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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

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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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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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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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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Magnolia, Tx, TX
Plant identification
We live in Magnolia TX and have a shrub we can't identify. It's evergreen and has waxy leaves with a serrated edge that are about an inch in length. They have pink flowers and they grow to ab...
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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
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
Argemone pleiacantha for Houston
Hey, Mr. Smarty Plants! Please allow me to offer a spell check on a plant that I inquired about last night. It's Argemone pleiacantha. I live in Houston, TX, and have been told that it will bloom ...
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Houston, TX
Care of Florida Blue or Lisiantus in Houston
I'm in Houston, Texas and I'm growing, for the first time, Florida blues, Eustoma, purple. Since I am from California I'm not familiar with this plant. It's beautiful. How do I care for them i...
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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
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
Tall skinny plant with tubelike flowers
I already posted a question regarding a skinny plant with tiny tube like flowers and you gave me 6 possibilities unfortunately it is not one of them. I happened to see the plant again in my neighborh...
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Houston, TX
Shade tolerant low shrub for Houston
Please suggest a shade loving shrub that doesn't get more than 3' tall for a foundation planting along a front porch in Houston, TX. I prefer native, drought resistant if possible. No nursery person...
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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
Native plants for container gardening in Houston
Hi, we live a townhouse community in Houston, TX and have a decent sized backyard. I plan on devoting part of that to plant some potted flowers which are less than 6 ft tall (we can't plant anything ...
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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
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
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
Source for Gulf Muhly for Houston
Could you help me find a seed source for Gulf Muhly, Muhlenbergia capillaris please? I need enough for about 2 acres. Thanks.
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Houston, TX
Soil Loosener/Pollinator Plants for Houston
I am trying to establish a mostly-native pollinator way-station in a recently purchased lot in a 100 year old neighborhood in Houston. Much of the property has a thick layer of oyster shell four to si...
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