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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
Huisaches in pots from Houston TX
I have special (and probably weird) affinity to huisaches (acacia farnesiana). As a child I used to admire the three that elegantly guarded our backyard looking almost like fingers reaching for the s...
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Houston, TX
Erosion control for slope to detention pond
We have been required by code to build a detention pond for new church buildings in the Webster, TX (Clear Lake) area. There is a serious erosion of soil from water runoff from the building roof need...
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Houston, TX
Growing native vines in pots from Houston
I am writing in regards to your often mentioned issue of plants not doing as well in pots and in the ground. After last years drought, i moved all the plants I had that were in danger of dying of t...
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houston, TX
Need an evergreen flowering vine to cover a fence in Houston, TX.
Looking for an evergreen flowering vine to cover my fence. caveat? one part of the fence is within 5 feet from the air conditioning unit which blows a lot of hot air, the area takes a day or two to dr...
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Houston, TX
Blocking stolons of St. Augustine grass
I have St. Augustine in my yard, and I am sick of edging the stolons that grow onto the sidewalk and driveway. Is there any way to stop the stolons or block them so that I can just mow and throw away ...
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Houston, TX
Need native plant to stabilize 45 degree slope in Houston, TX.
Can you recommend a native TX plant to be used to stabilize a 45 degree slope in the Houston area? Durability, maintenance and appearance should be considered. Thank You.
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Houston, TX
Plants for shade
I live in hot, humid Houston and the tree coverage of my yard is nearly 100 percent (so, little sunlight reaches the ground). Can you suggest a plant or two that would thrive in these conditions?
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Houston, TX
Failure to thrive of non-native closet plant
I have a closet plant that is not doing well no matter what I do or where I put it. What is the best way to care for one of these beautiful plants?
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Houston, TX
Small, slow-growing native tree for Houston
Can you please recommend a pretty, small, slow growing tree for my bed centerpiece? It gets some sun/partial shade in front of my Houston area north facing home and must survive heat and some drought...
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Houston, TX
Pruning for native oak in Houston
I have an oak tree, and I was wondering if I prune from the top down, would it get fuller at the bottom? Or can you tell me how to prune it? I have been pruning from the bottom up and it is growing ta...
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Houston, TX
Plantings of Castilleja in Texas
I am a graduate student interested in studying different species of paintbrush (Castilleja) in Texas. I understand that the Texas Dept of Transportation has been seeding wildflowers along Texas highwa...
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Houston, TX
Native plants of Taos and Los Alamos NM from Houston
Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, can you recommend a guidebook for the native plants of the Taos/Los Alamos region? (I'm most interested in forbs.) I'll be headed there in May--is there anything I should es...
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Houston, TX
Carolina wolfberry blooms but doesn't produce fruit
I have had my carolina wolfberry for 2 years now ( I got it at the Wildflower center), it seems to be doing well, creeping all over the flower bed with some branches on the ground up to 6 ft long. It ...
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Houston, TX
Texas plants useful to early settlers
I'm working on some interpretation for a prairie heritage trail in SE TX (near Houston). I'd like to know where I can find some good information on plant remedies which might have been used by early...
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Houston, TX
Returning empty landscape to native plants
I live in a subdivision that backs up to a 40 +/- piece of land that is called Texas Safari, I think. Between TS and my fence is a piece of ground about 50-60' wide and 100-150 yards long. Some of th...
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Houston, TX
Information about cenizo care and care of non-native tibouchinas
I just bought some tibouchinas and need some tips. I plan to plant them in an area that gets sun until about 2pm, then shade for the rest of the day. Will these plants thrive in this environment, or w...
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Houston, TX
Is slow growth of young Tx mountain laurel normal?
My Texas mountain laurel is 2 or 3 years old and is about 4 feet tall. It seems quite healthy but has grown very little, if any, and has never bloomed. Is this normal? Although I don't want it to gro...
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Houston, TX
Will Habiturf thrive in Houston?
Will Habiturf grow in partial sun? My lawn is surrounded by trees so that there is only about an hour each day with direct overhead sun. The rest of the day there is a light shade.
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Houston, TX
Problems with non-native Banana Shrub from Houston
My 7' beloved Banana Shrub (magnolia) has white dots on top of the leaves and nasty black stuff covering the backside of the leaves. The plant is dropping leaves. What can I do to save it? I has bee...
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Houston, TX
A Pipevine poisonous to Pipevine Swallowtails
I have heard that a specific Pipevine is poisonous to the larva of Pipevine Swallowtails. Is this true? If so, what is the poisonous species of Pipevine, and what other types can I plant that will not...
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Houston, TX
Native Hill Country grasses, flowers for April garden show
I will be a first ever (!) exhibitor in my garden club's garden show this April 7. Our theme is The Passion of Texas - my specific category is The Hill Country. Help!!! All materials I use must be al...
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