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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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Muskegon, MI
Toxicity of catalpa wood?
Is the sawdust from cutting up a catalpa tree or the smoke from burning the wood toxic? Thank you,
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Grand Haven, MI
Native grasses for lawn in Michigan
I want to plant a lawn of grasses that are native to Michigan specifically. My soil is a little sandy in some spots and is moderately moist. I have been researching on the internet and I *think* tha...
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Grand Haven, MI
Plants for retention ponds in Grand Haven, MI
I am president of a condo association. We have three retention ponds on the property. From two of them we pump water for irrigation so the water level goes up and down. We are going to try to stabiliz...
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New Era, MI
Identification of plant resembling garlic mustard, but with purple flowers
While searching for the invasive garlic mustard I am finding a very similar looking plant (triangular, alternate, toothed leaves; four petals, same habitat of shaded roadside and interior woods) excep...
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Grant, MI
Smarty Plants on pruning Clematis
I would like to know about pruning clematis. The one I have is getting very large. Should I cut it back, and if so, in the Spring or Fall? I live in Michigan. Thank you.
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Newaygo, MI
Finding plants to thrive under white pines in Newaygo, MI
Would you please explain why plants do not grow or grow well under white pines or other evergreens? Are there any ground covers that would thrive under a white pine?
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Shelby Twp, MI
Removal of invasive horsetail in Shelby Township, MI
Please help me or direct me to who may be able to help. I have horsetail (Equisetum) invading my Blue Rug Juniper. Please tell me what I can use to get rid of the horsetail (Equisetum) without killi...
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Walker, MI
Winter snow and road salt in Michigan
I have been asked to select plants for an area in zone5/6 that suffers from snow load and street salt during winters. The area is about 15x18 and has a deciduous tree in the center. Grass, which did ...
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Holland, MI
Plant identification
Found in a cedar swamp near Wolverine Michigan. Large dinner plate size flat green leaf on a mottled green and brown fleshy stem of about 8 or 10 inches. I first thought it was a tri-leaf plant but it...
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Jenison, MI
Smarty Plants on Germination
I just planted wildflowers and I was wondering how long before I know if they will grow?
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Grand Rapids , MI
Can a madrone be used as a house plant from Grand Rapids MI
Can a madrone tree be used as a house plant in Michigan? It is about 10" tall in a gal pot. Can a couple of trees be planted together to become one larger house plant? it's currently in a clay mix.
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Wyoming, MI
Lantana trees in Wyoming MI
We love lantana with its multicolored flowers. This weekend we visited Michigan State University and saw "lantana trees".They were amazing!! Have these trees been grown from the annual plant we have...
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Pentwater, MI
Does music affect sunflower growth from Pentwater MI
Does music affect sunflower growth?
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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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Caledonia, MI
Black coloration on Star Magnolia is probably sooty mold.
I have a star magnolia where 90% of the bark has turned black. It almost looks burned. The tree has decent buds set for next spring. What is causing the bark to turn black?
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Custer, MI
Insects in non-native weeping willow
My weeping willow is dropping small black insects. Thousands of 1/16" cover the ground etc. Insects stain a raspberry, purple color when smashed. Insects are very soft.Insects present about 3 weeks...
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Paris, MI
A list of bloom times for wildflowers in Michigan
Hello, I am new to bee keeping and live in central Michigan. Can you tell me or do you know where I could find a list of the Michigan wild flower bloom times? This would be very helpful to me. Than...
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Canadian Lakes, MI
Deer-resistant native plants for Michigan
I am looking for a deer-resistant ground cover for a mid-to-northern Michigan (lower peninsula), which can grow in completely sandy soil. Thanks for any advice.
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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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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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Lake Odessa, MI
Identity of a plant with yellow flowers in Michigan.
Would you know what this perennial is? The plant has a reddish colored stem, the leaves are long and narrow, approx 31/2 inches long, and 1/2 to 3/4 inch across. The buds are long approx 2 inches, a...
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