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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.

Questions From Near You

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
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
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 Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine) known to cause skin irritation
Is Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata L.) known to cause a rash? We are trying to identify the source of a rash-after-gardening, and have not seen any of the big three (poison ivy, poison oak, poison suma...
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Houston, TX
Non-native St. Augustine grass failing for 5 years in Houston
My townhome in Houston has a mid-size backyard, which receives full sun for much of the day. I've re-sodded with St. Augustine for 5 consecutive summers, but it consistently dies over time (proper fe...
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Houston, TX
Suggestions for Texas native plants for memorial
A dear friend of ours has passed and we would like some ideas of a native Texas plant we could plant in memory of her. It will be grown in the hill region near Houston. Thank you.
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Houston, TX
Erosion control for slope to detention pond
We have been required by code to build a detention pond for new church buildings in the Webster, TX (Clear Lake) area. There is a serious erosion of soil from water runoff from the building roof need...
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Houston, TX
Native grasses for wood planter box in Houston
Hi, I'm making a long wood planter box/bench for my wood deck. The area gets direct sun only in the late afternoon/evening and the deck serves as a play space for our one-year old son. I'd like to...
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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
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
Plants for shade
I live in hot, humid Houston and the tree coverage of my yard is nearly 100 percent (so, little sunlight reaches the ground). Can you suggest a plant or two that would thrive in these conditions?
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Houston, TX
Looking for a native turf grass for the Houston area
Looking for a native turf grass for the Houston area. In some of your 2012 responses, you stated that "The good news is that research into turf-type grasses native to the coastal region is in the pla...
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Houston, TX
Shrubs for fenceline in Houston
I live in Houston, TX and would like your suggestion on what plants, trees or shrubs would work best to grow alongside a fence to hide a neighbor's backyard. We all have relatively small backyards.
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Houston, TX
Blocking stolons of St. Augustine grass
I have St. Augustine in my yard, and I am sick of edging the stolons that grow onto the sidewalk and driveway. Is there any way to stop the stolons or block them so that I can just mow and throw away ...
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Houston, TX
Skunk cabbage for Houston TX
Can you find skunk cabbage in the Houston, Texas area?
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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
Native specimen tree for Houston, Texas
Looking for recommendations for a specimen tree to flank our front steps. Evergreen, 15 feet tall, maybe 10 feet wide. Will be near icee blue Japanese yews and nearly wild rose bushes. Ideas?
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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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