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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

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
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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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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Austin, TX
What hydrangeas can be grown in Austin?
I was told that oak leaf hydrangea was the only hydrangea variety that could be successfully grown in Austin TX. My oakleaf hydrangea is doing great and I would like to plant other varieties. Can you...
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Austin, TX
Milkweed and non-native goatweed in Austin
Which parks or fields can we find many milkweed and goatweed in Austin, TX? I live in Austin, TX 78757.
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Austin, TX
Native plants for a lizard terrarium
My brother is setting up a terrarium for his lizard and wants advice on some species to put in the tank. He wants plants that generally fit the below description. Can you think of anything fairly c...
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Austin, TX
Leaves being eaten off columbines
Hi, We recently planted some columbines and they have been doing quite well. Just today, we noticed that something has eaten all the leaves off a couple of the plants. Several that are planted clo...
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Austin, TX
Is Ruellia deer resistant
Is Ruellia deer resistant? I have white Ruellia, 18 -20 inches tall.
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Austin, TX
Plant identification for Westcave Preserve
Green greetings! In the canyon at Westcave Preserve last month, I saw a plant I don't know: low, broadish leaves (with rounded edges as I recall); very tall, delicate stems with tiny white flowers sp...
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Austin, TX
Plants for making dyes for organic cotton
Looking to dye my own organic cotton for my new line of organic clothing and I want to grow the plants for making the dyes in my own garden. Any suggestions?
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Austin, TX
Native Indian Rice Grass cultivation as food source
Hi! I'm a student at UT and I ran across a grass while doing some reseach, native to Utah and Arizona, called Indian Ricegrass. It was used as a famine plant among native communities, however, it w...
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Austin, TX
Visual difference between Yarrow and Queen Anne's lace in Austin, TX?
What is different, visually, between yarrow and Queen Anne's lace?
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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
Plant identification
Please help me identify this volunteer plant in my back yard in Austin, TX. It has long thorns. Thank you.
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Austin, TX
Should hole in escarpment live oak be filled in Austin?
Regarding one of my mature escarpment live oaks: should an old hole (about 8" across) in the trunk (caused by the improper cutting of a branch) be filled? A tree service technician advised me that he...
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Austin, TX
Landscaping with native plants in Austin
I'm expanding a flower bed in front of my house and would like to keep it all natives. 1) How do I find out what type of soil I should add? (I live near Hyde Park, Austin and haven't had a soil te...
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Austin, TX
Need plant suggestions for a 700' long privacy screen in Wimberley, TX.
I live in Wimberley. Tx Dot has ruined 700' of my side yard's (& back yard's) privacy by clearing all the plants/trees that had grown up in their right of way adjacent to our property. They're als...
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Austin, TX
Native grass for erosion control on Shoal Creek in Austin, TX
What is the best grass seed for erosion control in Austin, TX - Shoal Creek goes through my back yard and I need to seed some areas and it gets lots of sun.
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Austin, TX
Wildflowers for wedding mid-spring in Austin, TX
My fiancé and I are both native Texans, and we are looking to have a beautiful yet simple wedding on March 31, 2007. We would love to use TX wildflowers. Our colors are white, orange, and blue. Wo...
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Austin, TX
Ground cover for slippery slope
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am looking for a ground cover for a slippery slope. Do you have any suggestions?
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