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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
Small tree for container near pool in Houston
Can you recommend a small tree that I can grow in a pot for shade? Looking for minimal mess because it will be near the pool. How big should the pot be?
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Houston, TX
Short, Natural Evergreen Shrubs for Texas
I am looking for small/dwarf evergreen shrubs that, when mature, will be no larger than three feet tall. If possible I would like shrubs that are graceful and more natural looking rather than “regimen...
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Houston, TX
Problem with leaf cutting bees in Houston, TX
I have four Arapaho crepe myrtle trees in my backyard and two have leaves, especially the young leaves, being eaten by something. I do not see ants of beetles on the leaves and have not seen any bees ...
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Houston, TX
Solution for wet area near fence
I just moved into a house that is 10 years old on the north side of Houston, Texas. When it rains the water pools about 1 to 3 inches deep around the beds with trees (pine, sweet gum and chinaberry) ...
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Houston, TX
Plants for winter installation in Houston
What plants can you plant in the winter, Houston, Texas?
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Houston, TX
Native trees that host moths and butterflies for birds in Houston Texas
I have learned that non-native or alien plants do not attract the insects that the birds need to live on. I would like to know which native trees for central Texas have the greatest hosting capacity ...
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Houston, TX
Identification of plant with long skinny stems and red flowers
I keep seeing around this very pretty plant that has long skinny stems and bright red flowers that are tube like and skinny too. I would love to get this plant but do not know what it is called.
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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
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
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
How Can I Replace my Lawn with Natives in Houston, Texas
I want to remove the turf grass from my lawn and put in gravel and sand. I want to put in native and adapted plants that will attract butterflies and I want different native and adapted ornamental g...
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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
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
Are fuzzy oak leaf galls harmful to post oak trees?
Are the fuzzy balls on the undersides of our post oak trees harmful?
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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
Flowers at the Wildflower Center
What common wildflowers are in the Wildflower Center?
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Houston, TX
Sooty Mold on Beauty Berry
We recently planted a beauty berry plant (among others) to attract birds in our backyard. We have had a lot of rain (probably 5-7 inches) since planting a few weeks ago if that might have something to...
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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
Bluebonnets as a source of nitrogen fixation
I am fascinated by Texas Bluebonnets and want to introduce them to k-12 students as a major source of Nitrogen fixation. As I want to present this to the teachers can I get any guidance from you, lik...
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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
Non-native Genista racemosa from Houston
Read your info on Genista Racemosa. Doesn't address my problem of it not blooming this year. It's in full sun and growing well, about 30" tall & round. Bloomed last year. We're feeding with ba...
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