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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
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
Place to purchase Texas Madrone tree
Where can I purchase a Texas Madrone Tree to plant in my yard?
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Austin, TX
Instructions for sending photos for identifying plants
Mr. Plants, Does your Ask.... form allow photo attachments, so you can see the uncommon native plants that interest us. Thanx.
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Austin, TX
Transplant shock for non-native Plumbago auriculata
I planted some full plumbago plants that were in containers, in a partially shaded area, they had beautiful flowers when I purchased them, but have since lost them all and the plant is looking very wi...
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Austin, TX
Insect attack on bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Something is attacking the bur oak that was planted in 2007. Insects are not on the leaves, but the edges of some leaves look chewed back. Others look brown around the edges. Do you have any idea w...
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Austin, TX
Butterfly garden in Austin
I am located in North Central Austin, and just bought a house with a large back yard. One half is shade-part sun, and the other half is full sun. The shade from three large (55-60) foot trees. I am...
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Austin, TX
Wispy plant to put behind a waterfall
Needing a 10-20ft wispy ______ to plant behind our waterfall to help block out road noise. We live in Austin. I've looked at the Mexican weeping bamboo but are there other options?
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Austin, TX
Butterfly plants for Austin
Hummingbirds come to our Mexican honeysuckle early in the spring, and then come late in the summer when the Turk's caps bloom. We have rocky soil, and a fairly shady garden. What could we plant that ...
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Austin, TX
Citrus trees for Austin
I am looking for citrus that grows in the Austin,Tx area. Could you offer any suggestions please?
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Austin, TX
Identity of 50 ft. tree
I live in Austin and I have a tall (50-ft) tree outside my window. It's deciduous and has shiny, deep green, spear-tip, serrated leaves that vary in size from about hand- to dinner-plate size. I've ...
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Austin, TX
Native evergreen for privacy screen
I want to incorporate a tree in my landscaping near my house (10-15 feet) for privacy, what are the best trees that don't shed their leaves and have nice flowers and their roots wont destroy my found...
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Austin, TX
Pure white primroses (Oenothera speciosa)
Hello MS. Smarty Plants! I have wildflowers instead of grass in my backyard (mow once a year and it's spectacularly beautiful) and I noticed some pure white primroses (the rest are all pink or wi...
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Austin, TX
Natural fibers for lashing bamboo in weaving
I live in Austin and am looking for plants I can use for weaving fibers, e.g. lashing bamboo for a small project. What plants and parts do you recommend? What resources do you recommend for informatio...
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Austin, TX
Healthy black walnut trees from volunteer saplings
We just purchased a piece of property in the Texas Hill Country. There is a stump of a large black walnut tree that has four healthy looking samplings shooting up. Each is about 10 feet high. The o...
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Austin, TX
Groundcover for sun/part shade in Austin
I live in Southwest Austin and I have a small backyard that has part sun/part shade. I have no grass in the backyard and my soil is not the healthiest, so I would like to plant some groundcover versus...
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Austin, TX
Leaf-cutter ants on non-native crape myrtle
We have a problem with cutter ants. I lose my entire Crepe Myrtle tree every year. All of the pest control personnel I ask do not have a solution. Can you please suggest something to eradicate thes...
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Austin, TX
Fruit trees from seeds
Will fruit trees (primarily peach) produce fruit if grown from a seed?
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