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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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

Questions From Near You

Houstson, TX
Plant identification
Have two clippings from Monday the 11th that were growing out of small stumps. Tried to send you pictures of both cuttings of leaves. If you could tell me what you think they are, I would be thankful...
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Houston, TX
Fast-growing tree for Houston
Please suggest me fast growing tree like Eucalyptus for Zip 77099 to protect building with its shade. I understand Eucalyptus is not good for our area and is flammable. Any other with similar fast gro...
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Houston, TX
Need help for diseased Cherry Laurel tree in Houston
A couple of weeks ago the leaves on my decade old cherry laurel began to turn brown. Now they are entirely brown. I have not changed the way in which I cared for it, but about three days ago I noticed...
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Houston, TX
Bluebonnets in Colorado mountains
Will Bluebonnets grow up in Colorado in the mountains?
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Houston, TX
Source for Acer leucoderm (chalk maple)
Do you know where I can purchase a chalk maple (Acer leucoderme)?
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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
Plants for aerobic septic system in Houston
My husband and I would like to plants some trees and shrubs, but we have an aerobic system taking up most of the yard :( Can you recommend any trees that won't hurt that? Also shrubs for our weath...
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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
Need shrubs to form a barrier fence to exclude large dogs in Huntsvile, TX.
I'm seeking shrubs to form a barrier fence to strongly discourage free-roaming large dogs from entering a property in Huntsville, Texas. The site is currently just a grass yard basking in full sun, 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 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
Tufted hairgrass seed for Houston TX
From Houston-Texas I am looking for a seed grass called tufted hairgrass ( deschampsia caespitosa ), if you can tell me where to find this kind of seed. Thank you for helping.
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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
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
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
Freeze damage to my Norfolk Island Pine in Houston, TX
Houston, Texas experienced a rare 3-day snow event this winter that allowed snow to stay on my 20 ft. Norfolk Pine, in the ground for over 10 yrs. Every branch is now brown with all dead foliage. I ha...
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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
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
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
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 plant to replace invasive non-native nandina in Houston
I'm just now finding out that Nandinas are an invasive species from our local chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas. I have three of them in my front yard and want to replace them. Can you sug...
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