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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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

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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Austin (Bee Cave), TX
Need to identify Cherry laurel varietyin Bee Caves, TX
I recently had cherry laurels installed in my yard for privacy. Unfortunately, the landscaper does not know what type of cherry laurel they are. The tag from the tree says Che-Com which to me might in...
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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
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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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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Austin, TX
Chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergeii) weeping sap
Help, help! Our Chinkapin Oak is weeping sap along the trunk. There is no sign of damage. What can we do?
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Austin, TX
Will the non-native tamarind tree survive in Austin?
We live in the Texas Hill Country and we were given a Tamarind Tree as a gift (which the givers thought was a Pride of Barbados). Is it advisable to plant this in the ground, since it is sensitive to...
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Austin, TX
Need an ID on a wisteria in Austin
I bought a different type wisteria several years ago, before I started trying to grow native plants. It is the same type wisteria as the one planted at Threadgills on Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX....
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Austin, TX
Understory trees for large trees in Austin
I'm blessed with some beautiful large live oaks, burr oaks, and cedar elms in my front yard in southwest Austin. I'd like to plant some understory trees among them. The trees would get dappled lig...
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Austin, TX
Malpighia glabra for Austin
Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I am planting native Malpighia in a raised bed that was specially prepared for growing roses (soil and amendments). This bed has been left fallow for several years. Do I need t...
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Austin, TX
Plant identification of yellow daisy-like flowers blooming in Austin
What is the name of the yellow daisy-like bush that is blooming now all over the Hill Country of Texas? The plant varies from 3 to 5 feet. The petals on the bloom vary from 8 to 10. The flowers are...
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Austin, TX
Pruning for Spring
When should I cut back (and how far should I cut back) the following plants in order to promote growth in the spring: Salvia gregii, Salvia leucantha, Ruellia (Mexican petunia), Plumbago, Sku...
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Austin, TX
Why is my Horstail falling over in Austin?
I have a Horsetail plant. It was doing great but now, for the last few months, its not growing straight! Its falling over. Why?
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Austin, TX
Viability of bluebonnets in Portland, Oregon
My best friend lives in Portland, Oregon, and misses Texas wildflowers terribly. I would really love to send her some bluebonnet seeds (or even other native wildflowers) but I'm wondering if there a...
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Austin, TX
Fruit-bearing crabapple for Austin, TX
Is there a fruitbearing crabapple that will live in Austin. If so, what soil type is required?
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Austin, TX
Wildflower to succeed bluebonnets
I am looking for a "partner" plant for bluebonnets? What perennial plant doesn't really "appear" until after April? What I want is a sea of bluebonnets in March and April but when they go dorm...
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Austin, TX
Vines for a cliff in backyard
I have a large (25 ft) cliff in my backyard. Its too large to use a retaining wall and occasionally some of the caliche slides down. I'm planning on planting vines at the top and letting them drape...
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Austin, TX
Mail order sources for Salvia
Do you know of any mail order sources for Salvia?
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Austin, TX
What is wrong with the bluebonnets?
This doesn't seem to be a very good year for bluebonnets. What's up with that?
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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
Diagnosis of problem and treatment of damaged Cedar Elm
Part of our mature Cedar Elm looked damaged last summer. We were advised by a landscape designer to spray it with Kocide in late January as a treatment. Is there an alternative to this? Should we h...
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