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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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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.

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Martindale, TX
Replanting yaupon in Blanco TX
How do I replant Yaupon in its native area Blanco TX?
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Martindale, TX
Identification of invasive plant
I have found an invasive plant species in Martindale, Texas that I would like to identify for family members. It is taking over their pasture and is difficult to eliminate. It has not bloomed yet but...
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San Marcos, TX
Unidentified stalk, possibly manfreda, from San Marcos TX
I had a very weird stalk pop up in my yard in San Marcos TX this month (May 2014) It bloomed very quickly and appears to be a manfreda but there is no rosette, or leaves of any kind - just the thick o...
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San Marcos, TX
Seeding an established buffalograss lawn to make it denser
We have 5400 sq ft of existing Buffalo grass and would like to know if spreading Buffalo grass SEED would help the existing get more full? I can't seem to find the seed here or the Austin area? And, ...
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San Marcos, TX
Hyptis alata information for San Marcos TX
We saw a plant called Hyptis olata at the WFC plant sale today and cannot find it in the NPIN list. THis is a new one to us. Can you tell us something about it? THanks.
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San Marcos, TX
What are the grey-green plants on oak trees in San Marcos, TX?
The oak trees in the neighborhood in San Marcos, TX, are covered with clumps, or balls, of gray/green fluffy-looking plants. they remind me of bromeliads. You can pull and knock them off; after wind ...
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San Marcos, TX
How to tell the difference between native and non-native thistles
It's thistle time already. There are many plants in the aster family with thistle in their common name. Are "real" thistles only those in the genus Cirsium, or are there others as well? We are tryi...
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San Marcos, TX
Plant ID from San Marcos TX
My dogs love to eat the leaves of a certain little orange wildflower. It might be Wedelia or Texas creeping oxeye. Have you ever heard of this?
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San Marcos, TX
Watering a vegetable garden in San Marcos TX
Can you give me a general idea how long to run my drip irrigation on my raised vegetable garden? Currently I use it twice daily for one hour. The soil feels slightly moist but not very damp. Should...
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San Marcos, TX
What is eating Eve's Necklace in San Marcos TX
A small Styphnolobium affine in my yard is repeatedly being defoliated by something. It courageously leafs out again each time, even in the drought. There is a larger tree nearby that remains untouc...
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San Marcos, TX
Winter survival of non-native Mandevilla vine
Last summer I bought a dwarf mandavilla vine that blooms deep red and planted it in a pot and kept in on my east-facing porch, where its tendrils hung over the pot. I had to move it to shelter for the...
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San Marcos, TX
Enough sun from San Marcos TX
I would like to plant both Lantana urticoides and Salvia farinacea in area that only has morning to 1pm sun..Will this amount of sun be enough?
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San Marcos, TX
How to tell the difference between native and European thistles
How can I tell the difference between invasive (European) thistles and thistles that are native to Texas? And what is the best way to eradicate the invasive varieties?
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San Marcos, TX
Common name of non-native Senna corymbosa (Argentine senna)
I just had a plant identified as Senna corymbosa. Can you tell me whether it's a Texas native and what its common name is? Thanks.
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San Marcos, TX
Offer to send Bumelia to Kansas from Central Texas.
If you send my email to the person who wanted the Bumelia lanuginosa (synonym: Sideroxylon langinosum), I will dig some for him/her.
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San Marcos, TX
Grass for shady area
I need to find a grass that can grow in a shady area, with some sun. Drought resistant and preferably native to the area. Would like to find a sod if possible. I know it's not a great time to plant n...
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San Marcos, TX
Not deer eating the Eve's necklace in San Marcos TX
Dear Mr SP, Re: the Eve's necklace being eaten. I'm so sorry that I didn't tell you in my original question which you were kind enough to answer with the speed of lightening, but I am on the East...
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San Marcos, TX
Wildflowers for decorating for a wedding from San Marcos TX
I am in the early stages of planning my wedding for next year. I would like to decorate with wildflowers in mason jars. I need to set a date! What is the peak season for wildflowers blooming in centra...
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San Marcos, TX
Seed source for thistles in San Marcos TX
Where can I buy thistle seeds?
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San Marcos, TX
Trimmng and fertilizing yucca
Should I cut the stalks of the Yucca that have already bloomed or wait until they dry? How often should I fertilize?
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San Marcos, TX
Sooty mold on Sophora secundiflora in San Marcos, TX.
Dear Mr. SP, We have a Sophora secundiflora that is suffering with very black mold or fungus on most of its leaves. Last year, I washed it leaf-by-leaf with soapy water but it's getting too big t...
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