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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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

Questions From Near You

Center, TX
Fast-growing evergreens for privacy in Center, TX
I live in East Texas and am looking for a fast growing evergreen for a privacy screen around my backyard. The area gets partial sun and the soil has a lot of clay in it.
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Austin, TX
About Live Oak trees in Austin, Texas
Hello, I planted a couple texas live oak two years ago in South Austin. They're about 5 feet tall. How long will it take for them to mature? Thanks
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Austin, TX
Problems with non-native hollyhock in Austin
Our hollyhocks develop small yellow spots on the leaves; these eventually spread into little swellings on the underside; I think of them as lesions. They spread and the leaf turns brown and shrivels ...
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Austin, TX
Buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides) and buffalo grass mixes
I live in Austin, TX and have visited the Wildflower Center in the past and enjoyed the display of native grass mixes. Can you tell me about the variations of buffalograss mixes... which ones are most...
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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
Plants for October wedding in Texas Hill Country
I am planning an October wedding at a Texas Hill Country vineyard. I would like to incorporate some local, seasonal plants in the floral design. Can you recommend some hill country plants, flowers, ...
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Austin, TX
Brownish haze on live oak leaves in Austin, TX.
My live oak tree leaves are getting a brownish "haze" on them, almost as if they have been spray painted (lightly) with brown paint. I did use the oak wilt identifier and that is not at all what it ...
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Austin, TX
Dealing with beetles feeding on cholla cactus
Hi Mr. Smarty Pants, I bought a Cylindropuntia imbricata from the Wildflower center and it was growing like crazy. I recently noticed a lot of beetles feeding on it. Some are black and some are gra...
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Austin, TX
Transplanting suckers on Cenizo in Austin
Our large silverado sage has produced some volunteers, which are now about 1 ft - 1-1/2 ft tall. Is it possible to transplant them or has the taproot grown too deep for transplanting? Also, will the ...
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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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Austin, TX
Cutting back annual wildflowers after going to seed
I purchased some wildflower seeds from the center last year, planted them in Nov-Dec and they have done fairly well this year despite our fairly dry winter. My question is now that they are done bloom...
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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
Coralberry in Central Texas has lost leaves
I planted a coralberry this past spring. It seemed to be doing well, but then I noticed some of its leaves were missing. Gradually, all the leaves disappeared, from the top of the plant down. It is ab...
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Austin, TX
Plant identification, Oxalis drummondii
All around Austin in the last couple of weeks I've noticed a beautiful lavender flower blooming in dense clumps. I haven't been able to look at them closely because it seems they prefer to be in th...
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Austin, TX
Drought tolerant Plants and moving Wax myrtles in Austin
Mr. Smarty Plants, What are the most fire resistant and drought tolerant plants for caliche soil in Austin area? I am considering relocating or removing my wax myrtle shrubs because they are ...
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Austin, TX
Distinguishing Bermuda grass from Buffalo grass
Is Bermuda grass taking over my Buffalo grass lawn? I recently sodded a small area of Buffalo Grass 'Prairie' (last fall). It's doing beautifully, or so I think. There are stolons running and reach...
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Austin, TX
Bluebonnet blooming in late August
We have a bluebonnet plant in our front yard that has been blooming since July. We did not plant it, it just came up naturally. Is it rare to have a plant still blooming this time of year?
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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
Soapberry suckers in Austin
Western Soapberry. Cut it down many months ago. Now I have baby trees all over the lawn. Are these the berries or are they coming from roots even though some sprouts are quite a distance away. I pul...
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Austin, TX
Is common yarrow a Texas native?
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Is common yarrow Achillea millefolium a Texas native? Please enlighten me.
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Austin, TX
Source for materials for making seedballs
Regarding your answer to the person looking for Red Clay for making seedballs: The Red Clay can be found at Armadillo Clay in Austin, TX. (The inquirer lives in Round Rock). The Wildflower Center arti...
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