En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


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.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

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.

rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - May 09, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Thinning of non-native rosemary
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in NW Austin and have a very large rosemary bush that is having problems this season. We trimmed the bush in early March because the plant was getting too large for the space. It is roughly 3 feet deep by 7 feet wide. It has small purple flowers that bloom on it in the early spring, so I'm not sure which variety we have. The bottom of the plant is basically 10-12 inches of sticks. The new growth is coming in at the top of the plant, but underneath looks really terrible. I assume, eventually, the top growth will cover the ugly parts below, but I'd like to have a healthy plant again. Any suggestions? (I did notice a spider web in the base of the plant yesterday, what pesticide would be best to use?)


Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an introduced species from the Mediterranean region that has been used extensively over the South for landscaping. Since the Wildflower Center's focus and expertise is in plants native to North America, rosemary isn't really in our purview. We can tell you, however, that it sounds as if your plant needs to be thinned considerably to regain its health. Many plants will not produce new growth from old, hard wood at all, some only form the end of pruned wood. It sounds like that is what is happening with your plant. You can read more about its care from The Backyard Gardener.

Concerning the spider web in your plant, spiders in general are good news for gardeners since they trap and eat insects that may be injurious to your plants. Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't see a need for a pesticide to kill spiders.



More Non-Natives Questions

Type of clumping bamboo for outdoor planters from Plano TX
March 25, 2014 - What type of clumping bamboo can be grown outdoors in planters in Dallas,TX?
view the full question and answer

Bugs on non-native Pachystachys lutea in Hawaii
August 20, 2009 - My golden shrimp/lollipop plant has aphid like bugs. They are darker and firmer than aphids but clump like them. They are consuming it. What are they and how do I get rid of them?
view the full question and answer

Growing Citrus Trees in Glendora CA
August 16, 2012 - We're considering moving to Glendora, CA (from the East Coast) and wondered if it is possible to successfully grow orange and other citrus trees that far inland? Any advice you can offer will be muc...
view the full question and answer

Will non-native poisonous oleander grow through non-native invasive bermudagrass in Ft. Worth?
February 20, 2011 - I was wondering if you knew which flowering plants would grow through grass. I have bermuda, have tried raised beds but due to uneven yard with lots of rock it would be too expensive to do properly. ...
view the full question and answer

Controlling pumpkin vine in British Columbia
July 15, 2008 - I have never grown pumpkins before but decided to try one plant this year. It seems to be taking over my small garden space. Can I prune it back? I only want one or two pumpkins for my grandchildre...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center