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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 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

AUSTIN, TX
Native trees for cemetery plot in Karnes County, TX
I'm looking for a tree for a cemetery plot in Karnes County at Pana Maria. There will be someone to regularly water it. I understand live oak and pecan are native to the area. I assume these would...
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Austin, TX
Plants for edge of intermittent stream
I have a friend in Washington DC who is having runoff problems. She is having a drycreek installed. What kind of plants are native to her area that will withstand flash flood and intermittent dry co...
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Austin, TX
Spring blooming Acacia farnsiana in Austin
I've been seeing a large shrub, possibly tree, around Austin this spring - and it is covered is small ball-like orangish-yellow blooms - very tightly covered in these blooms. From the car, it looks ...
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Austin, TX
Propagation and transplanting of Vernonia lindheimeri
I have located a wooly ironweed plant and have taken some seeds to start. This is the only ironweed I have seen. Any suggestions on how to start the seed? Also, if development of the property appea...
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Austin, TX
Invasive nature of non-native Zoysia japonica grass
I have been reading up on Zoysia grass and I am curious about its invasive nature. Is there a good way to keep it from going into my neighbors' yards? I was thinking about using some edging material...
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Austin, TX
Planting shade plants in 100+ weather
I was planning on planting some columbines in a barrel and Turk's Cap and Coralberry in my yard, but hadn't counted on the extreme heat this early in the summer. Is it okay to plant these things as...
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Austin, TX
Question about Salvia coccinea photos in the Native Plant Database
A search for Salvia coccinea in the database resulted in some of the pictures showing frostweed crystals ('am assuming that is an error), as well as some white and bicolor pastel pink & white blooms....
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Austin, TX
Fog fruit?
In your native plant database listing for Phyla nodiflora one of the common names seems to be misspelled (fog instead of frog). FYI, if wrong, please let me know.
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Austin, TX
Erosion control plants for steep slope in Austin, TX
I'm interested in finding native plants, either perennials or grasses, that would help control erosion on a fairly steep slope. These plants would be in a park, and volunteers will be watering the pl...
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Austin, TX
Tree leaves being chewed in Austin
We planted a Texas Redbud tree, and Monterey Oak (Mexican White Oak) in the front yard this spring and both have had their leaves eaten or chewed by something I cannot find on their leaves. At first I...
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Austin, TX
Non-native Pride of Barbados for Austin
When does the Pride of Barbados need to be planted and where would I find a nursery that carries them?
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Austin, TX
Does a cenizo really predict rain in Austin?
Mr. Smarty Plants, folklore has it that the flowering of Cenizo (aka Barometer Bush) is a predictor of rain fall. The Cenizo in South Austin is blooming profusely right now. Does this portend a Noac...
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Austin, TX
What is considered mid-winter in Austin, TX
This question was submitted, but I am unsure of the dates the answer is indicating. When is mid-winter? Question: When should I cut back (and how far should I cut back) the following plants in ...
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austin, TX
Alternatives to invasive, non-native Vinca minor as ground cover
I live in Central Austin. I want to plant a large area of Vinca minor since it is fast growing and offers attractive ground cover. I assume it requires little care with the rain being sufficient for i...
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Austin, TX
Removing yaupon hollies from yard in Austin
We recently moved into a home w/ way too many and much too large (20-30') yaupon holly's in the back yard. I had some of them cut down, but they keep coming up from the roots of the old trees. How ...
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austin, TX
Variegated leaves on Ungnadia speciosa (Mexican buckeye)
I grew some mexican buckeyes from seed last year and one of them has variegated leaves. I haven't seen this before- have I just not looked at enough mexican buckeyes up close or is this an uncommon f...
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Austin, TX
Fast-growing shade tree for Central Texas
What is the best fastest growing shade tree for central Texas? Thanks
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Austin, TX
Identification of Diospyros texana at Enchanted Rock Park
I took pictures last year in April of one particular large shrub in Enchanted Rock Park. The flowers are extremely fragrant, sort of cluster of tiny creamy white bell shaped. We came back this last we...
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Austin, TX
Planting from pots in summer in Austin
It's the last week in June and temperatures are going to be at 100 or more all week. I've some plants that I'm wondering about transplanting to an exposed site in this heat: muhlenbergeria lindheim...
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Austin, TX
Plant replacements for non-native invasives in Austin, TX
I live in Austin, TX, I have a large lot and small house. I want to do some selective planting on the back half of my lot. Currently there are large live oaks, cedar elm. hackberry, cedar, Texas persi...
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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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