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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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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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
Horse herb available by seed?
I live in Hays County in Texas, and I would like to plant horse herb on a slope that is now covered with a variety of tall grasses. Is horse herb available in seed form? If so, how may I order some? S...
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Austin, TX
Removing St. Augustine, replacing with native plants
Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, always excited to talk to the Green Guru himself. I've recently purchased a house in South Austin and am interested in establishing a small, 500+ sq ft, prairie grass and wi...
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Austin, TX
Problems with rusty blackhaw viburnum in Austin
I have a four foot rusty blackhaw viburnum. Last summer the leaves turned reddish and in the late summer most of them fell off. This February the plant started to leaf out and then bloomed. It has ...
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Austin, TX
Sap flowing from live oak trees in Austin
I have live oak trees in my backyard,17 to be exact. I live in Northwest Austin, in Williamson county. There are two live oaks growing about 4-5 feet apart in the center of my yard. One appears to ha...
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Austin, TX
How and when to harvest bluebonnets.
A previous answer mentioned harvesting bluebonnet seeds by pulling up the whole plant when the seed pods turn brown. Two clarifications - when do the seed pods turn brown as these plants are hard to ...
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Austin, TX
Buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides) and buffalo grass mixes
I live in Austin, TX and have visited the Wildflower Center in the past and enjoyed the display of native grass mixes. Can you tell me about the variations of buffalograss mixes... which ones are most...
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Austin, TX
Winter expectations for Buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides)
I planted some buffalo grass (from seed) in April of this year. Iíve got a nice patch now, though itís starting to brown up some. Iím wondering what to expect from this patch over the winter- will i...
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Austin, TX
Flameleaf sumac problems
I have three flameleaf sumacs, which were planted last December. One is doing very well, but two are losing their leaves. First, black spots appear on the leaves, then the leaves turn yellow and wilt,...
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Austin, TX
Lantanas failing to bloom, turning brown
The lantana in my front yard does not bloom, is not overwatered but does get watered, leaves turned brown and plants generally have not grown. The lantana in the rest of the yard are in bloom and lo...
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Austin, TX
Is there any bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) in Austin, TX
Hi there! Can you tell me if there is any Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) growing in the Austin area? Thank you.
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Austin, TX
Fruiting of non-native fig trees
Regarding a Fig Tree that I have, it's about 3yrs old. Last year it gave us about a handful of figs and they were good. This year the small tree is full of figs and they remain green. This summer I h...
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Austin, TX
Shrubs with berries for birds and growing small red oak tree
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Recently, I saw a short article about attracting birds to one's yard. The article said to plant "berry-bearing" shrubs, but didn't name any specific shrubs. Could you tell...
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Austin, TX
Oak leaf blister on live oak tree
Our live oak tree has a bad case of oak leaf blister and is really in need of a trim. Will it hurt the tree if we have it trimmed now? Thanks.
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austin, TX
Freeze damage to non-native Sago Palms in Austin
Due to the unusually cold winter in Austin my sago palms fronds froze. I have not removed the dead fronds should I? If only the fronds froze when will new fronds start to grow?
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Austin, TX
Plants for no sun in Austin
I need recommendations for shrubs that can withstand no sun, something that possibly blooms but does not attract bees, wasps, or any stinging insects (hummingbirds or butterflies ok).
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Austin, TX
Did pre-emergent herbicide for lawn kill oak tree in Austin?
Your article in today's (May 1st)Austin American-Statesman advised against using herbicides around oaks. Does that include the "pre-emergents" that the lawn care companies use in the Spring? I ha...
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Austin, TX
Need to know about the invasiveness of Datura wrightii.
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently purchased a small Datura wrightii plant for my front garden. I've been researching it, since I know it is quite toxic, and couldn't find a good answer to one quest...
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Austin, TX
Name five non-flowering species at the Wildflower Center.
Can you tell me the names of five non-flowering plant species (true mosses, conifers, ferns) currently growing at your center?
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Austin, TX
Information about non-native Epimedium
What type of barrenwort (Epimedium) will grow well in Central Texas?
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Austin, TX
Best for Austin-non-native loquat or kumquat?
I was wondering which tree is suited better in the Austin,TX, area, the Loquat or the Kumquat, do they lose their leaves in the winter and do they bear fruits?
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