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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
Plant identification
I am trying to identify a plant I saw this past weekend in San Diego, California. It was a low growing shrub planted along the road near a beach. The flowers looked like large star jasmine, leaves wer...
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Austin, TX
Curb appeal for sale of house
Help! We're selling our house soon and need to redo our flowerbeds in the front of the house (facing north, gets partial sunlight throughout the day) in the coming weeks but don't have a clue where...
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Austin, TX
Management of xeriscape garden and rock mulch
I have a large xeriscape garden; unfortunately, it is located near some pear trees which drop tons of leaves each fall/winter. The garden is difficult to clean of leaves until I cut back the plants. ...
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Austin, TX
Getting rid of King Ranch bluestem (Bothriochloa ischaemum)
I ranch approximately 1500 acres of land seven miles southeast of Marble Falls , Texas . At present, the land is inundated with King Ranch Bluestem; which as you know, kills by smothering all other na...
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Austin, TX
Did Mexican fire bush (Hamelia patens) survive winter cold?
I have a Mexican fire bush that I planted last spring and it bloomed beautifully last summer. It browned and we cut it back to the ground. Right now it's showing no signs of life and I'm afraid it m...
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Austin, TX
Non-native purple lantana
I have found some purple trailing lantana on our land. (This land has never been inhabited, as far as I know of.) This is not one of the yellow/pink or yellow/red native varieties. Is this indeed a...
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Austin, TX
Eating green wild plums
As a child in south Austin I always relished eating green plums beginning in mid-May. My aunt had wild plum trees - more like bushes really - that fruited starting in late April. (Sadly, they died whe...
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Austin, TX
Native trees with yellow fall leaves
Hello, I want to plant a medium sized tree in my back yard that has yellow foliage in the fall. I've seen Yellow (in the fall) trees in my part of town (south Austin around West William Cannon)th...
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Austin, TX
Unusual green fruit
Unknown "fruit" in my backyard I have large (softball size) nobbly green orbs finding their way into my backyard. They sort of look like a tennis ball left out in the rain to rot, but they are o...
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Austin, TX
Sombrerito Mexicano
Ratibida columnifera, almost universally called Mexican hat in English, is native to Texas and also to parts of Mexico, which leads me to wonder what the vernacular name is in Mexican Spanish. Google...
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Austin, TX
Container vegetable gardening in Austin
Is vegetable container gardening an option with Austin's hot summers? I live in an apartment and I really want to plant an organic vegetable and herb container garden. I'm having a hard time findin...
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Austin, TX
Pollination of non-native cucumber plants in Austin
I have 3 cucumber plants that are in planter boxes hanging from my wrought iron fence and they use it as a trellis. All 3 plants are producing only female flowers. No male. None of them have produc...
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Austin, TX
Deer-resistant ground covers
Are there any deer resistant ground covers? Our asiatic jasmine has been eaten up by the deer.
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Austin, TX
Propagating yaupons (Ilex vomitoria)
Dear Mr. Smarty, I enjoy your weekly tips printed in the Austin Statesman. We live in the Texas hill country where the soil is essentially rock. One of the nice benefits of our yard and the are...
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Austin, TX
PVC pipes for irrigation in ground in Austin
Mr. Smarty Plants,What are your thoughts on installing PVC pipes into the ground around trees and shrubby trees? A classmate's grandmother had a pipe pushed or pounded into the ground near her speci...
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Austin, TX
Determine oak wilt in red oaks
I am concerned my red oaks have oak wilt. How can I tell what is wrong with them?
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Austin , TX
Grass or ground cover for sun/part shade in Austin
I live in Southwest Austin (a couple of miles from the Wildflower Center) and I would like to plant some grass in my backyard. I have a small yard with several oak trees and they have been cut back to...
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