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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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Monday - February 22, 2010

From: Everett, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Watering, Shrubs
Title: Why are the leaves on my Laurel hedge turning brown in Everett, WA?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Our laurel hedge seems to have brown leaves on the top of the bush. We haven't had a freezing winter so we are trying to figure out why some of the leaves are brown.

ANSWER:

Laurel is commonly used as a common name, so Mr. Smarty Plants is just guessing that your hedge may be English Laurel, also known as Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). It is a popular specimen shrub in the northwest  US, but is a native of Southeast Europe and Southwest Asia. Since the focus of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the care, protection, and propagation  of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown, this plant lies outside the area of our expertise.

You mentioned that you didn't experience freezing temperatures, but browning leaves can be a symptom of other plant problems.

The questions you should ask are: has this happened before?, and what is different this year from last year? Browning can result from under or over-watering. Click here for information about watering plants.

For information closer to home, you might contact the folks at the Snohomish County office of Washington State University Extension Service.

 

 

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