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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 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.

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Houston, TX 77030, TX
Native vine to replace non-native Ficus pumila creeping fig
What is a good evergreen alternative to ficus pumila to cover a rough-textured concrete wall in Houston TX?
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Bellaire, TX
Smarty Plants on Herbertia lahue
Herbertia lahue is now blooming in Russ Pitman Park in Bellaire, TX. Below is a story about it. I heard that the plant is a protected species, but I could not find anything to confirm that. Could y...
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Bellaire, TX
Changing colors on Mexican Plum trees from Bellaire TX
The leaves on my Mexican Plum tree have recently started turning yellow/brown and the veins in leaves are red. Is this a watering issue or disease issue? Mites are on the leaves. This has been a ra...
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Bellaire, TX
How to propagate Texas red buckeye (Aesculus sp.) from seeds
I have a Texas Red Buckeye that is doing very well. How do I propagate from the seeds that come off of that tree? Thanks,
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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
Hurricane damage on oak in Houston
We have a very large oak tree that survived our last hurricane with lots of lost limbs. Then there was the drought. We have lost three large limbs on separate occasions on non-windy days. I love this ...
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Houston, TX
Grasses for a prairie in southeast Texas
We have a small place (about 100 acres) in Colorado County, Texas, on the Colorado River north of the town of Weimar. We are gradually clearing (bulldozing) the woods of cedars. One particular spot ...
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Houston, TX
Is non-native Japanese Blueberry tree fruit poisonous to cats and dogs from Houston
Are Japanese Blueberry Tree fruit poisonous? I have dogs and cats and I was concerned if they ate them. I also live in the Houston, TX area.
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Houston, TX
Problem with American Beautyberry in Houston.
My American Beautyberry is dying one branch at a time. The entire plant looks great, now flowering and starting to put out berries. Then one or two branches will completely die. Trim those off, wi...
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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
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
Flowers at the Wildflower Center
What common wildflowers are in the Wildflower Center?
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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
Competition between Horseherb and Chickweed
Ok, sorry I did it wrong the 1st time!? I live in Houston, and I have chickens! I also have mass amounts of Horseherb, and I want to buy some chickweed seeds and plant it for my chickens! My question ...
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Houston, TX
Pruning Post Oaks
I live in Houston and have two post oaks. One is right by my house. I'd like to trim them but was told they are sensitive and might die if I trim them. Is this true? What is the right course of ac...
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Houston, TX
Sources for ruellia from Houston
I want to get a bunch of either ruellia nudiflora or ruellia drummondiana in my butterfly garden. But I cannot find it anywhere, and I have no idea where to get plants or seeds. Seems most vendors...
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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
Damaged Shumard oak tree in Polk County Texas
I have a native Shumard Red Oak on our property in Polk County Texas that suffered damage (top blown out) during Hurricane Ike. Last year, one side of the tree browned early while the other side stay...
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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
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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Houston, TX
New growth on live oaks in Houston
My 2 10yr. old live oaks are putting out new growth (branches?) although, here in Houston, TX we are having such a drought. For the last 3 months, I have conscientiously watered my entire yard via ...
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