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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!

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Questions From Near You

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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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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Center, TX
Fast-growing evergreens for privacy in Center, TX
I live in East Texas and am looking for a fast growing evergreen for a privacy screen around my backyard. The area gets partial sun and the soil has a lot of clay in it.
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Austin, , TX
How close to a male tree will a new female persimmon need to be planted to ensure pollination in Austin, TX?
I have a male Texas Persimmon in the back corner of my yard. I would like to plant a female Texas Persimmon in the front yard, more than 100 feet away? How far away do you think they should be place...
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Austin, TX
Question about booklet, Native and Adapted Landscape Plants
In the booklet"Native and Adapted Landscape Plants for Central Texas", the light requirements for some plants are written in a way that I do not understand. Is Sun/Part Shade different from Part Sha...
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Austin, TX
Native flowers for color year round
I have the opportunity to recommend plants for a religious organization. They want YEAR ROUND color in some areas, much like how commercial sites use annual color. I would like to suggest native/ada...
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Austin, TX
American basswood in Austin
Where can I purchase a fledgling linden tree in Austin?
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Austin, TX
Hardiness of bluebonnet seeds under water and white bluebonnets
I was trying to find out more about the hardiness of bluebonnets. We own a lot on Lake Travis near Spicewood Texas. As you are probably aware, the lake was very low this spring due to a drought that ...
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Austin, TX
Native plants for heavy clay soil in east Austin
I live in East Austin and have very thick clay soil on my property. I also have a lot of shade and partial sun/shade. Can you suggest some native plant varieties that are well-adapted to these condi...
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austin, TX
Large tree and smaller specimen tree for Austin, Texas
We are in the process of removing two Silver Maples in our front yard planted by the previous owner of our house. We live close to the Wildflower Center and have very shallow soil on top of rock. We...
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Austin, TX
Planting time for black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
When is the best time to plant Black-eyed Susan seeds in Central Texas?
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Austin, TX
Plants good for repelling bugs in Austin, TX
I need help on what type of plants or herbs are good for keeping bugs away from the house and also something that would be good for in the house for bugs?
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Austin, TX
Evergreen vine for Austin
In addition to coral honeysuckle, carolina jasmine, and crossvine can you recommend any other fairly hardy, evergreen vines that will do well draping from the top of a wall in Austin, Texas. Exposure ...
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Austin, TX
Shade groundcover under Magnolia in Austin, Texas
I have a 50' Magnolia grandiflora casting full shade underneath with very shallow and some exposed roots. I have Horseherb (calyptocarpus vialis)in the area and have been encouraging it to spread und...
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Austin, TX
Mixed native plantings for steep slope in Austin
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: We wrote to you recently about plantings for a fairly steep slope in a park in Austin. We had asked about grasses and perennials. An article about planting on slopes in this mo...
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Austin, TX
When to prune Texas betony (Stachys coccinea)
I bought Texas Betony plants several years ago at Wildflower Days. They are thriving, but a bit leggy. Somewhere I read that they should be cut back several times during the year. Now I can't find...
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Austin, TX
Best time to plant wildflowers
I am in charge of the construction of a 3-4 mile nature trail around our organization's property and was wondering, 'when is it best to plant wildflowers?
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Austin, TX
Thrips on non-native roses in Austin
How can I get rid of thrips that have totally invaded all of my roses?
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Austin, TX
Non-poisonous evergreen shrub for Houston playground
I would like to know what type of small bush or shrub would be appropriate to plant in a children's playground in Houston, TX. It will be located in full sun. I would like it to retain its leaves yea...
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Austin, TX
What is the acreage of your gardens?
The wildflower gardens and display areas comprise about how much, either percentage or acreage, of the entire 279 acres at the Wildflower Center? Does that also include areas for growing flowers for ...
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