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Mr. Smarty Plants - Wildflowers for a wedding site

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Sunday - November 11, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seasonal Tasks, Wildflowers
Title: Wildflowers for a wedding site
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My fiance and I would like to get married on his family's ranch, just north of Johnson City on the Pedernales river, in April of 2009. Currently, we are clearing the over-grown meadows of cactus and weeds so we can seed with wildflowers. Would you recommend some fool-proof wildflowers to plant that will develop over the next year? We would like to have an abundance of flowers present for the wedding and would also like to pick some for the decor and bouquets(not too many though!). Also, I've heard it is illegal to pick Bluebonnets, is this correct? Which other flowers should we avoid picking? Thank you!

ANSWER:

First of all, congratulations on your planned wedding and for choosing such an appropriate site. Second, PLEASE don't ask us for foolproof anything! Especially wildflowers. There are so many variables: too much rain (pretty rare), too little rain, a mild winter, a very bad winter, late spring, early spring, you name it, it can go wrong. What we can do is recommend that you plant wildflowers that are native to your area, because you know they can survive there. However, you don't have to limit yourselves to flowers that you commonly see in your areas; others might very well grow, too.

So, Wildflower Weddings, Class 101 now in session. Follow this link to our Native Plant Database. You'll use this link again, because there's lots on that opening screen. We tested out the possibilities, and went to the "Combination Search" on that screen. Now, you can play around with the wildflowers that are possible for that time of year and that location. Select Texas for state, Herbs for habit, Annual for duration (most of the favorite wildflowers are reseeding annuals), 6 hours or more of sun a day, and dry soil moisture. Under "Bloom Characteristics", check bloom time of March and April. We left color choices blank, but as you experiment, you might try selected colors, see what suggestions for specific colors you get. When we clicked on "Combination Search" we got 33 possibilities. We went through these, eliminating some that we know are beautiful but stickery, and any that don't start blooming by March. We also took a look at the soils required on each descriptive page, and made sure they would have a good chance in your area. Our Top Twelve are: Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), Castilleja indivisa (entireleaf Indian paintbrush) , Eriogonum annuum (annual buckwheat), Gaillardia pulchella (firewheel) , Ipomopsis longiflora (flaxflowered ipomopsis), Linum berlandieri var. berlandieri (Berlandier's yellow flax) , Lindheimera texana (Texas yellowstar), Monarda punctata (spotted beebalm) , Phlox drummondii (annual phlox), Salvia coccinea (blood sage) , Thelesperma filifolium var. filifolium (stiff greenthread), and Scutellaria drummondii (Drummond's skullcap) .You do not have to limit yourselves to these, choose any or all or find others that work for you.

You should be loaded with information by now, so we'll throw in a couple more hints. The first is, it's really too late for trying to plant most wildflowers to bloom in spring of 2008. If you wanted to experiment, you could certainly get some in the ground right away, but they really should be planted beginning September through October, mid-November at the latest. So, next fall you will be putting in the actual flowers that will, hopefully, be ready for your wedding. If some come up next spring, be careful not to mow the area until they have seeded, so you'll have a head start on the 2009 crop. Finally, you asked about the possibility of picking wildflowers for your wedding, and whether it was illegal to pick bluebonnets in Texas. In our experience, wildflowers do not tend to last long once they been picked, even if they're put into water. If you get some blooms next spring, experiment with them, see which ones last and how long. In Texas, it is illegal to damage or remove property from State lands, which could include bluebonnets. However, since you will be on land belonging to your future in-laws, you should certainly feel free to pick what you wish.

And best of luck from all of us at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Entireleaf indian paintbrush
Castilleja indivisa

Annual buckwheat
Eriogonum annuum

Firewheel
Gaillardia pulchella

Flaxflowered ipomopsis
Ipomopsis longiflora

Berlandier's yellow flax
Linum berlandieri var. berlandieri

Texas yellowstar
Lindheimera texana

Spotted beebalm
Monarda punctata

Annual phlox
Phlox drummondii

Scarlet sage
Salvia coccinea

Stiff greenthread
Thelesperma filifolium var. filifolium

Drummond's skullcap
Scutellaria drummondii

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