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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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Sunday - April 15, 2012

From: Washington , NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Propagation
Title: Growing non-native lettuce under artificial light from Washington NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Which artificial light( UV LIGHT, FLUORESCENT LIGHT AND INCANDESCENT LIGHT) makes a lettuce plant grow the fastest over a time period of 3 weeks and what would be your variables( independent, dependent and control variables) and discussion to this experiment? Please answer this, Mr. Smarty Plants, as I need it for my science expo.

ANSWER:

While we would like to be able to help you with your science project, we are not qualified to do so for several reasons. First, we deal only with plants native to North America, which lettuce is not. Lactuca salvia (lettuce) was first grown by the Egyptians,  then the Greeks and Romans, and was brought to the New World by early settlers in the 16th and 17th Centuries.

The second reason we can't help you is that we work to help gardeners grow plants native to their area outside in the ordinary rainfall, sunlight, temperatures and soil. Growing any plant, even a native, under artificial conditions, is out of our expertise. Here is an article about growing lettuce from the University of Illinois Extension Program.

For more information, read Do Plants Grow as Well Under Artificial Light? from EarthSky. An article on Aeroponics, Understanding Light Energy for Plant Growth Aeroponic Systems has some graphs comparing different forms of light.

 

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