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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.

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
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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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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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
Power line friendly tree for Houston, TX
Can you recommend a fast-growing, drought tolerant tree (preferably native) to plant next to a driveway that will provide shade on the southern elevation of a one-story bungalow and also not interfere...
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Houston, TX
How can I propagate wax myrtle by soft-wood or semi-hardwood cuttings?
Mr. Smartypants, I would like to propagate wax myrtle from mature plants I have growing in my yard here in Houston. I've read on the wildflower website to use "softwood" or "semi-hardwood" c...
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Houston, TX
Will Habiturf thrive in Houston?
Will Habiturf grow in partial sun? My lawn is surrounded by trees so that there is only about an hour each day with direct overhead sun. The rest of the day there is a light shade.
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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 ground cover for Houston
I'm interested in finding native ground cover, either perennials or grasses, that would help control erosion on a steep slope along Soldiers Creek. Currently there is Jasmine, ivy, prairie spiderwort...
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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
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
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
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
Mexican Lime Turning Yellow
What causes moderate yellowing of 40% of the leaves of an 8 year old Mexican Lime Tree that is booming and blooming right now with lots of thick new growth? I used a general garden fertilizer a few ...
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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
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
Plants that ducks and geese will not eat
Hello, I have a pet duck and goose. Who I love dearly and have built two ponds for.. one 4ft deep the other 6ft deep. The ponds are for their use, first and for most, but I would like to have a plan...
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Houston, TX
Source for Acer leucoderm (chalk maple)
Do you know where I can purchase a chalk maple (Acer leucoderme)?
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Houston, TX
Plants for winter installation in Houston
What plants can you plant in the winter, Houston, Texas?
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Houston, TX
Pruning for native oak in Houston
I have an oak tree, and I was wondering if I prune from the top down, would it get fuller at the bottom? Or can you tell me how to prune it? I have been pruning from the bottom up and it is growing ta...
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