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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 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

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
Invasive nature of non-native Zoysia japonica grass
I have been reading up on Zoysia grass and I am curious about its invasive nature. Is there a good way to keep it from going into my neighbors' yards? I was thinking about using some edging material...
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Austin, TX
Propagation and transplanting of Vernonia lindheimeri
I have located a wooly ironweed plant and have taken some seeds to start. This is the only ironweed I have seen. Any suggestions on how to start the seed? Also, if development of the property appea...
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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
Grafting to a cherry laurel for edible fruit in Austin
I was the one who asked earlier about grafting to a Cherry Laurel. I will happily graft a local plum on it, say a Mexican Plum or American Plum or one of the naturalized peaches (a friend has an India...
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AUSTIN, TX
Native trees for cemetery plot in Karnes County, TX
I'm looking for a tree for a cemetery plot in Karnes County at Pana Maria. There will be someone to regularly water it. I understand live oak and pecan are native to the area. I assume these would...
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Austin, TX
Need information about the toxicity of some newly acquired plants in Austin, TX
Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I just got a Carolina Buckthorn tree, a silk tassel, a wafer ash, and an escarpment black cherry tree. I wonder if any of these trees produce berries that would be poisonous to ...
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austin, TX
Alternatives to invasive, non-native Vinca minor as ground cover
I live in Central Austin. I want to plant a large area of Vinca minor since it is fast growing and offers attractive ground cover. I assume it requires little care with the rain being sufficient for i...
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Austin, TX
Wildflower seeds to plant in summer in Austin
Are there any wildflower seeds that can be planted during the summer months in Austin, TX?
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Austin, TX
Need help with a Pecan tree that has been topped in Austin, TX.
Hi Mr. Smarty Plants! I have a pecan tree on my property that was topped by the previous owners. I have searched high and low for information on how to correctly prune a tree that has already been ...
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Austin, TX
Disappearing oranges from Satsuma orange in Austin
I had many tiny future oranges on my Satsuma Orange Tree until a few days ago. Suddenly, all were gone except one. They weren't on the ground and the tree itself seems incredibly healthy. It is gr...
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austin, TX
Variegated leaves on Ungnadia speciosa (Mexican buckeye)
I grew some mexican buckeyes from seed last year and one of them has variegated leaves. I haven't seen this before- have I just not looked at enough mexican buckeyes up close or is this an uncommon f...
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Austin, TX
Spring blooming Acacia farnsiana in Austin
I've been seeing a large shrub, possibly tree, around Austin this spring - and it is covered is small ball-like orangish-yellow blooms - very tightly covered in these blooms. From the car, it looks ...
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Austin, TX
Erosion control plants for steep slope in Austin, TX
I'm interested in finding native plants, either perennials or grasses, that would help control erosion on a fairly steep slope. These plants would be in a park, and volunteers will be watering the pl...
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Austin, TX
Freeze damage to Mexican olive in Austin
I have a Mexican Olive tree/bush. It is young - about 8 ft. tall. This last freeze in Austin made many of its leaves turn black. I got this from your database: "Its native range extends no farther...
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Austin, TX
Trimming American beautyberry in Austin
I have recently developed an interest in plants and since I work for a country club taking care of all the House & Grounds Maintenance, the landscaping is certainly a part of my work. I have a questi...
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Austin, TX
Evergreen, deer resistant native plants for Austin
Are there any evergreen, deer resistant native plants that thrive in Austin?
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