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Mr. Smarty Plants - Wildflower to succeed bluebonnets

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Tuesday - April 08, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Wildflower to succeed bluebonnets
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am looking for a "partner" plant for bluebonnets? What perennial plant doesn't really "appear" until after April? What I want is a sea of bluebonnets in March and April but when they go dormant I'd like this other plant to grow into its space and then it to die in the winter and come back after the bluebonnets are done. Does that make sense?

ANSWER:

Of course, it makes sense, Nature does it all the time. The ground is not left bare when the bluebonnets have bloomed, dropped their seeds and begun to dry and sink back into the ground. However, what naturally occurs may not be a field of another wildflower that will begin to bloom on schedule and then drop back for another and another until it's time for the bluebonnets again. Most likely, it will be native grasses that will begin to grow toward the sunlight as the bluebonnets begin to droop. Native grasses do bloom, but the blossoms are not of the sort to grace postcards; they are usually small and inconspicuous. But the grasses are as necessary in Nature's plan as the flowers, for wild animal forage, nesting shelter, seed for birds, etc.

Go to this How-To Article on Meadow Gardening. You will understand that this is not a quickie project of throwing out a selection of seeds and waiting for the picture ops to begin. It is a slow process, planting some plants by plugs, some by seeds, and removing others that do not belong there, such as non-natives or invasives. Read A Guide to Native Plant Gardening to get a better feel for what should go into your meadow. Obviously, you want to plant natives in the area, since those plants have evolved over millennia to cope with the soil, the average annual moisture, and the insects of the area. Follow the links in the two referenced articles to discussions of the specific plants that are suggested. You can't take Nature's place, but you can certainly make your own little corner of the world look natural and beautiful.

 

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