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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
Native alterrnatives for Bermuda grass in shade
I have Bermuda Tif 419 on my lawn. As expected, there are small areas in the shade that the Bermuda is not doing well in. What would happen if I spread Zoysia seed in those shady areas? Would it gro...
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Austin , TX
Alternatives to tuliptree and red maple in Central Texas
I live in southwest Austin, TX, nearby a creek. The soil is very heavy with clay. I've been perusing web sites for trees, and we like the "Summer Red Maple" and "Tulip Poplar" trees very much, m...
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Austin , TX
Invasive non-native Bermuda grass in lawns
Hello Mr. Smarty Pants. My yard here in southwest Austin is the only lawn with Bermuda Tif 419 grass. I am surrounded by neighbors with St. Augustine. I upgraded to this hybrid Bermuda for a number of...
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Austin, TX
Oak diseases as a result of wet, cool weather
The mature live oak trees in our back yard have been dropping leaves just like they do in March, but this is July! Small to medium spots on the leaves turn brown before they drop. The veins of the l...
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Austin, TX
Effects of drought and insects on junipers
We live on acreage about 18 miles southwest of Austin. Ever since we moved here about 6 years ago, we've noticed that our mature Ashe junipers seem to be in some sort of decline with foliage graduall...
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Austin, TX
Yellowing leaves on young bur oak
I saw your response on 7/25 about leaves on mature live oaks turning yellow, then brown because of excessive rain. The same thing is happening to our young burr oak. Leaves are turning yellowish, th...
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Austin, TX
Birds attracted to wax myrtles in Austin
Hello! We are considering planting Wax Myrtles in our relatively small SW Austin backyard. I'm excited about its ability to create quick privacy, but I was wondering specifically, what types of bird...
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Austin, TX
Native plants for full sun in Austin
I am looking for a tough, native TX plant to put in full sun location between the sidewalk and street. I would love for it to flower all summer. There is some irrigation but not much. I don't want ...
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Austin, TX
Non-native Meyer lemon not bearing fruit in Austin
I have had a meyer lemon for 9 years and it has never produced fruit. What do I do? It has beautiful leaves and thorns but no fruit. Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants
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Austin, TX
Identification of possible edible huckleberry in Central Texas
I'm trying to identify a plant in my backyard, and in particular, I'm wondering if it's an edible huckleberry of some kind. Given all the rain Austin has had this summer, I wonder if it's not bey...
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Austin, TX
Cold moist stratification of Echinacea purpurea
I was looking at your info on Purple Coneflowers and it says: "Seed Treatment: Cold-moist stratification for two months improves germination." What is Cold-moist stratification? Thanks.
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Austin, TX
Privacy hedge for shady area
We are looking to plant a privacy hedge around the perimeter of our yard that will grow to 6 or 8 feet tall - some of the perimeter is exposed to sun and we will likely go with evergreen sumac - howev...
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Austin, TX
Control of live oak suckers by cutting
How do I control the Live Oak root suckers? At the moment we are cutting them as they come out of the ground.
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Austin, TX
Damage to non-native peach trees in Austin
I have 3 peach trees, different varieties. In the past years it has just produced worm-eaten fruit, most of which falls to the ground before ripening. Can these trees be treated for a better crop th...
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Austin, TX
Possible identification of native white buddlejas in Austin
I am desperately trying to identify a plant. It looks perennial, is in full sun, is about 7 ft. tall, bloomed white blossoms (similar in form to buddleia) in June, which have now changed from rose-co...
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Austin, TX
Care and propagation of American Beautyberry
We have an American Beautyberry growing on our lot. Before we fenced the backyard it was browsed by deer, and survived by wedging itself between the fence and a juniper tree. How can we: 1. encou...
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Austin, TX
How can I control Rescue Grass in my newly seeded prairie restoration?
Hello, This past fall I solarized the existing turfgrass in my front yard and seeded with the native tallgrass prairie grasses and wildflowers. My goal is to restore a small patch of tall grass pr...
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Austin, TX
Identification of fleshy green lobes on the ground
I have been hiking in the Austin area and it is January: Noticing dark green, rubbery, lobe shaped sheets on the ground. Less then 2". Usually near low growing fuzzy moss clumps. There are many of...
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Austin, TX
Plant identification
I live in Austin. Texas. My garden has been lying fallow for several seasons and earlier this week I started clearing the weeds and wild flowers in hopes of getting our vegetable garden started again...
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Austin, TX
Native plants to attract bees for vegetable garden
I'm looking for native plants that can help attract bees around my vegetable garden to help with pollination. What recommendations do you have?
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