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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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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
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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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
Do leaves with tannins make good compost from Austin
I have a couple of old native pecan trees in my (or neighbor's) yard that drop bushels and bushels of leaves every fall. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I have a recollection that pecan leaves have...
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Austin, TX
Winter tank pond care in Austin Texas
Suggestions for winterizing a water garden in Austin Texas. Water contained in a 60 gallon aluminum horse tank. Garden contains papyrus, horsetail and water lily. There are no fish in the pond and no...
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Austin, TX
Propagation of lilies by seed
I have collected a large number of lily seeds. How can I get them to grow?
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Austin, TX
Small flowering tree for cemetery in TX
I am looking for a native large shrub or small tree to plant at a cemetery in Pflugerville, TX, preferable something with flowers. I need something that won't have a large root system that would dis...
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Austin, TX
Seed propagation for Goldeneye Sunflower for Austin
I have been unable to find Golden Eye seed, and am therefore thinking about harvesting seed from existing plants. My question is: At what stage of the development do I make the harvest of fully develo...
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Austin, TX
Optimum planting time for perennials and trees
Our group is running out of fall workdays. Is it OK to plant native perennials and small trees in Central Texas during the winter months? Or should we wait now until the spring?
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Austin, TX
Problems with a Monterey Oak in Austin, TX.
I have a large Monterey Oak, planted last year that has not gotten any fuller. Do I need to fertilize and if so, when?
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Austin, TX
Why all the acorns from Austin
What's the explanation for the huge crop of acorns falling from my live oak trees this fall. Do you recommend I dump them in my composter or just throw them in the flower beds? Thanking you in adv...
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Austin, TX
Shade-loving plants for a long, narrow bed.
We are installing a bed with a student-made sculpture dedicated to mothers at our high school in Austin, Texas. The bed is against the two-story school, east facing,and shaded by cedar elm. What can...
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Austin, TX
Year-round privacy screen of evergreen plants.
We need a year-round privacy screen of evergreen plants.
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Austin, TX
removing paper mulberry shoots from lawn
Dear Mr./Ms. Smartypants, I recently moved into an Austin home with the backyard taken over by paper mulberries. There were originally 2-3 large bush/trees, but now that I've removed them I realiz...
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Austin, TX
Non-native Gingko biloba in Austin
Does a Ginkgo biloba tree grow easily in the Austin area? Does it take extra care to keep it alive?
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Austin, TX
Information about non-native tung tree
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a tree growing in my yard in North Austin which I can't identify. I have been told it is a 'tong' or 'tung' tree but can't find it in any reference books. It is de...
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Austin, TX
Neat and tidy, poolside in Austin Texas.
I have a small section between our pool and fence (approx 3 feet wide). I would like to plant something native that obscures the fence but does not create a mess for the pool. The area gets sun most...
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Austin, TX
School wildflower, native plant garden
I am helping my daughter's third grade class plant a very small (about 5 ft. square) wildflower/native plant bed that is in full sun. I'm interested in flowering plants that bloom in the very early...
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Austin, TX
Tough grasses for shade
What kind of grass/groundcover can I put in our backyard that is shady/dry and has 50 lb. high energy dog traffic? Was considering Horse Herb but not sure, as it sounds like you can't get rid of it,...
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austin, TX
Evergreen Hedge for Austin
Hello, We live in Austin and have a yard that is almost fully shaded. We have a few burford holly bushes there, but would like to add some evergreen interest. We would love a tall hedge (around 8 ft...
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