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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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Sunday - November 28, 2010

From: Trenton, NJ
Region: Northeast
Topic: General Botany
Title: Differences in Plant Growth
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

How do plants grow differently?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants loves questions from kids. You guys get right to the point.

How do plants grow differently? Here are some general ways:

Size. Plants can be anything from giant trees to tiny grasses. General size classifications for most plants are:

    Herbs, which include most wildflowers and grasses,

    Shrubs, which we usually call bushes, and

    Trees.

    Other plants may be cacti, ferns or vines.

Light requirement. Some plants love deep shade, others want a full day of bright sun. Most can handle something in between.

Moisture. Some plants grow best with their "feet" wet in swampy conditions. Others do best in dry desert conditions. Again, most do best in between.

Another difference is how long plants live. Some come back year after year. These are called perennials. They may get frozen back every winter, but the roots survive and in the spring they come back and produce flowers and foliage through the spring, summer and fall. Other plants only live a single season. These are called annuals. They complete their life cycle in a single year, a seed sprouts, the plant grows, the plant flowers and produces seeds for next year's crop.

Sometimes, two plants of the same species will grow differently. Usually, this is because they are in different light and moisture conditions, but it may be just differences in individual plants. Just like some people are tall and some are short.

Hope this answers your question.

 

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