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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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Questions From Near You

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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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
Transplanting False Gaura in Austin
I am transplanting my false gaura. Do they transplant well, and should I cut them back?
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Austin, TX
Vascular wilt in Rhus virens
Hi Smarty: Our evergreen sumac grew beautifully this spring (it is about 2 years old -- we got it at the LBJ Wildflower Center plant sale). Then its leaves suddenly drooped last month (May) and turn...
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Austin, TX
Keeping deer and rabbits out of plants
Are there plants that are both deer- and rabbit-resistant? Something is eating the plants that the deer seem to leave alone--snipping off the flowers at the top of the stems (ie, zinnias and plumbago...
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Austin, TX
Privacy hedge for shady area
We are looking to plant a privacy hedge around the perimeter of our yard that will grow to 6 or 8 feet tall - some of the perimeter is exposed to sun and we will likely go with evergreen sumac - howev...
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Austin, TX
Trimming Texas mountain laurel in Austin
Is there a specific time to trim established mountain laurels? Should I cut off the dried seed pods since they are weighing down the branches?
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Austin, TX
Are Texas mallows the source of marshmallows?
Did marshmallows that we eat originate from our native Texas mallow plants?
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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
Need advice for pruning a young Bur Oak tree in Austin, TX.
I grew a beautiful bur oak from seed, and three years later it is now taller than I am. I hate to cut anything off this tree and hurt it, but there are two branches that are rubbing together and growi...
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Austin, TX
Removing fading blooms from iris
Iris maintenance: when blooms begin to fade do I pluck off just the bloom? cut off the entire stalk? leave it alone? Some blooms grow on stalks without leaves and some on stalks with leaves.
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Austin, TX
Danger of oak wilt infestation in trees with storm-damaged limbs
A recent severe storm in Southwest Austin broke large branches and trunks on many Live Oaks in my neighborhood, including my next door neighbors'. Can this invite Oak Wilt? I'm worried about my tree...
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Austin, TX
Whitefly infestation in roses and salvia
Several of my outdoor plants (including Knockout roses and salvia) have a white residue on the stems. If I touch it a white bug jumps off. The residue can be wiped off or sprayed off, but the little...
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Austin, TX
Evergreen shrub with dense base for screen in Austin
I just bought a house in Austin and am looking for an evergreen shrub to use as a thick hedge between my elevated yard and a bus stop. The only shrubs I can come up with tend to get thin toward the b...
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Austin, TX
Invasiveness of non-native Asian jasmine
I have a lot of Asian Jasmine planted as groundcover in various beds. The last year or so it has become unruly and is now invading my St. Augustine, working its way into the lawn itself. Is there an...
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Austin, TX
Need for sunlight for Sophora secundiflora to bloom
My mountain laurel doesn't bloom. We live in Oak Hill and planted it about seven years ago. It bloomed one year at about age three or four. Since then nothing. What can I do? It only gets indire...
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Austin, TX
Identification of Monarda citriodora on roadsides
What is the name of the lavender wildflower so prevalent right now throughout the Texas hill country? It's an upright stalk that has lighter and darker lavender petals with rows of green leaves sepa...
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Austin, TX
Foam on Salvia greggii in Austin
I have 7 Salvia greggii plants. I am seeing a white foam like substance on tip of all of them (where flowers use to be). Any suggestions on what is happening to the plants?
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Austin, TX
Getting rid of giant ragweed in Austin
How can I get rid of a large field of giant ragweed? Part of the site is a steep slope, which is difficult to mow. I want to encourage native grasses but they are crowded out by the ragweed.
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