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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!

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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
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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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
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
Planting Muhlenbergia rigens in Austin
I have a question about when I can plant Deer Muhly (AKA Muhlenbergia Rigens). It's pretty hot now, but I would like to know how much it needs to cool down before I can plant these grasses?
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Austin, TX
Should I plant a potted Texas Star Hibiscus in August in Austin, TX?
I bought a red Texas Star Hibiscus, in March, in a 6" pot and 2 ft tall. I repotted it to a 12" clay pot, put it under deck roof near edge, where it gets a bit of morning sun and filtered light res...
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Austin, TX
Hail damage to Cenizo in Austin
We have some Texas sage Silverado. After the latest hail, they look very sad. If about the half of plant is OK and the other half looks dried/dead?, should we prune the dried half? Are they ever comin...
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Austin, TX
Recommended irrigation schedule for Austin, TX
With the very hot summer and the conservation of water so important, could you let me know what would be a good watering schedule? I am fortunate enough to have a sprinkler system so I can set my pop...
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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
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
Winter care of native perennials in Austin
Last spring I planted some wildflowers suggested by Deryn Davidson. they did extremely well. I planted-Gulf Muhly,Big Muhly,Red Yucca,Purple Cone Flower,Wine Cup, Large Buttercup And Mealy Blue sage, ...
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Austin, TX
Plants for October wedding in Texas Hill Country
I am planning an October wedding at a Texas Hill Country vineyard. I would like to incorporate some local, seasonal plants in the floral design. Can you recommend some hill country plants, flowers, ...
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Austin, TX
Planting pecan trees in Austin
What's the protocol for planting pecan trees in the Austin area? What do you have to do to get them to grow and how long does it take? Can you plant just one?
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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
When is Texas mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) mature
Can you tell me the life cycle for the native Texas mesquite? I have found one source that says it matures in 2-5 years, but no other sources confirm this. We are hoping to classify mesquite flooring ...
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Austin, TX
Trimming of Pineapple Sage and Salvia Greggii
I live in Central Austin. My question is: When is the best time to trim back Pineapple Sage and Salvia Gregii? How far back should these plants be trimmed?
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Austin, TX
Elimination of nutgrass from native flower bed
Nutgrass!*#!* My new bed in NE Austin wraps around a hot sunny SW street corner. Grass wouldn't grow there [I wouldn't water it.] I removed the turf [mostly stickers] to a depth of about 4", carefu...
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Austin, TX
Webbing on the bark of a hackberry tree.
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants. We have a large hackberry tree in our back yard that has what appears to be extensive spider webbing covering large areas of the bark at the trunk . . and extending well up th...
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