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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Sunset Valley, TX
Variation in leaves for Vitis mustangensis
Hi, I am doing a sculpture of a mustang grape vine in limestone. In seeking a good leaf image I notice that there are both roundish shaped leaves and highly divided or "fingered" shapes on your sit...
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Austin , Texas, TX
Clipping of beans from newly planted Tecoma stans
I purchased a Esperanza Plant in a pot from a nursery in April of 2008. We planted it and it is doing fine, but came with blooms and beans. Do I need to do clip or prune the beans at this stage of g...
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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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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
Fruit on Mexican olive in Austin
Does Mexican Olive set fruit in Austin? Does there need to be a male and female tree or not. How old does the plant have to be to set fruit? Mine is three years old but no olives. I need to know ...
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Austin, TX
Native turf grasses for shady lawn
I am interested in planting a native lawn using the grasses discussed on the website (2lb of buffalograss, 1½ lb of bluegrama and at least 4 oz of curly mesquite). My front yard is relatively small w...
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Austin, TX
Is Thalia dealbata toxic to dogs?
A pond in a park frequented by dogs contains Thalia dealbata and I have seen numerous dogs eating the roots with relish, which we discourage, of course. They seem to really enjoy it though. Aft...
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Austin, TX
Brown ryegrass in Austin lawn
We had rye grass planted in our yard last fall. It was beautiful all winter. Now it is brown but the St. Augustine has not yet taken over, so there are large portions of the lawn with an abundance o...
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Austin, TX
Different shades of green in Taxodium distichum (bald cypress)
I have two bald cypress trees 50 feet apart, but there was very different soil in the two holes. One was a clayey soil and the other was much more the Austin limestone soil. The trees are about 2 ye...
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Austin, TX
Turks cap not blooming in Austin
Why is my Turks Cap not blooming? It gets about an hour of sun in the morning, then shade for the rest of the day. It gets watered with the sprinkler system that waters our lawn.
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Austin, TX
Year-round flowering in Laredo TX
I'm trying to plant a variety of native plants in my mom's garden in Laredo, TX. The thing that I find a challenge is that she wants year round flowers. Can you suggest a few native flowering plan...
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Austin, TX
Leaves turning black on Agave americana
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants- We have a ~5-year-old agave americana that began to have leaves turn yellow (to black in some areas) just this past spring (2008). A neighbor's tree had started to overhang t...
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Austin, TX
Native sun shrubs and perennials to replace St. Augustine
Hi, I live in Austin and I'm removing the St. Augustine from the southwest side of our house. This area gets intense sun all afternoon, and I'd really like to use a combination of native shrubs and...
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Austin, TX
What to plant between patio flagstones in Austin, TX?
I would like to plant something between my flagstones on the patio. Something that doesn't require a lot of water, low growing, and can stand a little to moderate traffic. It is in a shade to partly...
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Austin, TX
Fall blooming time for Copper Canyon Daisies
None of our Copper Canyon Daisies bloomed this year. Can you tell us why? They have been prolific bloomers in past summers.
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Austin, TX
Sun requirement for native turf grasses
What are the sun requirements needed for the native grass seed mix you recently released? I have a pretty well shaded back yard. Will this stuff grow well in this condition?
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Austin, TX
Ground covers to enrich soil over winter in Austin
I am about to have a baby so will not be working my vegetable garden from about now (September) through the winter or spring. Is there something (a grass, maybe?) that I can plant now that will benefi...
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Austin , TX
Caring for non-native African violet
How do you care for the African violet?
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Austin, TX
Visual difference between Yarrow and Queen Anne's lace in Austin, TX?
What is different, visually, between yarrow and Queen Anne's lace?
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