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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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Springfield, IL
Moving a volunteer holly from Springfield IL
When would be the very best time to move a volunteer holly? I would say it is 3 years old, it stands about 5 feet tall, shaped like a very nice tree and it keeps its leaves. Thank you. Karen
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Springfield, IL
What is composted mulch from Springfield IL
I love the look of hard wood mulch. It is my understanding that this wood mulch that is so readily available in bulk and bags is not "composted mulch". I have been told that this type of mulch pull...
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Springfield, IL
Failure of fragrance in Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus floridus) in Illinois
I have a sweet shrub bush that I took from the root of another one. Every year it blooms but never has even a smidgen of fragrance. The bush it came from was very fragrant. Should I do something to th...
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Springfield, IL
Can rose Zephirine Drouhin damage brick from Springfield IL
Can ZÉPHIRINE DROUHIN damage brick?
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Springfield, IL
Why aren't all blue spruce trees blue?
I have been looking at blue spruce trees recently and I have noticed at a couple tree farms that not all blue spruce look blue at all. Some that are listed as Co. Blue Spruce are very green. The sha...
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Raymond, IL
Death of mature tulip tree in Raymond IL
We have a mature tulip tree that leafed out and looked very healthy then all of the leaves turned brown and fell off. I think the tree is now dead. We live in the country and have a corn field behind ...
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Decatur, IL
Installation of a bioswale in Decatur IL
I want to install a bioswale in a 15' wide, 50' long ditch on a relatively steep hill. The ditch already has rip rap in it. Do I need to remove all the rip rap before starting construction, or can...
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Maroa, IL
Tall lily with dark berry at leaf attachment
A lily showed up in my flower garden last year (central Illinois); about 3' tall, a single dark berry at the stem where each leaf is attached. It didn't flower. This year it's approaching 4' tall ...
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Pana, IL
Plants for area with occasional standing water in Illinois
..similar to the question posed by the Aurora, Illinois bioswale on 11/30/2009 - I am an architect who designed the reconstruction of a historic structure in Pana, Illinois and have an area that is ap...
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Litchfield, IL
Plants to prevent erosion in IL
We just got done building a house and have leveled all of the dirt piles. We do have a row of straw bales to help prevent the dirt from washing onto the neighbors property. It is the wrong time of ye...
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Argenta, IL
Transplanting honeysuckle bush in Illinois
Want to transplant 3 honeysuckle shrubs 10 to 12' tall this month, although not the best time. Please advise.
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Ipava, IL
Plants for erosion control in IL
Steep 40ft slope in rural Illinois with Sandy soil. Recently several trees slid down this slope due to wet conditions. We need any inexpensive plants to hold the hillside in check before erosion creep...
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Pekin, IL
Plant identification and advice about moving it
I have a plant (a thick stalk about 4 foot tall with yellow flowers on it) that blooms in the morning and the flowers fall off at night. I have searched for info on this plant and have come up short. ...
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Mackinaw, IL
Bald cypress trees for yard in Mackinaw IL
We are looking at planting a few bald cypress trees in our front yard. I have heard of the extensive root system that these trees have and wonder how far away from a septic system and the house found...
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Danvers, IL
Growing a non-native lemon tree in Central Illinois
How to grow a lemon tree in Central Illinois? Which one would be the best to grow?
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Canton, IL
Propagation of native Ohio buckeye from seed
My granddaughter has collected "buck eyes"; can we plant them to start our own tree? If so, how do we go about it!
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Creve Coeur, IL
Seedlings of elm trees in Illinois
I have what I believe to be young elm trees sprouting throughout my front yard. I will pull them up and over night more sprout and will be 5+ inches tall. I would like to know how to get rid of them, ...
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Bloomington, IL
Varieties of Ceanothus suitable for Illinois
Ceanothus Velutinus is the smell of western Montana, my home, to me, and I have relocated to Illinois. I miss it so much that whenever I go home I bring back a jar of ceanothis leaves and keep th...
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Peoria, IL
Plant identification from Peoria IL
I removed a plant from our workplace that employees were afraid was hallucinogenic seeds. Central Illinois. Very purple stem. Purple flowers. Black seeds. Any ideas?
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Peoria, IL
Plants to hide utility boxes
What are suggestions for plants to plant around utilities boxes (3 of them clustered together) to effectively camouflage them but be attractive. We will outline a larger area in brick, plant evergree...
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Peoria, IL
Tree for wet area in Central Illinois
I live in Central Illinois. When it rains I get a lot of water in my backyard. What kind of tree would be best to plant in this wet area?
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