En Español

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

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 - October 23, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: School wildflower, native plant garden
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am helping my daughter's third grade class plant a very small (about 5 ft. square) wildflower/native plant bed that is in full sun. I'm interested in flowering plants that bloom in the very early spring and not so interested in those that will be blooming during summer vacation. What would you suggest for the most impact? Thanks!

ANSWER:

That's a pretty small space, but you can have "specimen" plants that look good in the spring and can get along with minimum care in the summer, when the young gardeners are away. If you are thinking mostly of flowering plants, there are several Texas natives that flower in early to mid-spring. You could also put in some low grasses that will add texture and interest to the space without showy blooms.

First, go to our How To Articles for articles on the issues you wish to address, even though you are working on a very small scale. Next, just for fun, go to the Plant Database and scroll down to the "Combination Search." Click on Texas (for the state), herb (for habit), and bloom times of March, April and May. Okay, too much information, that gave me 729 possibilities, but you get the idea of how to narrow your search for specific plants. Next, let's try the Propagation Database. Each of these gives specific instructions on how to plant certain Texas wildflowers.

I chose several to look at, but some bloomed later in the summer than you specified. All of the following are native to Texas, grow well in our area, and bloom March to May. Castilleja indivisa (entireleaf Indian paintbrush), Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), Oenothera speciosa (pinkladies), Phlox drummondii (annual phlox). Since these need to be planted from seed, you need to get going on it as soon as possible, no later than the middle of November. Please note in the articles on these plants in the Propagation Database the types of preparation that are necessary for these seeds. These are all annuals but if left undisturbed might reseed for next year.

If you also want some native grasses that might be ornamental in the space when the flowers are not in bloom, consider these: Sisyrinchium sagittiferum (spearbract blue-eyed grass) and Nassella tenuissima (finestem needlegrass). Understand, in both flowers and grasses there are many other possibilities, but now that you know how to search our Native Plant Database, you may choose others if you prefer.

 


Castilleja indivisa

Oenothera speciosa

Sisyrinchium sagittiferum

 


Nassella tenuissima
 

More Wildflowers Questions

Wildflowers for Partial Sun in East Texas
July 11, 2016 - I need the name of wildflowers that will tolerate partial sun and perscribe burns in East Texas (Huntsville area) pine plantations.
view the full question and answer

Shearing Pink Skullcaps
September 21, 2014 - My pink skullcap plants keep dying. The ones that are still alive are about 3 years old, but have large sections of dry twigs. Do I shear them and hope they come back or are they gone? I live in Helot...
view the full question and answer

Shade and Drought Tolerant Plants for Idaho Shade
March 18, 2016 - I am looking for plants native to Idaho and/or the surrounding region (zone 6 or 7) that would do well in full shade conditions (adjacent to the north side of our house) and meet several criteria: Max...
view the full question and answer

Green thread-Thelesperman filifolium
May 13, 2007 - Looking for information on a wild flower called green thread. Can you tell us the actual name or any information about this flower.
view the full question and answer

Hymenocallis caroliniana and Hymenocallis liriosme Differences
October 09, 2013 - A couple of years ago a neighbor gave me three huge bulbs of a type unknown to her. They fit the description of a spider lily. In attempts to identify it I found Hymenocallis liriosme and Hymenocallis...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center