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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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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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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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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
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
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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South Bend, IN
What's causing holes in trunk of white oak tree in SouthBend IN?
We have a huge White Oak in our backyard that is approx. 130 years old. This evening I became aware that there are several small holes around the trunk that appear to be oozing a dark sappy liquid. ...
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South Bend, IN
Care of Ecuadorian penco century plant
I was recently given a Penco, Century plant from Ecuador. It doesn't seem to be doing well. Two of the leaves have turned dark, then yellow, and died completely. Five remain, one seems to be dying as...
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Mishawaka, IN
Source for Matelea for Indiana
I have been searching unsuccessfully I might add for a vine species called Matelea. These vines benefit the Monarch butterflies but no butterfly places online carry them. Where would a good place be...
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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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Bridgman, MI
Wild onions in southwest Michigan
During the spring every year there are "Volunteer Onions" that grow in my lawn and garden. I live in Michigan, sw. question---are these onions? what are they--they smell like onions--- can they be e...
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Elkhart, IN
Culture of Polytaenia nuttallii, Prairie Parsley
Polytaenia nuttallii is listed at the Wildflower Center as a biennial. PLANTS database lists it as a perennial. Please clear this up if you can. If I plant this at home with tomato plants will it...
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Elkhart, IN
Flowers under pine trees from Elkhart Indiana
I have a number of pine trees at the back of my lot and would like to plant flowers under the tree. What can I plant?
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Elkhart, IN
Texas Sage in Indiana
I was living in Texas and now I have moved to Indiana. I would love to have some Texas Sage here. is it possible?
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Elkhart, IN
Colorful plants for window boxes in Indiana
I want to find plants with lots of color that will fill two window boxes and trail out of the boxes and look full and nice throughout the summer. I live in Northern Indiana and the window faces south...
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Three Oaks, MI
Identification of thorny vine in Michigan
We have a species growing around our rural SW Michigan property that I'm trying to identify: I either see stalks up to 3 ft tall, or much longer vines if they find anchor. The most notable characte...
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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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New Buffalo, MI
Native plants of dune erosion control in Michigan
We care for Lake Michigan dune near our home in New Buffalo and would like to provide erosion control with native species that will also enhance the beauty of the dune with long lasting flowers. The ...
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New Buffalo, MI
Native plants for backyard in Michigan
I am an inexperienced gardener but would love to know the best plants/bushes to plant in my backyard. I would love floral and fragrant. I am in Southwest Michigan, near New Buffalo and since this is...
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Walkerton, IN
Plants for exotic pets
I need to know what are some good native non-toxic plants for these species: Porcelain roach (Gyna lurida) from Kenya, Africa. Giant cave roach (Blaberus giganteus) from Central and South Americ...
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Grand Beach, MI
climbing vine for growth in sand
I live in Grand Beach, MI. My house sits on a sand dune. I want to plant a flowering vine that will grow up a fence. The area has plenty of sand and I have a trickle watering system. Can you pleas...
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