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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.

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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!

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Friday - April 24, 2009

From: Dubuque, IA
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Are dusty millers perennial in Dubuque, IA?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have dusty millers in my front yard. Last fall I did nothing with them as I wasn't sure if they will return or not. Do the dusty millers continue to grow year after year and should I cut them down or how exactly do you take care of them as far as if they come back year after year?

ANSWER:

This Floridata website Senecia cineraria says "At least 8 different garden plants are commonly called 'dusty miller'." Senecia cineraria is native to the western and central Meditteranean area and therefore not in our range of expertise. The Floridata site goes on to list the other 7 that go by the same common name. If, indeed, your plant is the Senecia cineraria, it is grown as a summer annual in cool areas, and is hardy in Zones 8 to 10. Dubuque, in central eastern Iowa,  appears on the USDA Zone Hardiness Map to be in Zones 4a to 5, with average annual minimum temperatures from -30 to -15 deg. F.  We think you will need to expect to replant them every year.

 

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