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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
Native trees and shrubs for Austin
Hello, I'm searching for a small or medium-sized endemic or native tree (or tree-like shrub) to feature in the front yard of my South Austin bungalow. I want something that provides dappled shade so...
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Austin, TX
Apparent disease in peach tree in Austin
I have a peach tree that the leaves are "bleeding" out on. The leaves are continuing to get paler and paler. There are no peaches on the tree this year either. What can I do?
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Austin, TX
Fall blooming time for Copper Canyon Daisies
None of our Copper Canyon Daisies bloomed this year. Can you tell us why? They have been prolific bloomers in past summers.
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Austin, TX
Problem with weeds in the buffalograss
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm about to throw in the towel! My back 'lawn' of buffalo grass (609) is almost all 'weeds'! Native ruellia and lyre leaf sage have taken over and as the area has gott...
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Austin, TX
Recommended irrigation schedule for Austin, TX
With the very hot summer and the conservation of water so important, could you let me know what would be a good watering schedule? I am fortunate enough to have a sprinkler system so I can set my pop...
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Austin, TX
Ground covers to enrich soil over winter in Austin
I am about to have a baby so will not be working my vegetable garden from about now (September) through the winter or spring. Is there something (a grass, maybe?) that I can plant now that will benefi...
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Austin, TX
Peak time for bluebonnets to bloom in 2009
Any idea when we can look for the bluebonnets to appear in 2009? Trying to have a reunion and want to see bluebonnets for the out of staters!!
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Austin, TX
Large-scale wildflower maintenance
We purchased the Texas/Oklahoma wildseed mix from your shop last year and planted them this past fall. The wildflowers came up beautifully, but at the beginning of June, after flowering just one time...
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Austin, TX
Texas madrone trimmings for a wedding
Looking for Texas madrone tree trimmings needed for a special wedding.
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Austin, TX
Native plants for a school garden in Austin
We are starting a native garden at our school in Central Austin, what native plants and flowers would be best to plant? The area we are planting faces east. We also need drought tolerant plants becau...
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Austin, TX
Decline of Japanese ferns in Austin
I've enjoyed beautiful Japanese ferns in my shaded garden for about ten years. They are looking spent and straggly, despite fish emulsion, compost,and lots of mulch and soaker hose watering in the s...
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Austin, TX
Ants in outdoor plants in Austin
Live in Austin. The problem is THIS. Ants have invaded our outside potted plants- mandevilla, begonia , lemon tree and violas. The colonies are devouring the roots it appears. Please give suggestions ...
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Austin, TX
Invasiveness of wild petunia in Austin
Is the wild petunia in the data base as invasive/aggressive as the more common ruellia? In other words, will it pop up everywhere? Ruellia nudiflora (Engelm. & Gray) Urban Common wild petunia, Vi...
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Austin, TX
Favorite Wildflower
Dear Green Guru - What are your favorite wildflowers? Signed Curious
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austin, TX
Is it OK to recycle my kids bathwater out to the lawn?
Is it OK for me to "recycle" my kids bathwater out to the lawn or houseplants? We use normal everyday brand kids soap. Thanks Mr. Smarty Plants
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Austin , TX
Caring for non-native African violet
How do you care for the African violet?
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Austin, TX
Brown ryegrass in Austin lawn
We had rye grass planted in our yard last fall. It was beautiful all winter. Now it is brown but the St. Augustine has not yet taken over, so there are large portions of the lawn with an abundance o...
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Austin, TX
Different shades of green in Taxodium distichum (bald cypress)
I have two bald cypress trees 50 feet apart, but there was very different soil in the two holes. One was a clayey soil and the other was much more the Austin limestone soil. The trees are about 2 ye...
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Austin, TX
Die-off of Texas bluebells
I live in southeast Travis County east of IH35 in the Blackland Prairie. We have a gorgeous stand of Texas bluebells. Last year, the bluebells would look fine, then they would turn brown and die for...
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Austin, TX
Preventing armadillos from digging up lawn for grubs
Over the past 4 months we have endured an armadillo digging up our lawn. We are now seeking a humane method to discourage the armadillo from digging up the grubs in our lawn. Do you have any suggest...
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Austin, TX
Mice eating seeds put out for birds
I love feeding the wild birds and put out seed in our backyard. Now, I have a family of mice eating the seed and they are living in the trunk of our elm tree! How can I get rid of them without killi...
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