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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - October 23, 2008

From: Smithville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflower Center, Container Gardens, Compost and Mulch, Transplants
Title: Potting soil used in Wildflower Center nursery
Answered by: Barbara Medford and Sean Watson


I recently purchased several beautiful little plants at your Fall plant sale and notice how very happy and healthy they all are! Please tell me if you mix your own potting soil and what your potting mixture consists of. Also, do you use different mixtures for the different types of plants you grow? Thanks for this wonderful resource!


We e-mailed the nursery manager at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Sean Watson, and got this immediate response:

We use the Gardenville "Container Mix" right now (Texas Disposal Systems produces the stuff). It is good compost pure and simple. It also has composted pecan hulls that help it to drain better, not become too compact (adds texture), and adds nutrients over time. We used to use Nature's Way Resources out of Conroe, TX, which I thought was a better compost, especially for containers (50% composted leaf mold, 50% composted hardwood mulch), but we decided to try this mix because it costs half as much and is local versus the gas we purchased for the trip from Conroe for the other. Just tryin' to lower our carbon footprint. We use it for all species, but sometimes cut it with sand for more xeric plants. Using compost also means less watering than with our previous mix (holds water more effectively).

Sean and his crew of staff and volunteers is an outstanding reason why our Plant Sales are so successful, and we thank you very much for your kind words. 


More Wildflower Center Questions

Does the Wildflower Center sell Endangered Plant Species?
January 25, 2010 - Do you guy's sell endangered plants in Austin? Such as the Basin Bellflower, or the Texabama Croton?
view the full question and answer

Epiphyte growing on oak trees in Wildflower Center
June 16, 2006 - Thank you for your response to my question on what is the epiphyte growing on oak trees. I should have been more specific to say " the epiphyte growing on the oak trees around Lady Bird Johnson wi...
view the full question and answer

Purchase access to plants at Wildflower Center
February 08, 2007 - I am interested in purchasing some of your plants. How can I do that? Do you send plants thru the mail or is their a nursery near you that has access to your plants that does? I am interested in Sa...
view the full question and answer

Native plant education
February 18, 2003 - Do you provide resources about native plants to middle school educators?
view the full question and answer

Ball moss (Tallandsia recurvata), epiphyte on oaks at Wildflower Center
April 06, 2006 - I visited your center a couple weeks ago, was very impressed with the educational aspects. I noticed the epiphyte commonly growing in the oak trees, and also on the elm oak. Do you have the name of t...
view the full question and answer

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