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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

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
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
Problems with lantanas in Austin
Lantanas redux! I'm having similar problems with my Lantana here in Austin, Texas, as the person in Bandera. My husband has cut it back to the ground twice this summer. It returns, beautiful vibra...
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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
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
Color year round, welcome to Austin Texas.
I am new to Austin and want to plant colorful flowers for fall and winter that get a "wow" reaction. I have not seen much at the local nurseries. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!
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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
Insect infestation of plants, dog and home
I have plants that some kind of bug is killing them, my fan plam, ficus tree and other plants. The leaves are drying up and falling off. Apparently, they also are infestion my apartment. I feel them c...
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Austin, TX
Favorite Wildflower
Dear Green Guru - What are your favorite wildflowers? Signed Curious
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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
Propagation by seed of Texas Mountain Laurel
I just harvested a grocery bag full of Texas Mountain Laurel seed pods. I want to cast them out in a field and wooded area near NW Austin. Is it best to leave the seeds in the pods or remove the pod...
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Austin, TX
Understory plants for creek side in Austin
We live along Shoal Creek in central Austin and would like to establish a natural balance of vegetation along the creek. We currently have a high tree canopy made up of native Cedar Elms. What would...
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Austin, TX
Small, attractive tree to replace redbud
Hi. We have a dying redbud (approx 9 yrs old) in our west facing front yard. It gets lots of sun, and plenty of water from our irrigation system. We think the issue is a vertical split in the trunk, ...
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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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Austin, TX
Texas native bamboo vs. non-native for hedge.
Why is Mr. Smarty Plants so against bamboo when there is a native American/Texan bamboo and an active bamboo society in the Austin area? I live in Central East Austin and I need the cheapest, fas...
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Austin, TX
Plants for making dyes for organic cotton
Looking to dye my own organic cotton for my new line of organic clothing and I want to grow the plants for making the dyes in my own garden. Any suggestions?
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Austin, TX
Landscaping with native plants in Austin
I'm expanding a flower bed in front of my house and would like to keep it all natives. 1) How do I find out what type of soil I should add? (I live near Hyde Park, Austin and haven't had a soil te...
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Austin, TX
Viability of non-native Royal Poinciana in Austin
My question is about the tree called Royal Poinciana that grows so well in the Rio Grande Valley. I realise it isn't a native but hope you have an opinion about its chances of survival in Austin. ...
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Austin, TX
Native plants for a lizard terrarium
My brother is setting up a terrarium for his lizard and wants advice on some species to put in the tank. He wants plants that generally fit the below description. Can you think of anything fairly c...
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Austin, TX
Plant identification
Just after the last little rain we got, I noticed a small, inconspicuous plant in my front yard that was sprouting a structure that looks for all the world like a pitcher plant. It is not, however, an...
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