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 - 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.

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Advisability of sowing wildflower seeds in mid-January in Lousiana
January 07, 2006 - Newton County borders Louisiana in SE Texas. Can we plant wildflowers now-mid January? The park has recently been graded and many trees blown down by Rita which will make it more sunny. The Garden ...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower blooming in Austin in mid-March from Laceys Spring AL
February 27, 2013 - Hi I will be at and around the center the weekend of March 9 & 10 to exhibit in the Art and Artisan's Festival and plan to stay a few extra days to "wildflower" either before or after. What is you...
view the full question and answer

Germination of Passiflora incarnata seeds
May 28, 2006 - I wish to purchase the Passionflower incarnata plants. I have found seeds, but they say they are very hard to start. I lost my very large vine and wish to replace it.
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

Promoting Monarch Habitats in Texas
July 11, 2016 - My parents have a 6 acre pasture in East, TX with native milkweed in it. What are the best times of year to bush hog to promote more milkweeds & do you know of any grants to help manage land for monar...
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