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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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Questions From Near You

Alexis, IL
Plant identfication
We have red pointed things growing wild in our yard. About the size of an index finger. They just pop up after a rain. Are they poisonous? We have pets.
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Sherrard, IL
Reproduction of purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
What is the reproduction of a Purple Coneflower?
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Rock Island, IL
Fall care for Fan Scarlet lobelia in Rock Island IL
What do I do with Scarlet Fan lobelia in the fall; do I cut it back or let it go as is?
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Rock Island, IL
Possible cinnamon-scented plants in Mississippi delta
I used to live in Mississippi and now live in Illinois. I am trying to find what plant or tree has a strong cinnamon-like scent that fills the air. I noticed this scent driving through the delta in Mi...
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Silvis, IL
Drawings of Illinois native wildflowers
I am looking for line drawings of Illinois Native Wildflowers to use for educational material for visitors to our new City Park. We plan to have signs throughout the park describing how Native Americ...
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LeClaire, IA
Controlling poison oak or poison ivy in Iowa
We recently purchased a property that is VERY wooded and has been vacant for two yrs. with little upkeep previously. We have (we were told) l00 yr old poison oak vines hanging from trees. We hired so...
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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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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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Mt Pleasant , IA
Plant identification
Mr. Smarty Plants, My neighbor gave me a plant that is about 3 foot tall, has a main stalk, and leaves that produce small “baby” plants at the edge of the leaves. These plants grow roots and once dev...
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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
Orange and fuschia flowers on bushes in Maine
I recently visited Portland,ME from end of May to the second week in June. many of the homes had these beautiful flowering bushes next to the houses. The flowers grew in clusters similar to hydrangeas...
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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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Chillicothe, IL
Wintering non-native liriope spicata indoors in Chillicothe IL
I live in zone 5, zip 62523, wintering liriope spicata starter plants in basement, ambient consistent. Do I need grow lamps or is the plant satisfied being dormant as long as I do not let it dry out? ...
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Clinton, IA
Grasses for Erosion control in Iowa
We have a sloping yard in the midwest that gets 2-4 hours of sun during the warm weather. When we have large rainfalls, the water just pours down the slope causing a lot of erosion to the surrounding ...
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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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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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Iowa City, IA
Why are there no low-mow lawn grasses composed of only native fescues?
Dear SP, Most blends of ecograss I see are a combination of non-native and native fescues (and sometimes buffalo grass, blue grama, etc.). Why are there (apparently) none that are composed entirely of...
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Iowa City, IA
Alternative for sedges for turf-like lawn in shade
When it comes to a turf-like lawn in shade, is it pretty much sedges or nothing among native options? By the way, I write from up north here in Iowa. Thanks!
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Iowa City, IA
Is Milium effusum 'aureum' native to North America from Iowa City, IA
I have seen the cultivar grass milium effusm aureum described as a native of both Europe and the N. America. Both continents HAVE a subspecies of m. effusum. Which is more accurate; is MEA a cultivar ...
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Iowa City, IA
What to do about grass dying under pin oaks in Iowa
We have 2 pin oaks about 15 years old in our front yard. The grass has started dying out under and around them. What can we do?
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