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
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

Wildflower seeds to plant in summer in Austin
July 01, 2010 - Are there any wildflower seeds that can be planted during the summer months in Austin, TX?
view the full question and answer

Curling, Red Leaves on Gaura
July 18, 2013 - My gaura had most of its lower leaves turn red and then fall off. It is July now, I bought and planted it in May where it seemed to do really well growing several more inches tall and blooming nicely....
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
June 22, 2004 - When do the bluebonnets bloom in the Austin - San Antonio, Texas area?
view the full question and answer

Butterfly Garden, non-poisonous to Dogs, in Taylor MI
March 27, 2014 - I have a small fenced yard with a patio that my dogs have free access to. I would like to create a butterfly garden and add other plants that are non toxic to my dachshunds. Any suggestions. I am f...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower gardening in Leander , TX
September 02, 2009 - I live in Leander, Texas. I bought a couple of seed mixes last fall, and had wonderful wildflowers growing all along our fences, all spring and into the first part of the summer before it got way too ...
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