En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - September 01, 2008

From: Spalding, NE
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Bulbs named exotica
Answered by: Barbara Medford


When I purchased some seed from a catalog I received some free bulbs called exotica which I planted.They have long green stems. I don't know what they are or what to do with them. Can I plant them outside or are they just house plants? Can you send a picture?


Much to our surprise, we may actually have found that plant you are asking about. We were sure that the bulbs you were sent, named "Exotica", were just given a random trade name, with no connection to any scientific name. However, we found a plant that grows from bulbs named Hemigraphis "Exotica" on the Kemper Center for Home Gardening website. We can't guarantee this is your bulb, as it appears to be a vining plant. If we found the right one, it would be a house plant in Nebraska, as it needs Zones 10-11 to be grown outside. One of the suggested uses was as a hanging basket plant. The forum website Dave's Garden has some more information and comments on the plant by gardeners who have tried it. Another site from Dave's Garden, Purple Waffle Plant, has more pictures. It has a very distinctive and unusual leaf, so it should be easy to tell if you have the same plant. This plant is native to Asia. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are dedicated to the promotion and protection of plants native to North America, so the plant does not appear in our Native Plant Database. However, most house plants are non-native tropicals because they are able to withstand the living conditions indoors. 

If this still doesn't seem to be the right plant, we suggest you go back to the company from which you received it. Look in their catalog, either online or in print, and see if such a plant is listed. Any time you purchase or receive a plant from a dealer, you should be given the full scientific name of it, so you can research it and find out its growing conditions. The packaging in which the bulbs arrived should have had this information, and also should have given you some sort of cultural instructions. 


More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification of 3-leaf plant with red berries in Utah
July 27, 2011 - I would like to send you a picture to ID a 3 leaf plant with red berries. Could you give me an email to do that? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Identification of low plant with like waterlily pad
May 04, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a low growing plant with leaves the shape of a waterlily pad, approx.1" growing all over my yard. I actually like them but would like to know the name of the plant. Thank y...
view the full question and answer

Looking for name of fragrant, night-blooming plant with flower resembling gardenia
January 05, 2008 - The plant that I am looking for is a night bloomer, strong scented and has leaves and flowers similar to gardenia. I have seen a picture of the plant but not the actually plant. Can you give me an id...
view the full question and answer

Visual difference between Strophostyles umbellata and S. helvola
September 06, 2012 - I know that Strophostyles umbellata is perennial and S. helvola is an annual, but can you tell me how to visibly distinquish between S. umbellata and S. helvola.
view the full question and answer

Identification of ivy-like plant with large purplish leaves.
March 27, 2015 - Can you ID this ivy-like growing plant with a big purplish elephant ear type leaf and a big green stem pouch?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center