Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


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.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

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.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - February 07, 2006

From: Delta, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Many different species called
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton


I know from researching that Dusty Miller is drought tolerant. But, I tend to water too much when I do get irrigation water. Will it stand this? (clay soil, near a very young globe willow, southern exposure, hot summers,wind,)


Dusty Miller is often cited as an example of the problem associated with using common names. Here's a list of species with the common name of Dusty Miller and their nativity:

1. Senecio cineraria - Mediterranean
2. Lychnis coronaria - Mediterranean
3. Chrysanthemum ptarmiciflorum - Canary Islands
4. Centaurea cineraria - Mexico
5. Centaurea gymnocarpa - Capraia, Italy (endemic)
6. Centaurea ragusiana - Adriatic
7. Senecio viravira - Argentina
8. Artemisia stelleriana - US and Japan (possibly not native). More commonly referred to as Wormwood or Old Woman.

As you can see, there is only one species with this common name that is possibly native to North America. The most common of these is Senecio cineraria and this may be the one you have. Since we don't know for certain which one you have, we can't really answer your question. However, you can read about the care of several of these at the links above.


More Non-Natives Questions

Thinning of non-native rosemary
May 09, 2007 - I live in NW Austin and have a very large rosemary bush that is having problems this season. We trimmed the bush in early March because the plant was getting too large for the space. It is roughly 3...
view the full question and answer

Differences between Desmodium and Lespedezda
June 19, 2014 - i am trying to determine the difference between lespedeza and desmodium in my full sun wildflower and tall grasses meadow. There appear to be a number of different types of these plants, and they are...
view the full question and answer

Mulching vegetables with straw
June 13, 2007 - I have a small garden with 4 different veggies, tomatoes, hot peppers, squash & cucumbers. which plants is it OK to put straw under? which plants will straw hurt the stalks or other possibilities? tha...
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming climbing rose in Conroe, TX
October 09, 2009 - I have a climbing rose and it has never bloomed and has no thorns, it was a cutting from another rose bush. I have given it water and fertilize and have mulch around it also.
view the full question and answer

Trimming non-native plants
November 21, 2009 - What time of year is best to trim my Alamanda cathartica, and also my Plumbago auriculata? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.