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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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Saturday - April 11, 2015

From: Bonham, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Need plants to replace Red Tipped Photinias in Bonham, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have 7 red tipped photinias that had all their leaves eaten last summer by an infestation of grasshoppers. I do mean all. They are or were about 10 years old. Can you tell me if they will grow back or are they toast?

ANSWER:


Red tipped Photinias are leafing out now all over Austin, so if your plants survived the grasshoppers, they should be letting you know about now.

The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes, so if your Photinias didn’t survive, Mr. Smarty Plants suggests that now would be a good time to replace them with a suitable native plant. The Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) has a program called Natives Instead of Common Exotics (NICE) that encourages the use of native plants in Texas landscapes. To learn more about the program, contact the Collin County Chapter of NPSOT.

To look at options for replacing your Photinias you can go to the Native Plant Database  where you can search for 8,264 native plants by scientific or common name, or choose a particular family of plants.  Scroll down to the Combination Search Box, and mnake the following selections: select Texas under State, Shrub under Habit, and Perennial under Duration. Check Sun (or whatever fits your situation) under Light requirement, Dry under Soil moisture, Evergreen under  Leaf retention, and 6-12 ft. under Height (or what ever you desire for the size). Click the Submit Combination Search Button, and you will get a list of of 30 plants that meet these criteria. Click the scientific name of each plant, and you will pull up the NPIN page for the plant that includes characteristics of the plant, growth requirements, and in most cases photos. Check out the list to see which plants would fit in your growth environment. You can redo the search, changing various criteria, and generate a different list.

 

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