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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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Questions From Near You

Austin, TX
Problems with rusty blackhaw viburnum in Austin
I have a four foot rusty blackhaw viburnum. Last summer the leaves turned reddish and in the late summer most of them fell off. This February the plant started to leaf out and then bloomed. It has ...
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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
Verifying safety of berries on a red mulberry tree in Austin
I think I have a red mulberry tree on a newly purchased property. The property sits on Lake Austin and the tree is at least 40 feet tall with red fruits about an inch long that look like skinny black...
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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
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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Austin, TX
Native grasses for erosion control
I have moved into a home that had vinca covering the front yard which slopes to the sidewalk (18'x15'). I have removed 3/4 of the vinca by the roots and have placed several gulf coast muhly across ...
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Austin, TX
Sap flowing from live oak trees in Austin
I have live oak trees in my backyard,17 to be exact. I live in Northwest Austin, in Williamson county. There are two live oaks growing about 4-5 feet apart in the center of my yard. One appears to ha...
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Austin, TX
Saprophytic fungus on mulch
I just did some major landscaping in my west Austin, TX backyard. I added many native plants and mulched all of the new beds. I did this just before the heavy rains in the past two weeks. I now not...
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Austin, TX
Tentative identification of Ibervillea lindheimeri
I live close to the Center and found a plant in the park near my house I'd like identified. It was a vine with bright red fruit on it. The fruit was about the size of a cherry tomato but was oblong...
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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
Eliminating bamboo in Austin
Everyone should be warned about bamboo and how invasive it is. My neighbor planted it in his back yard and it's now taking over my back yard and all the surrounding yards. He installed a barrier but ...
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Austin, TX
Cold hardiness of native Wild Olive in Austin
I am considering purchasing a Mexican/Texas Olive (Cordia boissieri) at the upcoming Wildflower Center plant sale to put in my yard in east Austin. I know this tree naturally occurring range extends ...
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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
Watering needs for a new landscape
How much and how frequently are you supposed to water after implementing a new landscape? For example, perennials and succulents that are drought tolerant.
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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
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
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
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
How and when to harvest bluebonnets.
A previous answer mentioned harvesting bluebonnet seeds by pulling up the whole plant when the seed pods turn brown. Two clarifications - when do the seed pods turn brown as these plants are hard to ...
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Austin, TX
Penta and licorice plants for Austin
For Austin location Are you familiar with a small flowering plant called Penta? How about Licorice? If yes, could you provide growing conditions. Thanks
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Austin, TX
Restoration of mistflowers suffering from wet season
I have planted gregg's mistflower in a bed that receives morning sun and afternoon semi-shade. It was beautiful and covered with blooms and butterflies this spring, but suddenly has become brown and ...
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