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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
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
Grafting edible plums onto Cherry Laurel in Austin
Grafting edible plums onto Cherry Laurel - possible? Insane? What? Could I do that? Could I graft, say, Green Gage Plum, or Mexican Plum, or Saturn Peach, on a Cherry Laurel and have any success? I ha...
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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
Schedule for pollen and nectar for bees in Austin
For beekeeping in western Travis County (Cuernavaca at Bee Caves) I need to know what nectar and pollen is flowing when. I have asked my local beekeeping club, but they are in Blackland Prairie and d...
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Austin, TX
Division of non-native Lamb's Ear plant in Austin
I have a lambs' ear plant that has gone wild, and I would like to divide and transplant part of the plant. Advice? Live in Austin, TX. 78757
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Austin, TX
Tentative identification of Ibervillea lindheimeri
I live close to the Center and found a plant in the park near my house I'd like identified. It was a vine with bright red fruit on it. The fruit was about the size of a cherry tomato but was oblong...
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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
Is Black Cherry allelopathic from Austin
Is the Black Cherry an appropriate tree to plant in north Austin as a shade tree? Your site says this tree may be allelopathic to garden plants . Do you know specifically which plants it might help o...
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austin, TX
Privacy plantings to replace invasive bamboo
We are looking for good screening plants for our new house (the houses are very close). We like the way bamboo looks it is tall and narrow for the most part, but we do not want bamboo since it is inv...
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Austin, TX
Can I grow Pawpaw in Central Texas?
Do you have any tips for growing pawpaws (not papaya) in central texas? It appears to be at the edge or slightly beyond its range, but maybe if I'm nice to it.. Thanks
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Austin, TX
Seeds for Fall bloom in Austin
What seeds should I be planting now for fall blooms here in Austin?
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Austin, TX
Succulents, wildflowers and grasses for Austin
I live on a bluff over Lake Travis and am replanting two beds in front of my driveway with Mexican Feathergrass and Agave. What other grasses or wildflowers could I mix in with the Mexican Feathergra...
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Austin, TX
Texas Pistachio trees dropping leaves in Austin
I have several Texas Pistachio that are about 13 years old. Despite good rainfall in Travis county this year, they seem to be losing most of their new leaf growth now in early June. Leaves are simpl...
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Austin, TX
Dealing with beetles feeding on cholla cactus
Hi Mr. Smarty Pants, I bought a Cylindropuntia imbricata from the Wildflower center and it was growing like crazy. I recently noticed a lot of beetles feeding on it. Some are black and some are gra...
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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
Cottonwood seed clogging air conditioner in Austin
My husband and I recently moved into a rental house that has a very tall cottonwood tree in the backyard. It has been shedding its seeds all over our yard since the beginning of May and seems to still...
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Austin, TX
Beetles in spineless prickly pear in Austin
I have an enormous spineless prickly pear in my front garden. It's about 6 feet tall, and 6 feet wide. It has blossoming yellow flower. However, it also has large colonies of black beetle-ish bugs li...
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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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