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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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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
Damage to yucca in San Marcos TX
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, thank you for helping me with my buffalo grass is San Marcos TX back in the spring, my lawn is gorgeous thanks to you! I really need your help as someone sabotaged my beauti...
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San Marcos , TX
Removing water from local rivers to water garden from San Marcos TX
I live in San Marcos Central Texas and my household experiments with a lot of organic gardening in our back yard, and I was wondering how using the surrounding rivers such as the Blanco or San Marcos ...
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San Marcos , TX
Why is my 3 year old Redbud not flowering in San Marcos, TX?
My Cercis canadensis var. mexicana, purchased at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, is 3 years old, very robust, but has never bloomed. Any explanation?
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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
Hedge for a shady spot
In the Statesman you recently provided good suggestions about a privacy screen. I need a hedge that will grow under a huge old oak tree. Will wax myrtle or red cedar work for us? I have yaupon and m...
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San Marcos, TX
How to solve a search problem on the Native Plant Database!
When I use the LBJ Wildflower Center's Plant Identification Guide, it ALWAYS comes up with no results. It also ALWAYS comes up with Family: Acanthaceae. Could this be why NO question EVERY produces A...
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San Marcos, TX
Concerns about swings on trees in Arboretum from San Marcos
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We very much enjoyed our visit to the new Arboretum this morning! It is already lovely with native species but will really be something with the additions the Wildflower Cent...
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San Marcos, TX
Dying trees in San Marcos, Texas
I live on 11 acres in San Marcos and cannot water at all during this drought. All of my oaks and mountain laurels are turning brown. Does this mean they are all dying? Will they come back in the sp...
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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
Pruning a Wafer Ash to make it upright
How do I trim a Wafer Ash? It lays on the ground. Is that normal? Does it need to be upright?
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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
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
Pruning time of non-native oleander
When and how should I trim oleanders that turned brown after our first freeze?
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San Marcos, TX
Deer Resistant Pond Plants
I am looking for deer resistant aquatic plants to use around a natural swimming pond in San Marcos, TX. The plants will be used to filter the water in a separate section of the pond. There will be a p...
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San Marcos, TX
Identification of purchased vine
Hi, I bought a hanging vine plant, and came with no id. The leaves are simple, alternate arrangement, entire margin (smooth edge margin). It has an ashy look, like the green purple sage. The flower ...
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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
Identification of a shrub in San Marcos, TX
On a walk in Austin's Barton Creek greenbelt, a Treefolks volunteer identified a shrub that I also have on my property in San Marcos as blue candalia. However I can't find a plant by that name via w...
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San Marcos, TX
Landscaping a Fence with Native Plants for Central Texas
I'm looking to landscape my fence that I've lined with woven bamboo. The area gets the hot afternoon sun in summer and is pretty shady in winter. The plants need to be drought and heat tolerant. I'...
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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
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
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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