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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!

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Questions From Near You

Del Valle , TX
Plants that survive Central Texas weather
What type of plants survive the Central Texas region weather for summer and winter?
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Del Valle, TX
Replanting members of Rosaceae family in same spot
HI Mr. Smarty Plants We had two apple (yellow fruit) trees besides out house and they died. Is it ok to replant in the same place with other trees without being afraid something is wrong with the soi...
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Austin, TX
Suffering Yaupon in Austin
I am in the Austin area and I planted a Pride of Houston Yaupon in my back yard in March. It is in full sun. Lately the leaves have been turning pale green and now they fall off the tree upon touchi...
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Austin, TX
Native lawn replacement for shady areas in Austin
Our front lawn was totally destroyed this summer during some remodeling construction. I am interested in replacing it with native grasses, but we have several oak trees that keep the area fairly shady...
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Austin, TX
Information on edible tubers of hog potato from Austin
I inquired a while back about hog potato or Hoffmannseggia glauca. You gave me some information on the plant but no information on when the plant produces the edible tubers. Also how long does it take...
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Austin, TX
Why aren't the Caesalpinia species in the Native Plant Database
Why doesn't the Wildflower Center list Caesalpinia in its plant database? I grow 3 species in my garden with no coddling: C. mexicana, C. gilliesii, and C. pulcherrima. I underst...
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Austin, TX
Growing Texas star hibiscus in Central Texas
Hi there, I purchased a beautiful Texas Star Hibiscus that I want to plant in my yard. Unfortunately, my yard being in Travis Heights, I hit a lot of caliche when digging. To plant some other nativ...
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austin, TX
Germinating Mexican Persimmon seeds in Austin, TX.
I'm planning to germinate Mexican Persimmon seeds, and plant them this spring. I want a female for fruit. Is there any way to encourage a plant to be female, and if not, is there any way you can iden...
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Austin, TX
Source for pecan mulch used at Wildflower Center from Austin
Hello Mr. Smarty Pants I was recently at the Wildflower Center. I saw all the pecan shell mulch and was wondering where you get it from. I noticed awhile back that it is one of the recommended mu...
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Austin, TX
Non-native Lavender Problem in Austin, TX
I am having a problem with two of my lavender plants and was hoping I could send a photo of each to get your opinion. I've been growing rosemary and lavender successfully for quite sometime and am aw...
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Austin, TX
Plants under Oak Trees in Austin TX
Half of my small yard is in the shade of one big live oak and one kumquat. Nothing I plant grows in this shade. The other half of my yard gets sunlight. It is planted with Jasmine grass which grows w...
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Austin, TX
Mexican Sycamore trees grown from seed
If someone is selling an alleged Mexican Sycamore grown from a seed harvested from a mature tree growing in Austin, is it likely to be a TRUE Mexican Sycamore -- or has it most likely been pollinated ...
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Austin, TX
What about the Bluebonnets at Muleshoe Bend Recreational Area in Spicewood, TX ?
We had heard about vast field of bluebonnets out at Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area - an LCRA park in Spicewood. We went out today and there are indeed vast fields . . . all where Lake Travis would be ...
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Austin, TX
Can a Quaking aspen grow in central Texas?
I live in Austin and like the idea of a Quaking Aspen tree. I live on a creek and the tree(s) would get good sun and water. Am I crazy?
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Austin, TX
When to stop mowing Habiturf for seeding from Austin
I planted a native Habiturf lawn in my back yard last spring/summer and it is doing very well. The how-to mentions allowing the turf to seed out once per year to help maintain the lawn. Is there a bes...
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Austin, TX
Differences in prostrate Mimosa species
There are apparently a lot of little pink puffy-flowered prostrate plants with thorny stems and sensitive leaves: Mimosa microphylla, Mimosa roemeriana, Mimosa strigillosa. How does one tell them apar...
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Austin, TX
Transplant shock in desert willow in Austin
We planted a desert willow 5 days ago. It came in a 15-gallon pot but the tree is quite large (~10 ft) with a wide spread. We watered thoroughly during planting but have not watered since (light rai...
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Austin, TX
Agarita and Mexican Buckeye not flowering or fruiting.
The Greenbelt behind our home has a ton of agarita and Mexican buckeye, but they never bloom or berry. The pigeon berry is very happily doing both all year. Any suggestions for helping the agerita a...
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Austin, TX
Want a ground cover instead of St. Augustine to fill in gaps in stone pathway.
I'm considering using Silver Ponyfoot (instead of St. Augustine) to fill in the 6" gaps between my 24"x24" cut limestone blocks footpath and patio. Do they run long that may cover the blocks, whi...
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Austin, TX
Propagation of rain, oxblood, and copper lily bulbs
I have Rain Lily, Oxblood Lily, and Copper Lily bulbs out of the ground, that are putting out some green growth. I would like to plant them soon. Is it okay to plant now and in December, or do I hav...
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Austin, TX
Spriranthes sp. blooming on rocky hilltop
I am not sure if my previous question went thru, so I am submitting it again. How unusual is it to find a few blooming specimens of Spiranthes sp. on a rocky hilltop west of Loop 360 near Bee Caves R...
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