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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
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
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
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
Plant growing in mid-September at Wildflower Center
Would you please identify the pink/mauve composite flower growing in the members garden. A large grouping is growing in the bed between the center bed and the pathway up to the demonstration gardens. ...
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Austin, TX
Wildflowers for wedding mid-spring in Austin, TX
My fiancÚ and I are both native Texans, and we are looking to have a beautiful yet simple wedding on March 31, 2007. We would love to use TX wildflowers. Our colors are white, orange, and blue. Wo...
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Austin, TX
Possible woodpecker damage in Monterrey Oaks
I live in NW Austin and have two Monterey Oak trees, each about 30 - 45 gal in size. They both were planted approximately 9 months ago. Both trees seem to have some cracking bark on the trunk along w...
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Austin, TX
Possibility of symbiotic relationship between cedar elm and ashe juniper
Is there a symbiotic relationship between cedar elm and ashe juniper? We have a small ashe juniper sapling and a small cedar elm sapling growing near each other (actually, we planted the juniper 2 yea...
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Austin, TX
Plant identification
Can you identify a shrub in my backyard? It has odd looking seed pods with three chambers and hard black seeds inside roughly 1/8" in diameter. The pods themselves are brown, hard shell, and hang d...
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Austin, TX
Looking for chinaberry trees to buy and plant in Austin
I am looking to buy china berry small trees to plant in Austin , any suggestion where i might be able to buy them thank you
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Austin, TX
Native grasses for shade for Austin
I just read with interest your article on multi-species native lawns. However, I believe the suggested grasses don't grow well in the shade, is this true. Are there any suggestions for native (mult...
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Austin, TX
Plant identification
Just after the last little rain we got, I noticed a small, inconspicuous plant in my front yard that was sprouting a structure that looks for all the world like a pitcher plant. It is not, however, an...
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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
Winter plant for area with poor drainage.
I have a 2 ft by 15 ft bed between the concrete patio and the pool that gets run off from the porch roof. I can't gutter the roof, so the bed can get very wet and stay that way for some time. It face...
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Austin, TX
Student project on non-native bush snap beans
I am doing a science project for school that involves bush snap beans. For my research I am required to have at least one interview with a professional on plants. I was hoping that you would be able ...
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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
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
Availability of orchids native to Austin, TX area
Hi Mr. Smarty plants, I'm looking for orchids native to the Austin Texas area. I'd like to incorporate them into my pond and waterfall garden. Can you give me some names. I'd also like to know ...
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Austin, TX
Identification of plants emerging from "wildflower mix" of seeds
I planted a "wildflower mix" a couple months ago, and now I have a bunch of plants growing that I'm not sure what they are. Some of them are starting to make buds, and I've been looking on the in...
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Austin, TX
Instructions on rainwater harvesting
Do you have any information on the construction of domestic rain fall catch tanks and water distribution systems? We are currently in a drought-stricken area of Texas and are very interested in constr...
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