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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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.

 
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Thursday - January 07, 2010

From: Fort Worth , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Time to sow wildflower seeds in Ft. Worth TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

When do I sow wildflower seeds?

ANSWER:

There are two more or less standard answers to this question, especially in warmer climates like Texas. The first is to sow them in the Fall, September to October. The second is to sow them at the same time as the plants in the wild are dropping their seeds. Again, in Texas, this usually comes out to be about the same time. If you buy a commercial packet of seeds, they will often have a time to plant, sometimes for various climates.

We do not recommend purchasing "mixed" wildflower seeds. These can not only have non-native seeds, but seeds that might be invasive and become weeds in your garden and everyone's garden around you. Purchase seeds that are native to your area. We sometimes get requests from gardeners in the Northeast and even in England who are homesick for their bluebonnets and want to know if they can grow them there. The answer is, probably not. Plants that grow and do well in Texas are plants acclimated by eons of experience to the soils, climate and rainfall of a certain area. 

Our How-To Article, Gardening Timeline, is written for Texas gardeners, and can give you some good ideas on when to do what in your garden. Since one of our most common requests is for information on growing bluebonnets, take a look at our How-To Article How To Grow Bluebonnets. For more general information on preparing the soil, water, sun exposure and so forth, see our How-To Article on large scale wildflower planting Getting Started. This pertains to large projects, but has information useful for the planning of the smallest garden.

To find out about specific native wildflowers, go to our Native Plant Database. Enter the common or scientific name (if you know it) in the specified box. You will get a page of information on that particular flower, with bloom times, colors, area where it is native, sunlight needed and other information important to that plant flourishing. To use the Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) again as an example, you will find out that this plant is an annual, blooms blue and white March to May, native distribution is in south central and north central Texas, has low water use, needs full sun (6 hours or more of sun a day), and is propagated by seed. 

 

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