En EspaŅol

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?

Share

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
7 ratings

Wednesday - September 26, 2007

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: Locating red clay for wildflower seed balls
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am trying to locate a local source for the Powdered Red Clay spoke about in making wildflower seed balls. I live in Round Rock, Texas and have called many local nursery and no one knows what I am talking about.

ANSWER:

Without totally intending to be flip, we sometimes think that plant experts try to be too, well, expert. Frankly, we're pretty sure that the "Powdered Red Clay" referred to in our How To Article on "Making Seedballs" is what is commonly known as "dirt". We really did try to find where "Powdered Red Clay" occurred naturally and it proved a little difficult. You can find all sorts of soil maps, but there are so many different types of soil in Texas, even in a small area like Williamson County, and many of them side by side.

So, let's see if we can figure out how to come up with a proper ingredient for Powdered Red Clay seedballs. Soil is usually compounded of three different sized particles. The largest particles are sand, through which water flows very readily. The next is silt, and finally, the smallest particles are clay. The clay particles are so small and cling together so tightly that there are not enough porous spaces between to permit water to travel through it. Test some dirt in your own area-not fill or compost brought in, but just the native dirt. Get a little of it wet, scoop up a fistful (isn't scientific investigation fun?) and squeeze. If it sticks together in a glob, rather than just collapsing and sliding away, you've got clay. In this area, it's probably red clay, but we don't think that makes a whole lot of difference. The main thing is, it sticks together, so you can get seeds into it and a ball made out of it. The article referenced above gives pretty specific instructions about what soils you need and how to make them, and also mentions that if you're really concerned about getting red clay soil specifically that you can order a terry cotta clay from ceramic supply houses. It also cautions that there should be some sand in the mix. Again, in this part of Central Texas, I think you'd be hard pressed to dig your hand in some natural dirt and not find a good mix of clay and sand. After all, that's what our wildflowers are growing in now, right?

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Peak times for viewing wildflowers in Texas
January 25, 2005 - We are planning a trip to Texas to see wildflowers this spring. I have time off March 17-25. Would you expect to see much in bloom then? What area might be the best to visit? Does anyone put reports o...
view the full question and answer

Raising bluebonnets in Stanford CA
January 17, 2011 - I'm a Houston girl now living in Northern California (Stanford). I would like to know if I need to adjust my growing timing for lupinus texensis? Mostly, I want to know when I should actually put th...
view the full question and answer

Seed regrowth through mulch
September 06, 2007 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants: I have planted a perennial and wildflower garden and would like to put mulch down to control the weeds and retain moisture. Will the plants that drop their seeds be able to re- ...
view the full question and answer

Spring sowing of wildflower seeds in pots
May 11, 2015 - Is it possible to start wildflower seeds in pots in the spring and then transplant them to the yard?
view the full question and answer

Landscaping in Bertram TX
September 25, 2009 - I have a landscaping job in Bertram, Texas and am looking for all my options as far as full and partial shade somewhat hardy plants. I'm mainly looking for small plants and pretty flowers I can do wi...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center