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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 Antonio, TX
Identification of plant growing in Plumbago
Help - I have a strange looking plant that recently shot up in a potted Plumbago. I planted the Plumbago in its pot with Miracle Gro potting soil, and have been fertilizing with Miracle Gro as well. ...
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San Antonio, TX
Source for Brasil tree, Condalia hookeri
I have been searching for this tree everywhere, but cannot locate a dealer/retailer/nursey that sells this tree. Its name is Brasil tree (Condalia hookeri) and it is native to the southern US, ...
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San Antonio, TX
Is the fruit on Texas olive (Cordia boissieri) edible?
I planted Cordia boissieri (Texas olive) in my garden and its thriving. Now I'm getting fruit from the tree; they are grape-sized waxy and soft. Is this fruit edible (by humans)? Should it be ...
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San Antonio, TX
Water Gardening
I took the landscaping class several years ago, and now would like to put in a section of aquatic plants. Starting small, I was initially looking for a ceramic bowl-type container, and I need to know...
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San Antonio, TX
Native grasses and wildflowers to attract butterflies in Blanco Co., TX
Could you please recommend (native, xeriscape, deer resistant) grasses and flowers that attract butterflies that can be grown in Blanco County?
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San Antonio, TX
Plant Identification
We have a new vine growing on our fence. It eventually gets red balls (about 1" in dia) that are filled with small white seeds. Before the balls turn red, they are covered with a fine, thin fern (f...
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San Antonio, TX
Competition for sun between non-native loquat and Carolina laurel cherry in San Antonio
I have planted 2 Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry)along my north side fence. I just learned my neighbor has planted a Loquat tree on the other side of the north facing fence. He told me that...
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San Antonio, TX
Use of cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) for tea
Back in the 50's when I spent the summers with my grandmother south of Hondo, Texas, she use to pick leaves from the cenizo (purple sage) bushes, dry them and then brew them for tea. I asked one of m...
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San Antonio, TX
Rock under space for Bigtooth Maple in San Antonio
I just got a 10 gallon Bigtooth Maple in Medina TX for my home outside loop 1604 in San Antonio. I hit rock about 7 inches in when trying to plant it..I am entertaining the idea for a raised bed to le...
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San Antonio, TX
Non-native Japanese maple in San Antonio
I want to plant a Shaina Japanese maple in San Antonio, how do I plant it? I want to plant it near the house near the front door. The tree will be blocked by the house so it does not get too much af...
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San Antonio, TX
Further information on Melochia tomentosa in San Antonio
Information in your database is limited for Melochia tomentosa. I would appreciate any further information you can provide such as requirements for sunlight, soils, water,etc.
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San Antonio, TX
Plants for winter color in native wildflower meadow backyard
I am establishing a wildflower meadow in my backyard (150'x50'). it will have native Texas wildflowers, Buffalo Grass and Blue Gramma grass. Is there any plant that you can recommend for winter inte...
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San Antonio, TX
Western soapberry dropping leaves in San Antonio
My Western Soapberry tree (China berry?) Suddenly started dropping full, perfectly healthy green, leaf units. Now half the tree is turning yellow. There is a second tree in the yard not far from this ...
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San Antonio, TX
Growing Big Red Sage from Seed in San Antonio
I harvested some seed this year from my Big Red Salvia (Salvia penstemonoides). I have searched multiple sites looking for information on growing this wonderful salvia but cannot locate any informati...
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SAN ANTONIO, TX
Standing Cypress Plants in San Antonio, TX
I purchased seeds for standing cypress 2 years ago and this spring they look beautiful. What is the best way to harvest the seeds? Also, will the current plants come back next spring or will I have to...
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San Antonio, TX
Ground cover for a slope in San Antonio TX
Slope growing, no or little irrigation ground cover. The slope is probably greater than 30%. The area is currently a construction road at the base, cut into the hill. To re-establish with a ground cov...
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San Antonio, TX
Problems with a Hackberry tree in San Antonio.
Our old hackberry tree fell over last year. Now we have dozens of new ones popping up in the same area. We want to transplant a few to another area of the yard, but they aren't surviving. It appears ...
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San Antonio, TX
Plant identification of vine with fluffy-seeded pod
I saw a fluffy seeded pod on our hike this morning. I have seen this vine before, but do not know the proper and scientific name of it. Its leaves appear to be opposite and heart shaped. Could it be a...
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San Antonio, TX
How far east to avoid Ashe juniper pollen from Austin?
How far East of San Antonio and Austin do I have to go to avoid the pollen of Juniperus Ashei? Is Bastrop county safe? I'd be happy if it were gone 90% of the winter days - will the wind keep it aw...
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San Antonio, TX
What is Carolina Jessamine in San Antonio?
Okay, so if Gelsemium sempervirens is the one photographed by Joe Marcus in the "Explore Plants" section, then what is the actual name of the plant that is in every other yard in San Antonio, widely...
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San Antonio, TX
Controlling Cnidoscolus texanus (Texas bullnettle)
Hello,I need your help to control some nasty weeds in my yard/pasture. I am an old timer and do not have a picture to include—haven't figured out that part of the camera/phone yet. This weed is a pri...
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