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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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Saturday - April 21, 2012

From: Granger, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Correct size for Wright penstemon from Granger TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

The Wright penstemon pictured as your main plant, looks nothing like the other pictures below it. I realize, they can be pink or red. But the LARGE speciman out in your gardens is nowhere near the 1-2 foot height that you specify. Is the tag marking that enormous plant wrong? Or should you adjust the size that you have listed for this plant. I think I bought one, and I'm just trying to determine where to put it, depending on size. thanks! PS This was my first Wildflower Center visit for the show this weekend. Great!!!

ANSWER:

We are so glad you enjoyed your first visit to the Wildflower Center. Come back for many more.

We are a little puzzled about your mention of a large specimen of Penstemon wrightii (Wright's beardtongue) in our Gardens. We searched our Wildflower Center Master Taxa List but did not find the plant listed. That doesn't really signify, lists get out of date. Please follow the plant link above to our webpage on this plant. You are correct, that webpage refers to height range as 1-3 ft. Another source, Mountain States Wholesale Nursery, mentions "topping out at 4 ft." We can tell you it is a full sun plant, and a perennial, which means it will spread and can be divided or trimmed back as necessary. It also does not require much water. If it is, indeed, growing in our Gardens, it is probably being treated appropriately for its natural conditions and is just large and happy.

Here are the two pictures of this plant that we have in our Image Gallery. From the website Wild About Penstemon, more information.

We have to admit we have not specifically answered your question. This particular member of the Mr. Smarty Plants team is a volunteer living close to the Wildflower Center, and I worked on the Plant Sale. Unfortunately, I don't remember laying eyes either on the plant in the Gardens to which you referred, nor in the Sale. As we have already mentioned, we recommend it be planted in full sun (6 hours or more of sun daily) and not in an area heavily watered.

 

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