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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
What is eating the plants in my garden?
I have both purple and yellow coneflowers. Something is coming into my garden and eating the flowers off the stems. We don't have deer but may have other small animals that can get into our yard. Do ...
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Austin, TX
Possible webbing bark lice on oak tree
We live near the Center and have a large live oak tree in our yard. Recently the lower trunk has been covered with thin, white weblike material (not sure if spider web). What could this be and is it d...
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Austin, TX
Where to purchase a non-native gardenia
Where can I buy a gardenia plant in south austin?
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Austin, TX
Failure to bloom of Tecoma stans in Austin
We Planted a Yellow Esperanza shrub 2 years ago that was blooming when we purchased it. It bloomed very little last year and not at all this year. It looks very healthy and each year gets about 10 f...
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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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Austin, TX
Plant identification
Can you identify a shrub in my backyard? It has odd looking seed pods with three chambers and hard black seeds inside roughly 1/8" in diameter. The pods themselves are brown, hard shell, and hang d...
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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
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
Native flowering vine for Central Texas
Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I need a Texas native, flowering, climbing plant to climb up a post or trellis. Any suggestions? Thanks!
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Austin, TX
Browning leaves on non-native Burford holly
I have several dwarf Burford hollies whose leaves are browning. The individual leaves have colors of green, dark brown to light brown extending from the stem. Any ideas?
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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
Plant identification of red flower in Austin
What is the plant I have seen in urban landscapes in Austin, Texas, that have bright red flowers at the terminus of what looks like a spray of green, jointed, drooping branches (or stalks). It forms ...
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Austin, TX
Loss of leaves on yaupon in Austin
Last winter I planted a Pride of Houston yaupon. Currently, the leaves at the tips of its stems are green and healthy, but the leaves along the stems are turning dark brown and falling off. Does...
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Austin, TX
Lack of fruit on Texas persimmon
I have several Texas Persimmons on my property, most have nodules covering most of the leaves that I am presuming to be insect eggs. Between my neighbor and I we have over a dozen of these tress grow...
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Austin, TX
Corona de Cristo, guest or pest?
We have had two recent speakers at the Austin Butterfly Forum with differing views as to whether Passiflora foetida is invasive in Texas. One believes that it's well-behaved and a a great butterfly ...
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Austin, TX
Native grasses for bare shady spot in Austin
My back yard is shady from old Arizona Ash trees. What native grasses can I plant in bare areas caused by my dog?
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Austin, TX
Moonnflower native to North America
Is the plant called moon flower a native plant to North America?
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Austin, TX
Failure to bloom in hybrid lantana
I live in Austin and have planted the newer lantana varieties which bloom with orange and pink flowers.They have been planted in full sun and get watered 2 times a week for about 15 minutes.They do no...
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Austin, TX
Should I acidify my well water for native plants
Should I acidify my well water for irrigation of native plants? There is not enough rainwater collection.
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Austin, TX
Problem with flameleaf sumac (Rhus lanceolatta)
My Flameleaf Sumac appears to have an insect infestation in the bark which oozes a sappy sticky substance. This has apparently caused one of the limbs to die. Will it kill the whole plant and is there...
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