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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

Austin (Driftwood), TX
Propagation of Lime Prickly Ash in Austin
We found only one small what we think is Zanthoxylum fagara or Lime Prickly Ash, Colima on our 8 acres, and the deer had apparently recently broken the main stem. I quickly made 6 or 7 cuttings, dippe...
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West Lake Hills, TX
Live oaks dying in Austin, TX?
I had my live oak trees trimmed in October(it had been over 5 years) by a reputable Austin company. The tree canopies were not very thick to begin with, but throughout the winter, some trees have los...
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West Lake Hills, TX
How Can I Tell an Invasive Thistle from a Native
Mr Smarty Plants, I have some thistles coming up in my yard. I'd like to keep them if they are native, but not if they are invasive or non-native. How can I tell? My yard is a wild area in West Lak...
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West Lake Hills, TX
Native substitute for traditional Christmas tree
Could you give some recommendations for a substitute of the traditional Christmas tree used during the holiday season? The low light/humidity conditions in the home is a challenge under any circumsta...
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Austin, TX
Transplant shock in Texas natives garden
Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I thought that my new Texas Natives garden was recuperating from ALL the rain. But, suddenly, my Texas Red Bud and the Eve's Necklace next to it have MANY yellow leaves. Is the...
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Austin, TX
Red-backed bugs on mountain laurel (Sophoro secundiflora)
I found red-backed bugs (in fact two end-to-end like the east Texas love bugs) on my mountain laurel which has been losing leaves. Are these bugs the culprit?
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Austin, TX
Need information about Pignut (Hoffmannseggia glauca).
I wanted to know a little about Pignut (also called Indian Rush-pea and Hog Potato); botanical name Hoffmannseggia glauca. Is it edible, and at what point does the plant produce a tuber (looks like a ...
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Austin, TX
Determination of the sex of Mexican persimmon (Diospyros texana)
Last spring, I planted a persimmon fruit from a Mexican Persimmon. I now have 6 small seedlings coming up. Since they all came from the same seed source - 1 black persimmon, will they all be male tree...
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Austin, TX
Protecting guavas from deer
I have large guavas that the deer love to tear up rubbing their new antlers. When do I need to re-cover the plants with anti-deer nets to be sure to get ahead of them? One night too late and they ar...
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Austin, TX
Transplanting suckers on Cenizo in Austin
Our large silverado sage has produced some volunteers, which are now about 1 ft - 1-1/2 ft tall. Is it possible to transplant them or has the taproot grown too deep for transplanting? Also, will the ...
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Austin, TX
Fruit trees for South Austin.
I live in South, South Austin, just a pinch West of 35 near 1626. I would like to plant some fruit trees in the back yard. Anyone will sell fruit trees, but they don't always grow. What fruiting var...
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Austin, TX
Identification of native grasses little bluestem and switchgrass
If you drive east of Austin on Hwy 71, there is a bluish looking grass that has become very noticeable since the heavy rains in July. The blades grow straight up and each plant is in clump form. Do ...
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Austin, TX
PVC pipes for irrigation in ground in Austin
Mr. Smarty Plants,What are your thoughts on installing PVC pipes into the ground around trees and shrubby trees? A classmate's grandmother had a pipe pushed or pounded into the ground near her speci...
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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
Should I plant a Beech Tree in Austin, TX
I'm considering planting a beech tree but most of the gardeners I've talked to think it won't do well in central Texas. The main issue seems to be an inadequate dormancy period due to our mild wint...
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Austin , TX
Caring for non-native African violet
How do you care for the African violet?
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Austin, TX
Texas natives that are shade tolerant for Austin, TX
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am looking for Texas native plants that are shade tolerant....specifically agaves (How about the Century Agave and the Queen Victoria Agave?) and something to add a splash ...
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Austin, TX
Problems with non-native hollyhock in Austin
Our hollyhocks develop small yellow spots on the leaves; these eventually spread into little swellings on the underside; I think of them as lesions. They spread and the leaf turns brown and shrivels ...
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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
Mechanism for Cenizo bush blooming before rain
Why does cenizo (aka barometer bush) bloom before it rains?
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Austin , TX
Trimming of native Muhlenbergia dumosa (Bamboo grass)
Should Muhlenbergia dumosa (Bamboo grass) be cut down in a similar fashion to other perennial grasses that go dormant in the winter.
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