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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

Austin, TX
Should hole in escarpment live oak be filled in Austin?
Regarding one of my mature escarpment live oaks: should an old hole (about 8" across) in the trunk (caused by the improper cutting of a branch) be filled? A tree service technician advised me that he...
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Austin, TX
Native plants for a school butterfly garden
My son's school is having a beautification work day and one of the projects is a butterfly garden. Parents are being asked to donate plants, and we would like to suggest appropriate plants for this ...
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Austin , TX
More on bluebonnets
I have a small field (about 1/2 acre) where I would like to grow bluebonnets and perhaps some other wildflowers for added color. Do bluebonnets need to be fertilized? Should I water them? How can I...
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Austin, TX
What is the acreage of your gardens?
The wildflower gardens and display areas comprise about how much, either percentage or acreage, of the entire 279 acres at the Wildflower Center? Does that also include areas for growing flowers for ...
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Austin, TX
Ground cover for slippery slope
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am looking for a ground cover for a slippery slope. Do you have any suggestions?
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Austin, TX
Is there a purple passion hibiscus?
Hello! I bought a climbing vine in a hanging basket that looks like a passion flower vine to me. However, I was told that it was a "purple passion hibiscus." I cannot find such a flower on the inter...
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Austin, TX
How will my Texas Mountain Laurel survive clay soil?
Mr. Smarty Pants: I live in a new neighborhood (brownfield site) in Central Austin where the developers have put fill in the yards. After not much more than 2 inches of topsoil you encounter fairl...
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Austin, TX
How do I get rid of Smilax bona-nox?
Hi, we live in Circle C and our home backs to an easment area which has become overrun with what some are calling wild grapevine. Recently we noticed a different vine coming up in our backyard throug...
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Austin , TX
Caring for non-native African violet
How do you care for the African violet?
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Austin, TX
Thrips on non-native roses in Austin
How can I get rid of thrips that have totally invaded all of my roses?
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Austin, TX
Question about booklet, Native and Adapted Landscape Plants
In the booklet"Native and Adapted Landscape Plants for Central Texas", the light requirements for some plants are written in a way that I do not understand. Is Sun/Part Shade different from Part Sha...
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Austin, , TX
How close to a male tree will a new female persimmon need to be planted to ensure pollination in Austin, TX?
I have a male Texas Persimmon in the back corner of my yard. I would like to plant a female Texas Persimmon in the front yard, more than 100 feet away? How far away do you think they should be place...
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Austin, TX
Non-poisonous evergreen shrub for Houston playground
I would like to know what type of small bush or shrub would be appropriate to plant in a children's playground in Houston, TX. It will be located in full sun. I would like it to retain its leaves yea...
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Austin, TX
American basswood in Austin
Where can I purchase a fledgling linden tree in Austin?
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Austin, TX
Looking for a good cultivar of Prunus mexicana.
Has anyone come up with a good cultivar of Prunus Mexicana? As in, one selected from the wild? Or a hybrid with a European plum? I'd like one in my yard (I have also wanted a good Purple Leaf Plum, b...
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Austin, TX
Native Texas tree for anniversary in Austin
My husband and I would like to plant a tree in our yard commemorating our 5 year anniversary (wood anniversary). What native Texas tree can we plant in June? I love Red buds and any pretty blooming ...
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Austin , TX
Vines for a backyard pergola not toxic to dogs and cats
We have just built a pergola in out backyard and are wanting a vine to grow up and around the posts. We have 3 dogs and also have a cat that loves to go outside. We are really looking for something th...
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Austin, TX
Plants for making dyes for organic cotton
Looking to dye my own organic cotton for my new line of organic clothing and I want to grow the plants for making the dyes in my own garden. Any suggestions?
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Austin, TX
Eliminating stinging nettles in lawn in Austin
How do I get rid of stinging nettle that is dispersed through my lawn. It's not like the nettle pictures I see online - they are short plants and have narrow leaves - but covered with spines. Mowin...
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Austin, TX
Seeds from opuntia
How do I get seeds from opuntias?
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Austin, TX
Native plants for a lizard terrarium
My brother is setting up a terrarium for his lizard and wants advice on some species to put in the tank. He wants plants that generally fit the below description. Can you think of anything fairly c...
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