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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

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 15, 2010

From: Alice, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Freeze damage to non-native Alocasia portei in Alice, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Alocasia portei family (I think). I have a palm type plant with finger-like broad leaves that grows its "palm like leaves" at the end of a curving trunk. These leave I trim back as new ones grow in. A recent freeze killed all the leaves. The plant is really big. To cut back the plant to a more appropriate size for my yard, can I cut the trunk back a foot or so without killing the plant and will the leaves grow from the cut point? or am I just suppose to remove the brown dead leaves.

ANSWER:

Alocasia portei is a tropical Aroid, member of the Araceae family of plants. It is native to tropical Asia, the Phillipines and Thailand, and therefore out of the range of expertise of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. We are dedicated to the care, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. This plant is apparently ordinarily grown as an indoor plant. As far down in Jim Wells County as you are located, you probably took a chance that the freezing temperatures would never be a threat. Because this plant is non-native, we have no information on it and really can't answer your question. Two websites that we can refer you to are from AgriStarts Alocasia portei, and the International Aroid Forum.
 

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