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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!

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Questions From Near You

Austin, TX
Protection from native invasive trumpet vines
Mr. SP: I have invaders! Trumpet vines from a neighbor's yard, two doors away have taken over and are eating my garage and trying to steal all the sun from my clematis vines. How do I get rid of...
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Austin, TX
Possible reasons for non-fruiting wild plum
My grandfather has land in Lee County with thickets of wild plum, I believe creek plum is another name. However, they never seem to produce plums while thickets nearby on the roadside less than one mi...
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Austin, TX
Research on Atriplex confertifolia in Austin
I have heard a lot about Atriplex confertifolia (Shadscale). Has the Center done any research/trial growing of this plant for possible adaptability to Hill Country (west Austin) area? If this is a ca...
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Austin, TX
Buffalograss as lawn replacement in Austin, TX
Mr. Smarty Plants, I have just moved into a house that has a yard full of weeds. I was planning on killing the existing ground cover and starting buffalo grass, when I came upon several articles on...
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Austin, TX
Care of non-native Primrose jasmine
I have 4 large primrose jasmine shrubs that were transplanted about 4 years ago. They were cut back fairly harshly at that time. Since then, the centers remain very woody... no greenery... but the l...
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Austin, TX
Locating native plant landscaper in Austin, TX
Help ! I have a 9 year old native landscape -- river rock areas with beds of native plants which include lantana, salvia greggii, rosemary, coreopsis, brazos penestemon , Russian sage, Jerusalem sage,...
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Austin, TX
Non-native tomato plant in Austin
I have an upside-down tomato plant, started on July 4. For several weeks there have been 7 green tomatoes, with no further growth or ripening,despite daily watering. Am I doing something wrong?
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Austin, TX
Native Texas plants for rain gardens
I am looking for native Texas plants that would do well in very shady and partial shade rain gardens. Do you have any suggestions?
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Austin, TX
Native sedges for Texas
What can you tell me about Texas Blue Sedge? What its true name and culture requirements?
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Austin, TX
Reversion of maroon bluebonnets back to blue
In the fall, I bought a flat of Texas bluebonnets. They are blooming now, and it turns out they are actually maroon bluebonnets! Which is really too bad, because I want blue bluebonnets. Do you know i...
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Austin, TX
Native wildflowers for caliche soil
What kind of wildflower seeds can I plant on caliche soil. No water, other than rain, with some deer grazing.
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Austin, TX
Blackfoot daisy declining in Austin
My Blackfoot Daisies have grown large, bushy, have bloomed well over the past two summers. Now parts of the plants are drying up, dying. Will pruning out the dead parts help the plants to survive, or ...
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Austin, TX
Oak Selection in Austin
The City of Austin is offering me two free trees to plant in my front yard. I live on the limestone shelf that is Northwest Austin, with only a few inches of topsoil that was brought in by the home b...
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Austin, TX
Pecan Trees in Austin, TX prematurely losing their leaves.
Why are the leaves on the pecan trees falling so early this year.
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Austin, TX
Combining native shrubs for hedge in Austin
Smarty, Please tell me what the definitions are for all the various water, soil moisture, drainage and light requirements mean. Are the definitions global? I live in Central East Austin and inten...
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Austin, TX
Rainwater harvesting
I was told that you have info on setting up water collection systems. Is this information available on line? Thank you for your help.
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Austin, TX
Low height, drought tolerant grass for Central Texas
What is the best drought tolerant grass for Central Texas that can be used as a low height lawn? I remember seeing a news account (Austin TV) about some UT research at the Wildflower Center that deve...
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Austin, TX
Defining drip line on trees from Austin
When you say that trees should be watered at the "drip line," do you mean that literally? I assume that the drip line means at the outside edge of the leaves or branches. Does that mean that waterin...
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Austin, TX
Anacacho orchid tree (Bauhinia lunarioides) and the freeze in Austin
I just wanted to say that your answer in today's Austin American-Statesman about recent freeze damage to Anacacho orchid trees was right on for ours as well. We're in north central Austin and all t...
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Austin, TX
Native plants for septic field
We have a new Septic tank and field and I want to plant native seeds on the field instead of grass. Are there particular packages of seed that I can purchase or what else would you recommend?
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Austin, TX
Patio plants suffering from heat in Austin
My patio plants are burning up from the intense sun of Austin's August. Last year it even burned the leaves. Besides moving 40 plants to a shadier spot do you have suggestions on how to protect the...
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