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

Monday - September 29, 2008

From: Kilgore, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Raised bed for wildflowers in Kilgore TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Please give me ideas of how to build a raised wildflower garden in a small back yard with 50% shade all day. I have common bermuda grass with an area of a 5' X 10' setting that will receive the most sunlight. Do I need to plant in October? How do I need to maintain seeds thru the winter? I want to have grandkids assist with this project as a learning experience. I want my wildflowers to be native Texas plants.

ANSWER:

We'd like to start by asking you to read some articles that will give you information better than we could. The first is our How-To Article on Container Gardening with Native Plants. Basically, that's what you're planning to do, establish a large container to plant wildflowers.We also have an article on Getting Started on Large Scale Wildflower Planting. Read it only if you promise not to let it scare you off. You're talking 50 square feet and the article is talking acres. But it has some good points on preparing the soil, when to seed, etc. It even mentions volunteers, a category which I think your grandchildren will fit into nicely. As to the bed itself, start with this website from University of Illinois Extension The Green Line, click on "Build a Raised Bed" and it will give you some basics. And, finally, a slightly more commercial website, but still useful: Raised Garden Beds (eartheasy). Then, read this recent article from the Austin American Statesman Planting Wildflowers? This was written as a part of an ongoing project called "Lady Bird's Legacy" and has information provided by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center staff. 

As you can see, there is considerable work involved in getting ready for your project, and wildflower seeds do need to be planted in the Fall. You know better than we do whether your schedule and your budget can get something like this going quickly enough for this year's wildflower crop. The very first thing we suggest you do is get rid of that bermudagrass! A non-native grass that has become an invasive weed for gardeners all over North America, but especially in the South, it needs to go. The best way to do it is to use a sharp shovel or even a sod cutter to just remove the sod, after you've marked off the dimensions of your plot. That stuff can survive anything, including being buried, and you will have enough trouble with weeds popping up in your wildflowers from blown-in seeds without having the rhizomes of bermudagrass poking up and starting a new lawn. 

If you don't yet have your seed, or know what you want to plant, we suggest you go to this website for Native American Seed in Junction, Texas, where they are featuring wildflower seeds as a part of the Lady Bird's Legacy project.  They have an online catalog and mail order. We feel this is a wonderful experience you are planning for your grandchildren, and hope it will help them grow up to be more aware of their environment and the usefulness of native plants.

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Late Blooming Wildflowers for Round Rock
August 06, 2014 - I thought this would be a previously answered question but found nothing in the data base. My question is: in Central Texas what can be grown for some color or interest in a wildflower area when the w...
view the full question and answer

Optimum viewing time for Texas wildflowers, bluebonnets
March 01, 2007 - I will make a car trip from Alabama to Anson, Texas, in the next month or so. I would like to time my visit to see the Blue Bonnets and/or wildflowers blooming. Please advise me as to the best time t...
view the full question and answer

Greenhouse bluebonnets for July wedding from Denver CO
August 19, 2013 - Would it possible for my daughter's florist to get bluebonnets for her late July wedding? Are they propagated in greenhouses?
view the full question and answer

Using Native Plants Database to determine flowering time in Austin
April 07, 2006 - How can I access your data base to learn what plants are flowering in Austin during the months of October and early November?
view the full question and answer

Wildflower garden with Castilleja indivisa (Indian paintbrush)
January 08, 2013 - I want to start a wildflower garden in my front/backyard. Specifically, I would like to include the indian paintbrush. What is the best way to go about this? Straight in the ground, containers, etc...
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