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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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Monday - June 25, 2007

From: Nacogdoches, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Problem Plants, Wildflowers
Title: Eliminating weeds from seeded wildflower stands
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We live in Eastern Central Texas in a small community on Texas Highway 7. Last fall, we went to the Wildseed Flower Farm near Fredricksburg and purchased a bag of mixed wildflower seeds and planted them in the 'ditch area' between our property and the highway. They sprang to life this year and really are beautiful. The problem is, now we have the weeds coming up among these pretty flowers and my husband would like to know what we can do to eliminate the weeds and not harm the wildflowers. It was suggested that we contact the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Any suggestions that you can offer will be greatly appreciated. Our plans are to go back to the Wildflower Seed Farm this Fall and purchase more seeds so that eventually we will have the entire area planted with wildflowers. We were afraid that all the rain we had recently might cause these flowers to drown out, but they survived the flooded area they were in for a short time, and seem to be okay now. Thank you for any help you might provide. I know that in some areas the counties cut these spaces next to the highway, but it appears that most of the residents in this area cut these spaces themselves. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone who has these areas in front of their property would be able to plant wildflowers. We would be the envy of all who travel through our state because there is nothing prettier than the wildflowers that we grow here in Texas.

ANSWER:

First of all, Mr. Smarty Plants recommends that you read "Planting Wildflowers along Roadsides" and "Wildflower Meadow Gardening" in our How To Articles. Both articles contain information that should aid you in your project. If you have a mower with an adjustable height blade and the weeds are taller than your wildflowers, you could mow down the weeds and let the wildflowers remain. If all your wildflowers, or at least most of them, have already dropped their seeds, you can mow everything. You should try to remove any seedheads from the weeds that are among the clippings from the mowing, however. You can remove by hand or garden tools any of the larger, more obnoxious weeds—again, being careful to not let the seedheads remain on the ground. You will want to sow more wildflower seeds in the fall even if your wildflowers have reseeded themselves. This will provide a larger population of wildflowers to compete with the weeds. Native grasses sown along with your wildflowers will also help to keep the weeds in check. Native American Seed in Junction, Texas has a wildflower seed mix (Native Trail Mix) that contains native grasses as well as a large number of different wildflowers. The two articles named above have more suggestions for managing your wildflower roadside planting.

This sounds like a wonderful project. I hope that your wildflowers will inspire your neighbors to follow your example and plant wildflowers of their own.

 

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