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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 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
Favorite Wildflower
Dear Green Guru - What are your favorite wildflowers? Signed Curious
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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
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
Straw that broke the camel's back.
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I keep forgetting which day I am supposed to water and my St. Augustine lawn has turned into the neighborhood eyesore. Where can I go to learn more about this drought tolera...
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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
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
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
Control of sooty mold from aphids in Crape Myrtle
I have a crape myrtle in my front flower bed that has a sooty black substance on the leaves and trunk. I've done research and understand this is caused by aphids. My question is how do I get the bl...
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Austin, TX
Alternate native plants for bamboo as a privacy screen in Austin, TX.
Can you recommend a bamboo that I can plant, acting as a privacy screen, reaching at least 10'-12'? We are looking for a bamboo that does not spread, and can take the afternoon sun. It will be pla...
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Austin, TX
Root barriers for invasive plant roots from neighbor in Austin
My neighbor's invasive plantings are invading my yard. He has Chinese parasol, China berry, Japanese honeysuckle, privets, ligustrums and native Mustang grape vines planted so closely together they ...
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Austin, TX
Caterpillars on Mountain laurel in Austin
One of our 18+ year old Texas Mountain Laurels seems to be in distress this year. We treated it for caterpillars this Spring but many of the new leaves had been eaten by then. I recently started wate...
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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
Thorns on non-native orange trees
I just moved into a new home that has orange trees in the yard. The tree trunks and limbs are thorny. What kind of oranges are they? How should I care for them? Is it ok to cut off the thorns so t...
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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
Finding bloom time on "Explore Plants" feature of website
In using your 'Explore Plants' feature, I have noticed that you can search for plants according to their bloom time, but when looking at a specific species' page, I have not been able to discover t...
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Austin, TX
Low water lawn for Austin
I am interested in finding out more about low water lawns and was wondering if you have resources you might suggest. We have replanted with varying types of grass several times and my front lawn cont...
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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
Trimming Texas mountain laurel in Austin
Is there a specific time to trim established mountain laurels? Should I cut off the dried seed pods since they are weighing down the branches?
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Austin, TX
Suggested plants for between flagstones in Austin, TX
I would like to plant something between my flagstones on patio. I am taking up the cement mortar and want something that doesn't require a lot of water, low growing, and can stand a little traffic. ...
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AUSTIN, TX
Native grasses as low-water option for ranch yard
We have a weekend ranch in LLano Texas and are looking for a grass to plant in the front yard. (approx 3/4 acre) The house is very small and cute but not a real big fancy house. We do have a fence aro...
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