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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

Houston , TX
Hurricane damage on oak in Houston
We have a very large oak tree that survived our last hurricane with lots of lost limbs. Then there was the drought. We have lost three large limbs on separate occasions on non-windy days. I love this ...
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Houston, TX
Mowable grass to grow under pecan trees in Houston, Texas.
I read your answer on grasses that will grow under pecans, but Iím looking for a grass that will blend in a bit with the rest of our St. Augustine grass yard. Something I can mow. Our pecan trees are ...
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Houston, TX
Native grasses for central Georgia
We've just bought a 1990 circa house in Dallas, Georgia. It sits on a .62 acre lot. One half of the lot is woods, the rest is lawn. The lawn is covered mostly with weeds and wild strawberries. ...
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Houston, TX
Doodlebugs in dead area of Coral Bean from Houston
I have a Firemans coralbean tree about 5 years old. I discovered yesterday in the middle of the tree there is some deadwood where we have pruned out branches. A couple of the branches were filled with...
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Houston, TX
Can Dicentra exemia survive in Texas from Houston
Is the Houston/Austin area too hot to grow "Bleeding Hearts" dicentra eximia (King of Hearts) They seem to grow in the wild in Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee.
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Houston, TX
Shrubs for fenceline in Houston
I live in Houston, TX and would like your suggestion on what plants, trees or shrubs would work best to grow alongside a fence to hide a neighbor's backyard. We all have relatively small backyards.
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Houston, TX
Will Salvia coccinea bloom in shade in Houston?
I live in Houston and I used your database tool to search for shade plants. I am particularly interested in plants that bloom and support native pollinators. My search returned salvia coccinea. Will t...
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Houston, TX
Plant identification for Beeville, TX
Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, I just saw this question on your web site: "Today in Beeville, TX I came across a plant that looks like a grass, but has a small black and white dotted flower. The flower lo...
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Houston, TX
Plants for shaded area under pecan trees
The east side of our Houston home has a 15 foot strip overhung with pecan trees. The shade by the start of summer is so dense that grass dies pretty quickly. I'd like to keep enough grass for the k...
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Houston, TX
Need a shade tree to plant in Houston, TX
Hi, i'm looking for a shade tree to plant on the southwest side of our house, both to make our backyard more enjoyable and to improve energy efficiency. We really like Live Oaks, but they just take t...
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Houston, TX
Groundcover called Jumping Jacks
My neighbor has a beautiful ground cover and she doesn't know the name and I have searched the nurseries and internet and can not find it. She says it spreads like crazy and when she was young they c...
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Houston, TX
Caterpillars on Carolina buckthorn (Frangula caroliniana)
I have a Carolina buckthorn and last year there were interesting looking caterpillars munching on the leaves. They were camouflaged to look a bit like bird droppings. The plant database makes no ment...
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Houston, TX
Colorful native plants for oak tree shade in Houston
I live in Houston Tx - our subdivision entrance has many oak trees. We cannot find anything that will "stay alive" around these trees. It is mostly shady, but gets a slight bit of sunlight. we wo...
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Houston, TX
Disposal of non-native invasive Houttuynia cordata
I am a homeower in The Woodlands with a very difficult problem in my butterfly garden. I have an impossibly invasive weed that I cannot get rid of -- so much so that I'm thinking of just paving ov...
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Houston, TX
Comparison of native turf with St. Augustine and Kentucky bluegrass
The native turf page mentions outperforming Bermuda grass, St. Augustine, and Kentucky blue, but the graphs only compare the natives to Bermudagrass. How do the native mixes stand up to St. Augustine...
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Houston, TX
Pruning Post Oaks
I live in Houston and have two post oaks. One is right by my house. I'd like to trim them but was told they are sensitive and might die if I trim them. Is this true? What is the right course of ac...
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Houston, TX
Strappy leaves on rudbeckias from Houston
My Rudbeckias keep sending up odd shoots with strappy leaves on them. Should these be cut off? What is their purpose?
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Houston, TX
Encouraging bloom on non-native Batwing Erythrina
Hi! I have a Batwing Erythrina in the ground next to my driveway in full sun in Houston. It's nine years old and is about twenty feet tall, but it does not bloom. What can I do? Thanks for your s...
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Houston, TX
Need Plants and Soil for a Green Roof in Buffalo, TX
I'm building a green roof on my cabin in the Buffalo, Texas, area. Would you know what soil and plants would be best suited for that area? I have a lot of sand I could use, but didn't know if that...
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Houston, TX
Soil Loosener/Pollinator Plants for Houston
I am trying to establish a mostly-native pollinator way-station in a recently purchased lot in a 100 year old neighborhood in Houston. Much of the property has a thick layer of oyster shell four to si...
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Houston, TX
Noise reduction hedge row in Houston
We live just one house back from the freeway and would like to plant a fast growing noise reduction 'hedge row' - close growing to 20-40 ft. We are looking at Leyland Cypress but know they aren't n...
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