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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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Saturday - January 05, 2013

From: El Paso, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Container Gardens
Title: Indoor plants for El Paso TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I want to know what kind of plants will survive indoors in El Paso. It is so dry here, is there anything leafy or flowery that will thrive indoors in this climate?

ANSWER:

We agree with you about the dry air in El Paso, indoors and out. The big problem is that most indoor plants are non-native to North America. An indoor climate can be more difficult, believe it or not, than outdoor extreme temperatures and rainfall. Here is an article from Aggie Horticulture on Houseplants, which will give you a general feel for the process of growing them indoors.

Since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plant native not only to North America but to the area in which they grow natively (in this case, El Paso County) there is good new and bad news. First, the bad news, almost none of the plants that will grow indoors are native to your area or, indeed, anywere in North America. Most of them are subtropicals. The good news is that it is far easier to find non-natives in commercial nurseries and home improvement stores. From a Guide to Houseplants, here is a House Plant Encyclopedia. When you begin to shop, plan to make 2 trips to the nursery. Trip one: go into the nursery and take notes on the name of any plant you like that is on the tag. Search the House Plant Encyclopedia (above) for that name, and then follow the link to information on that plant. Trip Two: go back and make selections based on your research.

One more thing  before you make your purchase. Again from Guide to Housplants, here is an article How to Identify House Plant Pests and Diseases and Get Solutions that Work. Note their caution that most pests and diseases come home from the nursery, so you must inspect everything you buy closely.

 

 

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