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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
Keeping deer and rabbits out of plants
Are there plants that are both deer- and rabbit-resistant? Something is eating the plants that the deer seem to leave alone--snipping off the flowers at the top of the stems (ie, zinnias and plumbago...
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Austin, TX
Update on Wildflower Center's Turffalo plot
Hi, I was wondering if you can provide an update about the Turffalo grass installed at the Wildflower Center? The last update was June 26, 2009. We are investigating options for a lawn in South Aus...
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Austin, TX
Ground cover for cleared property in Austin
I live in a small apartment building near 183 & 620. The land beyond the lawn has trees and has been cleared of brush. They are planning to seed the ground. I thought invasive native ground covers wo...
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Austin, TX
What to do about cold damage to spineless prickly pear?
In Austin, Texas our 'spineless' prickly pear cactus is about 6' wide by 4' tall. In the last severe freeze, the top half flattened out and has remained that way. Should I cut the flattened pads o...
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Austin, TX
Vascular wilt in Rhus virens
Hi Smarty: Our evergreen sumac grew beautifully this spring (it is about 2 years old -- we got it at the LBJ Wildflower Center plant sale). Then its leaves suddenly drooped last month (May) and turn...
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Austin, TX
Small shrub with thorns for Austin
I'm looking for a shade-tolerant 2-3' shrub with thorns, native to Texas (ideally central Texas) - an alternative to Barberry? Does such a plant exist?
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Austin, TX
Low-growing grass for steep hill in Austin
I'm looking for a low-growing grass for a steep hill in my backyard. My issues are it can't be mowed because the hill is too steep, it can't be trimmed with a weed eater because it's a very large...
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Austin, TX
Need for sunlight for Sophora secundiflora to bloom
My mountain laurel doesn't bloom. We live in Oak Hill and planted it about seven years ago. It bloomed one year at about age three or four. Since then nothing. What can I do? It only gets indire...
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Austin, TX
Source for Bigelow oak in Austin
Hi folks! I noticed on my last visit to the Wildflower Center that you now have a shrub white oak/Bigelow oak which I think is new (maybe I was just seeing it for the first time). I absolutely love ...
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Austin, TX
Identification of Monarda citriodora on roadsides
What is the name of the lavender wildflower so prevalent right now throughout the Texas hill country? It's an upright stalk that has lighter and darker lavender petals with rows of green leaves sepa...
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Austin, TX
Rain garden for South Austin
I have a TINY yard in south Austin. It is 8'x25', sandwiched between four houses and happens to be at the lowest elevation, so all of the neighbor's yards drain to ours. Originally, we had bermud...
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Austin, TX
Need help with a misshapen Monterey Oak in Austin, TX
In the Fall of 2008, I purchased a very tall Monterey Oak from TreeFolks at the Burger Center Sale. Since the wind was so high, all the tall trees were on the ground, and I guess that is why I did no...
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Austin, TX
Rain garden plants for Austin
I have a 7'x1' shaded area in between my house and sidewalk where the downspout is, and would like to add plants for a more eco-friendly drainage solution. Which plants would be best? I know that th...
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Austin, TX
Red bluebonnets in the garden
I bought 6 blue bonnet plants at Lowe's last fall. They survived the winter in my garden fine and they are now blooming (3/11)but they are red! Did I buy a wrong variety or is there something about...
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Austin, TX
Using corn gluten to suppress weeds in buffalo grass, blue grama and curly mesquite
I own a home in central Austin and am replacing my St. Augustine lawn with a native grass blend of Buffalo, Blue Grama, and Curly Mesquite as a pre-emptive attack for the inevitable drought conditions...
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Austin, TX
Whitefly infestation in roses and salvia
Several of my outdoor plants (including Knockout roses and salvia) have a white residue on the stems. If I touch it a white bug jumps off. The residue can be wiped off or sprayed off, but the little...
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Austin, TX
Danger of oak wilt infestation in trees with storm-damaged limbs
A recent severe storm in Southwest Austin broke large branches and trunks on many Live Oaks in my neighborhood, including my next door neighbors'. Can this invite Oak Wilt? I'm worried about my tree...
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Austin, TX
Invasiveness of non-native Asian jasmine
I have a lot of Asian Jasmine planted as groundcover in various beds. The last year or so it has become unruly and is now invading my St. Augustine, working its way into the lawn itself. Is there an...
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Austin, TX
Central Texas native plants good for cut flowers in Austin
What are the best native plants to Central Texas that can be used as cut flowers for indoors in the home? I have a large garden that will be partly vegetables, partly for cut flowers. Thank you for ...
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Austin, TX
Removing fading blooms from iris
Iris maintenance: when blooms begin to fade do I pluck off just the bloom? cut off the entire stalk? leave it alone? Some blooms grow on stalks without leaves and some on stalks with leaves.
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austin, TX
Privacy plantings to replace invasive bamboo
We are looking for good screening plants for our new house (the houses are very close). We like the way bamboo looks it is tall and narrow for the most part, but we do not want bamboo since it is inv...
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