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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Hobart, IN
Erosion Control for Shady Ditches
What plants can you recommend for erosion control along shady ditches in Northwest Indiana?
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Portage, IN
Plant ID and pruning in Portage IN
I'm looking for information on trimming a bush about 6 feet in diameter with orange horns in bloom and its name.
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Crown Point, IN
Move Roses or Ornamental Grasses in Crown Point, Indiana
I have two ornamental grasses that grew real wide this year. They are blocking three big knock out roses that are four foot tall and four foot wide. My question is which one would be easier to dig up ...
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Porter, IN
Grave plants in Indiana in 1914
I'm doing research on the landscape surrounding an elaborate family cemetery constructed in NW Indiana in 1914. Previous research noted that "grave plants" were planted along the short retaining w...
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Valparaiso, IN
Deer resistant, fast growing trees for screening
Deer resistant, fast growing, native plants (trees) as a visual block.
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dyer, IN
Evergreen ornamental tree choice in northern Indiana
Can you please advise on growing Lemon Cypress trees outdoors in zones 5/6 zip code 46311
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Oak Forest, IL
My Niagara grape cutting is not growing; be patient
Hello. I live in a city about 10 miles from Chicago IL. I like grapes they are my favorate fruit to just eat. I bought a niagara grape plant that was a cutting (it looked like nothing more then a st...
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Tinley Park, IL
Bark damage to Tulip Tree
I have a tulip tree planted. It is about 9-10 years old. Two years ago the tree looked as though the trunk was cracked. Maybe hit by lightning after a storm. This year the bark on the side of tree...
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LaPorte, IN
Plant Identification
I am trying to identify a small tree or large plant here in Indiana. I have seen it from 6 ft to as tall as 15 to 20. It is a green leaf with pink cone shaped growth at the ends of a branch. The co...
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LaPorte, IN
Treating stings from stinging nettles in Indiana
How can I remove hairlike thorns (as from nettle-type weed)? My hands react within 24 hours with swelling and pain, esp in morning. In past when I have then been able to locate the offending thorn, th...
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Oak Lawn, IL
Did my neighbor's zucchini affect my apple tree from Oak Lawn, IL
My neighbor planted zucchini plants near a flowering non-fruit producing apple tree in my yard. Soon afterwards in July the tree began to shed leaves. Could the zucchini plant have caused this?
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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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Palos Heights, IL
Is Viburnum opulus var. americana (Viburnum trilobum) Self-fertile?
I am trying to attract birds to my Chicago area yard and I believe I have good conditions to grow highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum). My question is about the need for cross pollination. The liter...
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Frankfort, IL
Getting rid of wildflowers in Frankfort IL
Can you tell us how to get rid of wildflowers? We have wildflowers on the side of our pond and we want to plant sod next year.Should we cut them down this year and use a vegetation killer? We have fi...
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Burbank, IL
Small flowering tree for Burbank IL
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Chicago, IL
Plant Identification
Hi- I am currently am AP Biology student and have two plants left to identify that I found at a lily pool in Chicago. Can you help me identify them? One I believe is a fern, the other a flower. Th...
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Chicago , IL
Smarty Plants on women trying to conceive
RE: Eucalyptus. Is this bad for women trying to conceive? The smell is very powerful.
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Chicago, IL
Is resurrection plant (Selaginella lepidophylla) toxic?
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Chicago, IL
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Chicago, IL
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Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, After much online research, my property has been invaded by what I believe to be Persicaria polygonum punctata, more commonly known as dotted smartweed. I have tried hortic...
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Chicago, IL
Plant ID from Chicago
This plant is VERY common along highways across the entire midwest, and often other parts of the country. It has a long stem with a cluster of white flowers usually only on the top of the stem. The le...
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