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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
Due to drought is pruning live oaks beneficial from Houston
Would it be beneficial (presuming a continued spring drought) to prune live oak trees more severely than usual this winter? I'm thinking that it might help them to have less mass to support.
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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
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
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
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
Will shoes pick up American Beautyberry fruit and stain carpets?
Do the berries from American Beautyberry fall on the ground so your shoes pick up the berries to stain the carpet in my house?
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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
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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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
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
Native plants to provide nitrogen for compost in Houston
I leave my clippings on the lawn so I don't have enough 'green' for my compost. I'd like to plant an unobtrusive area with some native that I can mow on a monthly basis. The area is in partial...
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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
Native vine for privacy on metal mesh fence from Houston
Is there a native vine that does not get top heavy in order to provide privacy from the bottom to the top on an expanded metal mesh fence? It's okay if it dies back, but prefer for it to be evergree...
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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
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
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
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
Source for Bamboo muhly from Houston
Hello. Do you know a source in Texas for Bamboo Muhly? Thanks in advance for your help.
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Houston, TX
Need help replacing a non-functioning pond in Houston, TX.
I have a non-functioning, shell-shaped, concrete pond in a shaded part of my backyard that has been a great place to grow mosquitoes since I got this place. I have decided that it is time for a chang...
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Houston, TX
Shade-loving Grass for the Houston area
I have an ash tree that completely shades the majority of our front yard and is not allowing the St. Augustine grass to grow. Is there a shade-loving grass good for the Houston area?
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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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