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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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

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
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
Should I plant a Beech Tree in Austin, TX
I'm considering planting a beech tree but most of the gardeners I've talked to think it won't do well in central Texas. The main issue seems to be an inadequate dormancy period due to our mild wint...
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Austin, TX
Diseased Mexican plum tree in Austin
I have a grove of 5 year old Mexican plum trees one of which is oozing sap from its trunk and a branch appears to have died. Is there anything that I can do to help the tree besides removing the dead...
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Austin, TX
Replacements for non-native purple fountain grass in Austin
Hi-- Just found out that the purple fountain grass I bought (fortunately on sale) is a) not native and b)not perennial. Dang it! If I can find the pots I'm taking it back. I have a part-shade wel...
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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
Plant identification
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Ever since we received this (much needed and wonderful) rain in Austin, my gardens and yard are being swamped with these tiny, green clover-like plants. I've never seen it ...
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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
Introduced invasive Melia azedarach along Shoal Creek in Austin
Along the Shoal Creek Trail in Austin are many flowering trees with sparse clusters of small pink/purple, star-shaped flowers with a dark red center stalk, blooming now in April. They have a fragrance...
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Austin, TX
Deer resistant wildflower seed mix
I'm looking for a wildflower seed mix that is deer resistant (they walk right through this area), drought tolerant, full sun, perennial or self-seeding annual, for Austin, Texas. Any recommendations...
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Austin, TX
Source for sensitive briar in Austin
My husband, young son and I are beginning a landscaping project at my son's school where they have a colorwheel garden. Our section is the green section. There are already some plants in the plot and...
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Austin, TX
Native wildflowers tolerant of lower water and lots of sun
I live in Austin Texas and have a small bed in the front of the house which faces the east with no shade. I am not much of a yard person so would like to plant some Native plants that don't need a lo...
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Austin, TX
Coralberry in Central Texas has lost leaves
I planted a coralberry this past spring. It seemed to be doing well, but then I noticed some of its leaves were missing. Gradually, all the leaves disappeared, from the top of the plant down. It is ab...
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Austin, TX
Cleaning up neglected yard after construction in Austin
We have just finished an extreme makeover on the inside of our house, but all the heavy equipment in the yard left us needing a complete makeover of the outside. The property was previously neglected...
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austin, TX
Central Texas plants for dry partial shade
I live in Austin Texas. My front garden area has rocky dry soil with intermittent sunlight and shade, maybe 2 to 4 hours of sunlight a day. Herbs do great. What perennial flowers (for some color) w...
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Austin, TX
Transplanting agave in Austin
I have an 8 foot tall agave (americana?) planted in my front yard. It has been there quite happily for over 20 years. How would I go about transplanting this to another location? Thanks!
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Austin, TX
Plant replacements for non-native invasives in Austin, TX
I live in Austin, TX, I have a large lot and small house. I want to do some selective planting on the back half of my lot. Currently there are large live oaks, cedar elm. hackberry, cedar, Texas persi...
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Austin, TX
What is the sticky stuff coming out of the trees in Austin?
Hello - I live in Austin TX, and in the past half month or so, have been noticing much sticky, sweet sap being exuded from trees. In a normal year I only notice the crepe myrtles doing this, but this...
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