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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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Questions From Near You

Austin, TX
Problems with Mexican feathergrass in Austin
All of my mexican feathergrass plants have died or gone dormant, laying down flat for the most part. Any idea what's going on with them?
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Austin, TX
Fighting Sandburs with Bluebonnets in Austin, Planting Bluebonnets in Caliche soil
Mr. Smarty Plants, In my continuing fight against sandspurs I've decided that if I plant a copious amount of bluebonnets seeds that the foliage will choke out the sandspurs because bluebonnets set...
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Austin, TX
Oak leaf blister on live oak tree
Our live oak tree has a bad case of oak leaf blister and is really in need of a trim. Will it hurt the tree if we have it trimmed now? Thanks.
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Austin, TX
Planting star hibiscus seeds from Austin
TX star hibiscus seeds. How & when to plant in ground & in pots. Thank you, Carol
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Austin, TX
Non-native invasive Asian jasmine in greenbelt in Austin
How can I convince the people that live next to me to control their Asian jasmine? We have a small greenbelt owned by the City behind our houses and they have let it grow until it is ruining the gree...
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Austin, TX
Plant identification
I live in Austin. Texas. My garden has been lying fallow for several seasons and earlier this week I started clearing the weeds and wild flowers in hopes of getting our vegetable garden started again...
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Austin, TX
Non-native Meyer lemon not bearing fruit in Austin
I have had a meyer lemon for 9 years and it has never produced fruit. What do I do? It has beautiful leaves and thorns but no fruit. Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants
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Austin, TX
Cherry laurels next to retaining wall in Austin
My neigbors have 2 cherry laurel trees in their back yard planted within 4 feet of my retaining wall and fence. I am worried the root system will damage my retaining wall. The branches are already pus...
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Austin, TX
Native Groundcover for High Activity Location in Austin, TX
Howdy! We live in South Austin and have a smallish backyard that we're perennially working on. We have two young, very active dogs that spend a lot of time RUNNING and we never can keep ground cover ...
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Austin, TX
Evergreen shrub for part shade in Austin
I am planning a pocket prairie on the north side of my house. Where I am struggling is finding an evergreen shrub that will grow about 6-8', be native and provide semi-privacy in front of a bedroom ...
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Austin, TX
Shrubs with berries for birds and growing small red oak tree
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Recently, I saw a short article about attracting birds to one's yard. The article said to plant "berry-bearing" shrubs, but didn't name any specific shrubs. Could you tell...
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Austin, TX
Invasive, non-native Cherokee rose in Elgin TX
We have property in Elgin, TX in Bastrop county which has the red sandydirt-loam. The original owners from the 30's, must have liked the Cherokee rose. The problem is that it is planted around our ...
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Austin, TX
Plant identification
There is a vine that grows at my child's daycare that has been taunting me day and night, because I have no idea what it is and I typically have no problems identifying plants. Description: Vine- L...
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Austin, TX
Grasses for Austin
For Southwest Austin in October, what is the best grass to to plant at this time of year? Three quarters of the property is in Bermuda but the back quarter-acre is weeds. We are having it excavated ...
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Austin, TX
What are the webs floating in the air? Are they harmful to plants?
Austin, TX has experienced fall weather for the past week..low humidity, nice temps, sunny skies. But long webs are connecting from trees to our plants to the porch. Not on the trunk of the tree like ...
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Austin, TX
Vines for a cliff in backyard
I have a large (25 ft) cliff in my backyard. Its too large to use a retaining wall and occasionally some of the caliche slides down. I'm planning on planting vines at the top and letting them drape...
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Austin, TX
Why is my Horstail falling over in Austin?
I have a Horsetail plant. It was doing great but now, for the last few months, its not growing straight! Its falling over. Why?
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Austin, TX
Will the non-native tamarind tree survive in Austin?
We live in the Texas Hill Country and we were given a Tamarind Tree as a gift (which the givers thought was a Pride of Barbados). Is it advisable to plant this in the ground, since it is sensitive to...
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Austin, TX
Removing suckers from Escarpment oak in Austin
I have a small but mature grove of Escarpment Live Oak in my back yard. Five years ago we removed the St. Augustine grass that grew under these oaks and since then root suckers have begun to grow aro...
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Austin, TX
Need evergreen privacy screen for Austin, Texas
I need an evergreen privacy screen. I live in southern Travis County and have a 450 ft property line that has a view to about 10 -12 neighbors back yards. I need something that won't be nibbled by ...
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austin, TX
Control of live oak root sprouts, or suckers, under tree
Have live oak trees in clusters with circular beds surrounding in frontyard. Have been invaded by some type weed that looks a bit like holly. Woody stem a few inches high with several serrated leave...
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