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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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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

Allen, TX
Failure to bloom of tropical plumeria
I have had my plumeria for the past five years. The first three years it bloomed but has not the past two. The plant is healthy and continues to grow but will not flower. It seems to be very health...
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Allen, TX
Non-native house plants stressed from Allen TX
I have three house plants that were plants I received from my father's funeral services. They were healthy for about two years and then we added some soil and now they are turning brown and appear t...
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Allen, TX
Plant that attracts butterflies, perhaps?
What is that one plant/flower in your Center that attracts wildflowers like crazy? It's got a cute name, not a Latin or Scientific name. I have the plant, but don't know how to make it spread.
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Allen, TX
Shrubs for Birds and Bees in North Texas
I have a small backyard and would love to grow native plants for North Texas. I don't think I can grow trees, but for sure can do 1-2 crape myrtle-size shrubs. I have some rose of Sharon's going on ...
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Allen, TX
Spacing of Trees near a House Foundation
Can you recommend non-invasive shade tree that can be planted 6 to 7 feet from foundation. We are buying a new home in zone 8a and choices that are given are: Live Oak, Lacebark Elm, Cedar Elm, and B...
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Allen, TX
Non-native bermudagrass in meadow in Allen TX
What is the effect of not killing or removing bermuda grass when converting an area to a prairie meadow in Allen, Texas? Most articles describing how to create and establish a prairie meadow suggest ...
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Allen, TX
Decline of indoor lemon cypress
I received a lemon cypress as a gift. I have kept it indoors in bright light and tried to keep it moist. When I received the plant the foliage was soft and now it has become brittle and dry even tho...
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Allen, TX
Yellow in pin oak leaves from Allen TX
I have two pin oaks and one is completely yellow - a sign of iron deficiency and the other is starting to turn completely yellow as well. I've a proposal for iron deficiency but it is quite expensiv...
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Allen, TX
Established Habiturf in the DFW area from Allen TX
Where can I see an established Habiturf in the DFW area? There are two sites that are obviously DFW (White Rock Lake and Round Rock) mentioned in Ask Mr Smartyplants, but no addresses. If no sites ar...
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Allen, TX
Tree roots breaking surface in Allen, TX
I live in Northern Texas, near Dallas. My questions concerns a tree in my front yard that now has roots that break the surface of the soil and grass. I would like to cover the roots. Should I cover...
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Allen, TX
Why doesn't my Possum Haw have berries this year?
A possumhaw holly has no berries as of mid-May. I planted this possumhaw last summer - it had lots of berries. Why would it have no berries this year? This spring I have two yaupons with lots of b...
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Allen, TX
More on bluebonnets
I want to go to the Willow loop north 7 miles or so of Fredericksburg to see the bluebonnets in bloom this year but don't know when the best time would be to see this spectacular view. I plan to be ...
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Fairview, TX
Leaf fall from Cedar Elm planted in clay
I saw the answer to leaves falling off a cedar elm planted in clay. However I planted a Cedar Elm in my back yard. I dug a hole in the grass then planted and put grass back on top. I water every other...
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Fairview, TX
Native plants under trees for privacy barrier in Fairview, TX
I am looking for suggestions on what to plant for a Privacy Barrier. The area in question is a shaded area under a tree line of about 200+ feet long. I am hoping for year round coverage. The canopy...
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Fairview, TX
Identification and replacement of chinaberry tree (Melia azedarach)
I am trying to identify and locate a native tree. We live in Fairview, near Allen, Texas. It is in bloom now. It has fragrant small lavender 5 petal flowers in clusters. They develop into yellow/t...
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Plano, TX
Is Sucissa pratensis (Devil's bit scabious) allelopathic?
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center pointed me to you. Can you comment on Devil's Bit Scabious? A neighbor pointed out these volunteer plants in my yard and wants me to kill them. He called them Devi...
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Plano, TX
Bur oak defoliation
I have a bur oak that was planted in 1993. In 2000, I had mortared stone edging (approx 5 inches deep) installed around the trunk from 4 to 6 feet away. In the last 3 years, the tree seems to be decli...
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Plano, TX
Sun tolerant, rabbit-resistant plants in Plano, TX
I live in Plano, Texas and am trying to identify sun tolerant plants for my landscape that are also rabbit resistant. The rabbits have taken over and destroy pansies, marigolds, etc. I am looking fo...
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Plano, TX
Wildflower seeds that do well in black clay soil from Plano TX
What native wildflower seeds do best in black clay soil? We live in Plano along creek w/ 8,000 sq. ft. in full sun. No manmade water source. Suggestions?
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Plano, TX
Mountain laurel with new leaves or new seed pods
Each spring, my Texas Mountain Laurel seems to put new leaves only on selected branches (actually trunks), and put on seed pods on other trunks. It seems to be mutually exclusive: trunks with new seed...
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Plano, TX
Cotton plant for yard in Plano
I wish to plant a specimen cotton plant in my yard - will it grow in Plano, Texas, do you have any tips for maintaining them, and will they survive freezing temperatures?
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