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 - May 03, 2005

From: Alexandria, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Seeds of mayflower
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Although I now live in Virginia, I grew up in eastern South Dakota. Several years ago while visiting SD I was walking in the pasture and noticed that many of the wild mayflowers (pasqueflowers) had gone to seed. In all the years I spent in SD I had never noticed them gone to seed. Many times while living in SD, I tried to transplant the entire plant from the pasture to a garden near our house but they never survived. So, that day, I collected a ziplock bag full of the seeds hoping that was the answer to getting them to grow for me. I have been carrying the seeds around for several years and have tried various places and methods of planting but they just won't grow. The seeds are now very dry and dead looking. The different times I've planted the seeds they've never ever sprouted. What am I doing wrong? Are the seeds dead? If not what is the best method to get them to grow? I sincerely appreciate any help you can provide and I'd truly like to figure out how to get these seeds to grow if that is at all possible. I collected these seeds off the hill where my father's ashes are scattered. He and my mother used to have an annual contest on who could find the earliest mayflower. My father always won and would proudly bring his mayflower in the house and present it to my mother. It's a wonderful memory for me. I'm sure you can imagine how great it would be if I could get these seeds to grow.

ANSWER:

Probably your seeds of the pasqueflower (Pulsatilla patens) are dead after storing in the plastic bag for several years. However, you can try something called a "rag-doll" germination test to determine whether or not they are dead. If you are able to get the seeds to germinate, you may not have success in getting them to grow in the heat and humidity of Virginia unless you live high in the Smoky Mountains. Perhaps you could honor your parents by planting pasqueflower seeds on the hill where your father's ashes are scattered the next time you visit South Dakota. If your seeds are dead, you can find others at several companies that specialize in native seeds in the Midwest. Prairie Restorations, Inc. in Princeton, Minnesota sells seeds under an older scientific hame, Pulsatilla nuttalliana. Prairie Frontier in Waukesha, Wisconsin and Prairie Moon Nursery in Winona Minnesota sell seeds under another old scientific name, Anemone patens. You can find more seed companies and nurseries specializing in native plants in the National Suppliers Directory by searching for "Seed Companies" or "Nurseries" in the Midwest.
 

More Wildflowers Questions

Wildflower field for sewage leach field from Olga Washington
August 01, 2012 - I am interested in planting a large native wildflower field at a resort in the San Juan Islands in Washington State. It would be over a sewage leach field for many cabins and bathrooms. Are there any ...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for an April wedding in McAllen TX
April 16, 2010 - I live in McAllen Texas and plan to get married April 2011. My dream is to get married at my parents ranch. I visualize beautiful wildflowers and I am not sure what to plant and when. Any suggestion...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Helianthus annuus
March 22, 2005 - I am doing an Earth Fair project on the Helianthus annuus. I would like to know if you possibly had any information on this subject. Some of the things I would like to know are: How big does it get? ...
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
May 09, 2003 - When can I harvest my Bluebonnets?
view the full question and answer

Flowers for monarch butterflies in Bastrop, Gonzales and Travis Counties of Texas
March 05, 2013 - Hi Mr./s. Smarty Plants, What are some flowers that grow naturally on a Bastrop, Travis, or Gonzales county riverside that monarch butterflies commonly feed on? Thank you
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