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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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Questions From Near You

Houston, TX
Live oak leaves turning yellow after planting in Houston
We bought a 65 gallon live oak in early October, and have been watering fairly heavily three days a week. It seemed OK, then all of a sudden lots of the leaves are turning yellow. Is it getting too ...
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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
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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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
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
Buffalograss for Houston
Will 609 buffalograss sod perform well in Houston, Texas? I am being told that it will yellow and get filled with weeds and that it won't handle the humidity. Is this all true? Help, please.
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Houston, TX
Propagation of poinsettias in water from Houston
Pointsettias - we have a broken branch that is thriving in a jar of water with new leaves and additional small branches. When we plant the stem in dirt and even a muck, the growth starts to wither. ...
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Houston, TX
Bluebonnets for Shanghai
I am a Texas native that now lives in Shanghai, and I am trying to grow a little piece of home (Texas bluebonnets) indoors, and I was wondering: a. Do you have any ideal soil recipes that bluebonne...
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Houston, TX
Small area native plant gardening for an apartment
Mr.Smarty, We live in an apartment and are fortunate to have a small area, 5'x5', and so want color! Here in Houston the winters don't freeze much and the summers are HOT. Luckily, we are in the ...
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Houston, TX
Problems with non-native Banana Shrub from Houston
My 7' beloved Banana Shrub (magnolia) has white dots on top of the leaves and nasty black stuff covering the backside of the leaves. The plant is dropping leaves. What can I do to save it? I has bee...
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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
Information about cenizo care and care of non-native tibouchinas
I just bought some tibouchinas and need some tips. I plan to plant them in an area that gets sun until about 2pm, then shade for the rest of the day. Will these plants thrive in this environment, or w...
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Houston, TX
Small tree for Houston
I want to plant a tree southwest of my one-story house. The area is 25 feet wide, from the house to the power line. Desirable qualities include being a Texas native, deciduous, drought tolerant, and h...
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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
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
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
Returning empty landscape to native plants
I live in a subdivision that backs up to a 40 +/- piece of land that is called Texas Safari, I think. Between TS and my fence is a piece of ground about 50-60' wide and 100-150 yards long. Some of th...
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Houston, TX
Blue mistflowers not blooming in Houston
My blue mist flower plants are not blooming, but they did last summer. I have tried spreading manure, but it hasn't worked. What should I use to stimulate blooms. Thanks.
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Houston, TX
Trees for cutout in driveway in Houston
I live in central Houston. I have a new driveway with a cutout of 4' x 8'. I would like to plant a shade tree that will not break up the concrete. What do you recommend?
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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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