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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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Tuesday - February 07, 2006

From: Delta, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Many different species called
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I know from researching that Dusty Miller is drought tolerant. But, I tend to water too much when I do get irrigation water. Will it stand this? (clay soil, near a very young globe willow, southern exposure, hot summers,wind,)

ANSWER:

Dusty Miller is often cited as an example of the problem associated with using common names. Here's a list of species with the common name of Dusty Miller and their nativity:

1. Senecio cineraria - Mediterranean
2. Lychnis coronaria - Mediterranean
3. Chrysanthemum ptarmiciflorum - Canary Islands
4. Centaurea cineraria - Mexico
5. Centaurea gymnocarpa - Capraia, Italy (endemic)
6. Centaurea ragusiana - Adriatic
7. Senecio viravira - Argentina
8. Artemisia stelleriana - US and Japan (possibly not native). More commonly referred to as Wormwood or Old Woman.

As you can see, there is only one species with this common name that is possibly native to North America. The most common of these is Senecio cineraria and this may be the one you have. Since we don't know for certain which one you have, we can't really answer your question. However, you can read about the care of several of these at the links above.

 

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