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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.

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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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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
Appearance of Viola lanceolota after controlled burn
Oh Great Green Guru, I just recently found Viola lanceolota (bog white violet) on a portion of Brazos Bend State Park’s prairie that was burned about 2 months ago to control for woody growth. (I wou...
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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
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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Houston, TX
Plants for low light in Houston
I moved from a home in New Jersey to an apartment in Houston, TX -inside court - low light. I can't keep houseplants alive., What do you recommend that I try here? Both inside the apartment and on ...
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Houston, TX
Plants for Painted Lady
Where can I buy plants for the painted lady butterfly larvae in Houston?
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Houston, TX
Removal of thistles from Columbus TX
I am sorry if you have an answer in FAQs but I could not find it. We recently cleared property near Columbus Texas of many cedars (ash junipers). This spring we experienced a profusion of thistle -...
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Houston, TX
Low privacy hedge in Houston
I am looking for a fast growing, dense (for privacy) shrub/s or plants, that will get at least 3-4+ feet high for a mostly shady area. Thanks.
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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
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
School project picking wildflowers
We have a Biology PreAp class in our high school that has their students do a wildflower project each year. The teacher gives the students a list of 25 wildflowers and the children have to locate, pi...
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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
Problems with non-native Ixora
I have 3 Ixoras I planted last summer and they did beautifully -- then Ike visted us. All the other plants in that garden have recovered and look beautiful, but the ixoras still look ill. No new gro...
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houston, TX
At what age should a Mountain Laurel bloom?
At what age should a Texas Mountain Laurel bloom? I saw your response about feeding and about how high nitrogen fertilizers can diminish blooms but is there anything that will help, eg. "super bloom...
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Houston, TX
Soil mixes for green roofs
We are trying to set up a green roof system on our own. What do you suggest for soil? It seems the soils are proprietary and unavailable to individuals.
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Houston, TX
Living lightly on the land
Are most of the materials used in the Center recyclable materials? For instance, the wood floors and HVAC systems? Thanks, Joel Rodriguez
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