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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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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 conifer bearing evergreen for noise reduction
I asked the prior question about noise reduction and you gave me several choices. Thank you for that. Of the plants you suggested, the wax myrtle is the tallest and therefore probably best for my 2-st...
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Austin, TX
Native shrubs that can be pruned to shape in Austin, TX
We have some shrubs in our NE facing front yard in Austin in the Steiner Ranch Area. The shrubs are native, and give good flowers in spring and summer, but are not trimmable and I want something like ...
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Austin, TX
Red spider mites in native bluebonnets in Austin
What would you do if the WFC bluebonnets developed a bad case of red spider mites? That is what has happened to many of mine here in Austin. I noticed them the other day and I must have been asleep be...
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Austin, TX
Tree (evergreen) to grow in area with high water table
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We live in central Austin, Tarrytown specifically, just blocks from the aptly named Spring Lane. (sometimes we hit water in our back yard within 2 feet of the surface.) We los...
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Austin, TX
How can I prune my Texas Mountain Laurels to be more tree-like?
I planted several Texas Mountain Laurels last spring and would like to train them to be more tree-like rather than shrub-like. Each is around 36" tall with 5-10 trunks coming from the ground. Where...
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Austin, TX
Live Oak Suckers
Hello, my neighbor cleared away their St. Augustine grass for mulch and plantings. Under a huge, beautiful Live Oak tree they placed a wide bed of medium gravel, almost out to the drip line. It look...
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Austin, TX
Possible to grow Inland Sea Oats in Oklahoma?
Would it be possible to grow inland sea oats in Southeast Oklahoma? Is this within the range of this plant? I am asking on behalf of my cousin in OK.
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Austin, TX
Container plants for shade in Austin
I reside in 78739. Just moving here from So Cal (where all plants are perennials), I'm looking to create a good "Shade loving" Container for near my front door. I'm looking at 'Summer Wave' Wi...
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Austin, TX
Mildew and red spider mites on native bluebonnets
In reply to the spider mite question. Absolutely! They were on the tops of the leaves which is unusual. I looked under a magnifying glass and confirmed this. I also have some mildew on the lower leave...
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Austin, TX
Planting orange-flowered asclepias in Austin
I have asclepias seeds of the orange flower variety and would like to plant them. What should I do for the best success, and how long does it take for them to come up?
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Austin, TX
Foliage of non-native Japanese maple tree
My Japanese maple tree (1 year old) is bright red in early spring. Then it turns green. Is there a way to keep this tree red?
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Austin, TX
Native plants for septic field in Austin
Do you have guidance for west Austin residents regarding landscaping a septic field with native plants?
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Austin, TX
Hibiscus plants being attacked by powdery mildew, or maybe mealy bugs in Austin, TX.
I have three hibiscus plants planted outside about a foot apart from each other. The one that gets most of the sunlight is the worse off of the three. However, all three of them have white powdery stu...
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Austin, TX
Vehicle friendly oak trees for Austin
Do Chinquapins, Shumards or Live Oaks produce lots of tree sap? I'm looking for a vehicle friendly Oak tree to be installed in parking areas in Austin, Texas.
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Austin, TX
Possibility of invasiveness of blackberry bush
I bought a blackberry bush from Home Depot last year. My sister said if I planted it in the ground it would take over my lawn. So I put it in a big planter up against my fence, but I'd like to put it...
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Austin, TX
Is Yaupon Invasive in the Austin Area?
Is Yaupon Holly invasive in the Austin area? Should we be removing it from our yards and/or greenbelt spaces? Thanks for your input!
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Austin, TX
Seed sources for gardening projects for kids
Hello! I want to grow some agriculture plants for my kids, namely, cotton, alfalfa, etc. Do you know of a source to buy seeds without chemicals? Thanks! p.s. If you have any other ideas for co...
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Austin, TX
Deer resistant, drought and shade tolerant plants to go under oak tree in Austin
What is the best deer resistant, drought resistant native plant to grow under my huge Oak tree? Grass does not grow. Will iris bloom?
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Austin, TX
Searching for seeds or plants of non-native Euphorbia peplus seeds from Austin
I am looking for Euphorbia Peplus seeds or plants to grow for skin cancer treatment. Do you have seeds or plants? Thanks!!
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Austin, TX
Should wait to trim Inland Sea Oats until all seeds have been dropped from Austin
Regarding Inland Sea Oats: I trimmed the stalks that have lost all the seeds. Should I trim the rest of the stalks or wait until all seeds have dropped?
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