for part shade in Dowagiac MI
Maybe I'm just too picky. I'm trying to make an area that is some what triangular shaped between my house and garage with a tall lattice/privacy fence on one side and walks in the back yard area on...
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Plainwell, MI
Invasive silverleaf nightshade in Plainwell MI
Solanum elaeagnifolium Cav. Silverleaf nightshade, Silver-leaf nightshade, White horse nettle. We purchased our land and built here 3 years ago. I have these all over my 30 acres of land including ...
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Three Rivers, MI
Watering Houseplants with Soapy Water
I accidentally watered my house plants with a container that had a some dishsoap in it. Will they be okay? One of the plants is a 20yr old cactus, with small roots.
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Three Rivers, MI
Plant identification in Michigan
We are trying to identify a plant in our yard. It is seven inches tall in May, grows to about knee high, has red leaves, flowers in late June, early July. The flower is light pink. It is a perennia...
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Richland, MI
Lemon cypress Goldcrest in Richland MI
Can the shrub lemon cypress survive a southern Michigan winter? If so, how does one care for it?
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Berrien Springs, MI
Plants for Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterflies in Michigan
I am wanting to raise Painted Lady butterflies and release them into my garden. I know that they like to eat Mallow plants, but I was wondering what kind of Mallow plant would be best for my garden?
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Berrien Springs, MI
Plant identification
I found a plant on a small island about the size of a hand. It is spring so plant is just coming out of the ground. It is wrapped around a bulb/flower light color with little knobs on it. The outsi...
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Benton Harbor, MI
Ground cover to withstand dog traffic in Michigan
I need a soft ground cover that will grow in sand, and be able to take four big dogs that love to run in the yard. Grass just doesn't make it. Someone suggested that groundcover might work. Thanks...
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Edwardsburg, MI
Non-native fountain grass for Edwardsburg MI
I purchased a purple fountain grass by a vendor @ the Plymouth, IN blueberry festival. He told me that it is a perennial. I live in Edwardsburg, MI and I keep reading that in my area, they are consi...
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Edwardsburg, MI
Plant identification
My brother in law just bought a parcel of land that is bespeckled with shrubs we cannot identify. The land is located in south west Michigan. It is zoned agricultural. Due to the fact that it is ea...
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Edwardsburg, MI
Smarty Plants on wisteria
A friend has a wisteria bush in his yard that was planted around 1950 by his mother. It has yellow blossoms. He has been told many times by people passing by (they stop to look at the plant) that the...
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Delton, MI
Plant Identification
We have 105 acres in Mid Michigan. Part of this land is marshland. There is a plant-flower that I have never seen before and no one knows what it is. It is on a long stem with long skinny leaves (2...
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Niles, MI
Covering dead arborvitae with non-native ivy from Niles MI
I have a severely thinning arborvitae hedge. It is probably too shady, but I want the privacy. I'm thinking of planting something like ivy to fill the gaps. I know it will probably kill the hedge, bu...
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Saugatuck, MI
Transplanting trilliums
What's the best time to transplant white trillium on my property on the shore of Lake Michigan?
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Battle Creek, MI
Orange/yellow fungus on a dead oak
I have a large dead oak tree which has an orange/yellow fungus growing at the base and also high on a spot where a branch had broken off. I've read a couple of things from the internet about this fun...
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Elkhart, IN
Culture of Polytaenia nuttallii, Prairie Parsley
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