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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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Tuesday - March 30, 2010

From: Katy, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native Callistemon damaged by freeze in Katy TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

O.K. Smarty pants, Callistemon bought here in Houston Texas froze and will they recover after the freeze? The huge tree is totally brown and about five years old. Do we cut them back or do the leaves fall off? Ours are twelve feet tall.

ANSWER:

It's Smarty Plants, if you please. There are several species of the genus Callistemon, including the red-blooming Callistemon citrinus, from this website by Floridata. All are native to Western Australia and therefore out of our range of expertise. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which that plant is being grown. While Katy is in USDA Hardiness Zone 9a, and Callistemon is hardy in Zones 9 to 11, we had most unusual weather in Texas this year, and your bottlebrush is apparently one of the casualties. It might come up from the roots, but obviously won't be a big tree again. If you decide to plant another, try mulching the roots and, if a bad freeze is predicted, cover the plant.

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