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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.

Questions From Near You

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
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
Seed source for thistles in San Marcos TX
Where can I buy thistle seeds?
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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
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
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
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
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
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
Source for records of Pleistocene flora of Central Texas
Part of your answer to a question from October 12, 2010 is "..moreover, the evidence goes even further back than the 1800s. Studies of Pleistocene deposits from Central Texas showed ancestral cedar p...
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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
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
Fast-growing evergreen shrub/tree as a screening fence
Our commercially-zoned property is adjacent to a residential area. The city planning and zoning board has said okay to a vegetation boundary instead of a fence for blocking headlights. The requireme...
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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
Sources of native grasses and forbs seeds for Hidalgo and Maverick Cos.
I work for TPWD and am working with some irrigation districts in South Texas, trying to get them to plant native grasses and forbs in their ROWs rather than exotic grasses recommended by TxDOT. Can y...
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San Marcos, TX
Control of ball moss in oak trees
I live in San Marcos, Texas and I have a two acre lot with lots of oak trees. Most of these trees have so much ballmoss attached to them that the leaves and branches are not visible anymore. Is ther...
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San Marcos, TX
List of Central Texas native shrubs
Need to find a list of Central Texas native shrubs.
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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
Destroying seeds of Chinaberry tree
I have a "chinaberry" tree in my yard, and while I understand that it is an invasive plant to Texas, I was hoping to save the large mature tree. As an effort to be more responsible I have been coll...
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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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San Marcos, TX
Identification of plant, possibly Justicia pilosella, for groundcover
I'm newly relocated to Texas and find I have a yard with three major types of green growing. Close to the house (and mostly shaded) is St. Augustine. Furthest out front, (unshaded) is the Bermudagra...
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