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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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Questions From Near You

Houston, TX
Amending soil for butterfly garden in Houston
My girl scout troop will be planting a butterfly garden at a middle school in Houston. In researching plants to use, we have come across some such as echinacea, rose vervain, galliarda and Texas gay...
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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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Houston, TX
Small area native plant gardening for an apartment
Mr.Smarty, We live in an apartment and are fortunate to have a small area, 5'x5', and so want color! Here in Houston the winters don't freeze much and the summers are HOT. Luckily, we are in the ...
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Houston, TX
Trees to hide telephone poles and wires
I am looking for trees to plant between my house and the street to hide telephone poles and wires. My top priority is to add strong, gold color in the fall. Spring flowers would be a plus. Because ...
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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
Surface tree roots hurting grass in Houston
We have 2 mature Arizona Ash trees in our yard (30-40'). One of them is in a sunnier location and has developed an extensive network of surface roots (up to 1 to 1 1/2" Dia.) between the tree and th...
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Houston, TX
Neighbor's Arizona ash roots in Houston
There is a huge Arizona Ash tree in my neighbor's yard. Its trunk is about 27 feet away from the foundation of my house and its foliage reaches my roof. I am planning to dig a trench on my side of t...
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Houston, TX
Location of Texas wild olive (Cordia boissieri) for sale
Do you know where to purchase Cordia boissieri A. DC.? I recently lost a tree during Hurricane Ike (I live in Houston, Texas)and have prepared the old area for a new tree. I've been researching the ...
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Houston, TX
Avoiding cutting field of wildflowers in Pearland, TX
How does one get a "wildflower pass" to avoid having to cut a GORGEOUS field of native flowers? Our church in Pearland has a couple of acres that we are required to keep cut, but it's currently aw...
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Houston, TX
Tropical Texas landscape from Houston
Do you know of any public (or at least photographed) place in Texas that has been landscaped entirely with native "tropical-looking" (i.e. evergreen but NOT conifer and NOT succulent/arid) species? ...
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Houston, TX
Vine for planters in Houston, Texas
i'm looking for a native climber/vine that would be suitable for a south facing facade that doesn't have a deep root system..to create a sort of green screen using planters sitting on the second lev...
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Houston, TX
Skunk cabbage for Houston TX
Can you find skunk cabbage in the Houston, Texas area?
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Houston, TX
Source for Saltmarsh cordgrass from Houston
I work for a consulting firm and we are looking to do more of our wetland creation/restoration. Do you know where one can purchased Spartina alterniflora?
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houston, TX
You are welcome
Dear Mills, You are right. My elm has elm finger galls. Thank you
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Houston, TX
Soil mixes for green roofs
We are trying to set up a green roof system on our own. What do you suggest for soil? It seems the soils are proprietary and unavailable to individuals.
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Houston, TX
Non-native pothos ivy from Houston
My pothos devils ivy is about 5 years old and grows outside. A couple of years ago its leaves became spectacularly large, like 12" wide and its stalk about 1 - 2" wide. A couple of years ago i gui...
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Houston, TX
Control of grasses in wildflower gardening
We have been trying to manage and grow a plot of wildflowers in Madisonville, Texas just east of Bryan / College Station on a charity organizations site for 3 years with some success. The grasses have...
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Houston, TX
Non-native Crape Myrtle
My local nursery saw the flower and said I have a crape myrtle...is this the common name or botanical name?
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Houston, TX
Native replacement for bamboo from Houston
I've read one reply where you do not advise using Bamboo as a privacy fence plant. What do you suggest in its place? The suggestions on the one I read will not work for me. Your suggestions were My...
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Houston, TX
Native specimen tree for Houston, Texas
Looking for recommendations for a specimen tree to flank our front steps. Evergreen, 15 feet tall, maybe 10 feet wide. Will be near icee blue Japanese yews and nearly wild rose bushes. Ideas?
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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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