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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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Sugar Camp,Rhinelander, WI
Willows native to Wisconsin
I have a small garden center in the far northern reaches of Wisconsin....and I specialize in native varieties for up here. I also help folks with lake shore restoration and preservation. There was...
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Rhinelander, WI
Plants for a shady hillside in WI
I would like to know what kind of plants I could plant on a northern exposure hillside to stop erosion. At the bottom of the hill is a lake. Also would putting rocks from the area as natural retaining...
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Woodruff, WI
Fall blooming native Texas wildflowers
Hello, Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm a writer working on a historical set in TX in 1821 in the fall. My characters travel from the piney woods in east TX to the South Plain around San Antonio in Sept and e...
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Wausau, WI
Want to create a native wildlife habitat for our home in Wasau, WI.
I am trying to create a native wildlife habitat for our home. We live in Marathon County, Wisconsin (north central Wisconsin). We live near woods, meadow, wetlands. Could you send me a list of nativ...
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Wausau, WI
Planting iris rhizomes in Wisconsin
I live in central WI and was given some iris bulbs (think they are called Rhizomes) and have no idea how to go about planting them. I am very new to planting so step by step instructions with good de...
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Ironwood, MI
Prunus subhirtella deer resistance in Ironwood MI
Is the double flowering prunus pendula subhirtella deer "food"?
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Covington, MI
Mystery shrub in Michigan
I live in the upper peninsula of Michigan and noticed a shrub in the woods that has large clusters of small red, what I would call berries on it. Can you give me some n...
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Shawano, WI
Information about Rose Twisted-Stalk
Dear Mr.(?) Smarty Plants- I LOVE your name! I cannot find the plant I'm looking to identify in your collection. I saw it in a wildflower book as: Rose Twisted-Stalk. Sprin...
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Stevens Point, WI
Should I Prune Oak Trees in February in Wisconsin?
I need to cut some oak branches but am worried about oak wilt. You told an earlier questioner not to cut in February. I live in Wisconsin and it has been very cold lately. Am I okay to cut the bran...
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Kingsley, MI
Rooting house plants
Hello Mr SP: I've had Philodendron house plants (many) for years now, because they're easy to grow & that's about my style. Years ago I tried to grow a new plant from a cutting off of one, but it...
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Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Bulbils on Turks cap lily
My Turks cap lily has dark pea size growths at the bass of each leaf. Are these the seeds? How and when do I harvest seeds from this plant?
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Black Creek, WI
Short flowering plant that will grow in sand in Black Creek WI
I would like to know what kind of flowering plant would grow good in sand? A short plant.
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Nekoosa, WI
Mystery Ground Cover in WI
I am trying to identify a ground cover plant that has started growing in my yard (I'm in central Wisconsin). It is very short, only about 1-2 inches tall and is very thick covering the ground. It h...
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Iron River, WI
Wildflowers blooming in northern Wisconsin in July from Iron River WI
What wildflowers are in bloom late July in northern Wisconsin, in the Bayfield and Douglas counties?
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Appleton, WI
Effect on taste of honey from pollen gathered by honeybees in Appleton WI
in the flower box.. We are planting perennial or self-planting annuals on our fields and open areas to feed honey bees for our apiary. We found a source and then lost it telling what effect these wil...
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Ellison Bay, WI
Native flowers for Door County, Wisconsin
We recently were required to put in a new septic system on our vacation property in Door County, WI. This left us with a clearing on our wooded lot where the septic field is now located. The installer...
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Hancock, WI
Plant identification
I am looking for the name of plant my Grandma used to own. She always referred to it as a spider plant. The green part of the plant looked very similar to a spider plant but growing around the base of...
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Little Chute, WI
Native trees or shrubs for containers on roof in Wisconsin
Looking for native trees/shrubs to be planted in containers on a flat roof w/south-southeast exposure. Gets pretty warm in the summer and pretty cold in the winter. How big would the container have to...
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Sturgeon Bay, WI
Wilting of Mountain Ash in Wisconsin
What type of disease would cause a Mountain Ash to entirely wilt? The bark on bottom of tree is opening up and is spongy feeling. No sign of any disease until last month and it quickly wilted with b...
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Chippewa Falls, WI
When to Collect Rudbeckia triloba Seed?
How soon after flowering may I cut Rudbeckia triloba flower heads to save seeds? Do cones need to be attached to the plant in or out of the ground to continue to mature?
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Chippewa Falls, WI
Planting instructions for Ilex verticillata in Wisconsin
We have a winterberry tree and we would like to grow another one in a different area. Can we transplant part of that or do we need to start from scratch? How would we know what the male plant looks li...
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