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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

Leander, TX
Determining gender of Texas Hill Country native trees
How can I identify which (Tx Hill Country) native trees are separate male & female? Specifically Tx Pistache and American Smoke Tree. Do I have to wait until they flower and inspect the flower for c...
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Leander, TX
Can plants bought at Plant Sale wait a while in Leander TX
I would like to buy some native plants at the upcoming sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, but my yard is not ready to receive them. We are building a new house and anticipate being able ...
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Leander, TX
Plants found only in the Edwards Plateau of Texas area
I am new to Austin, Texas and I am working with a group of 4th grade Cub Scouts on their Naturalist and Forester pins and we need to know about and have pictures of at least 6 trees and plants only fo...
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Leander, TX
Lantana isn't blooming in Leander, TX.
I bought a small potted New Gold Lantana about 2-1/2 weeks ago. I planted it in full sun and covered it with mulch. The few original flowers have fallen off. Although, I see a couple of new buds, ...
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Leander, TX
Endemic plants for the Edwards Plateau
Thanks so much for the info. it will be very helpful with the boys and we really stress "Leave No Trace Behind". The pictures will be enough. Thanks again!!
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Leander, TX
When to seed a native grass lawn in a drought area?
I want to plant a native grass lawn. It is raining now. Can I plant it in December? It might not be raining in the spring if the drought continues.
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Leander, TX
Leguminous deer-resistant groundcover
Please help me identify a deer-resistant leguminous ground cover native to Central Texas to serve as a guard plant in edible-plant groupings.
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Leander, TX
Specimen evergreen for sun in Central Texas
I'm soliciting suggestions for a specimen plant for a new garden we're building. It will be planted in a 3' square raised (18") Limestone bed. It will be full sun, Western exposure, and relative...
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Leander, TX
Cutting back woody plants after freeze in Leander TX
I have several woody shrubs in a prominent location. Now that the leaves have frozen, how far back should I cut them? These are Flame Acanthus, Salvia ballotiflora, and Aloysia macrostachya, but I w...
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Leander, TX
Water-saving strategies of drought-tolerant plants
Although "drought tolerant" plants are fairly well documented, it's clear that many different strategies are responsible, such as a huge root system (like Mesquite). I'm interested in learning the...
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Leander, TX
Yellow-blossomed Shrub that Occurs in Arizona and Texas
What is the name of the large shrubs you will see in Arizona with the bright yellow blossoms. They grow wild everywhere, and I also see them in the town. Could you please tell me the name of them, s...
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Leander, TX
Desmodium spp. (beggar's lice) in Leander TX
Our home backs up to a greenbelt on Blockhouse Creek in Williamson County, Texas (FM 1431 and Parmer Lane). The combination of the flood and drought has left our beautiful greenbelt with an abundance...
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Leander, TX
Flowers that attract Queen butterflies
Walking into the cloud of Queen butterflies around my Gregg's Mistflowers is one of the coolest things I've ever experienced, so I started wondering how I could prolong this "visitation". Can you...
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Leander, TX
Identification of stinging plant in Central Texas
I live on 15 acres on Nameless Road. When walking on property, occasionally my leg/ankle brushes against some plant that "stings" me. Like little needles in my skin. Doesn't last long, but becau...
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Leander, TX
Soapberry Transplant shock symptoms
Please suggest a cause & cure for general yellowing of the leaves of Western Soapberry when planted in the ground 20 miles NW of Austin (thin, poor clay over limestone). Trees still in containers are...
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Leander, TX
Will the new bluebonnet plants survive the winter?
I live in Leander, and we've had 19 1/2 inches of rain in the past three weeks. ALL of our bluebonnets are coming up! Can they survive the winter?
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Leander, TX
Container plant in difficult sun exposure from Leander TX
HELP!!!! I have a large Mexican terracotta pot on my front porch. This awkward area is facing westward, so receives the full dose of Texas sun after about 3 pm onward. Now here's the catch; my fr...
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Leander, TX
Fronds turning brown on yucca in Leander, TX
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I live Northwest of Austin in Leander and have grown a spanish dagger yucca for several years. It is 8 feet tall and each spring it puts up a showy spike of blooms. The old fr...
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Leander, TX
Plants to repel mosquitoes from Leander TX
What are the best plant for repelling mosquitoes in the Leander area? The land here is hilly and rocky.
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Leander, TX
Problem with Eupatorium greggii
At the Garden's fall plant sale in 2006, I bought some Eupatorium greggii. It did very well last year. Recently, the entire plant looks like it is just wilting from the top down, as if it has some so...
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Leander, TX
Non-native genista racemosa from Leander TX
Hello, Mr. Smarty Plants. I fear I've made a horrible purchase at a local plant place. Bought a "broom" plant--it's not listed in your database. Latin name: genista racemosa, according to tag. ...
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