En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - March 02, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Mixed wildflower seeds in pots in Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello - I live in Houston, TX and was recently given a few seed packets of mixed wildflowers. Unfortunately, I live in an apartment and I'm limited to a large balcony with a container garden. The balcony is not covered and gets full sun pretty much all day. Is it possible to grow the wildflowers in pots?

ANSWER:

First, read our How-To Article on Container Gardening with Native Plants, which will help you get started. 

It is certainly possible to grow wildflowers in pots. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center many wildflowers are grown for our Gardens and for the Plant Sales. However, this is one seed, of known parentage, to one small pot or a number sprinkled in a flat for sprouting, first in a greenhouse and next in a covered shade yard. Finally, they will be transplanted to a 4" pot and thence into the ground or sold at the Sale. In an apartment, you probably don't have room for greenhouse, shade yard or pots. In a mixed packet, you normally have no idea which seed is which, and discovering you have planted a 10-ft. tall sunflower in a small pot will be discouraging. The gift was a kind thought, but perhaps you might find a children's group, a school or a church garden that would like to try sowing the seeds into the ground, and just see what comes up.

Since you have full sun, you have a good locale for growing native wildflowers, but you would do better to purchase small 4 in. bedding plants to transplant into your larger pots, or try getting a packet of one seed that you know is native to your area and sprinkling several seeds into larger pots with potting soil in them, and giving them a chance to germinate there. You will then need to thin them out to make sufficient room for the individual plants to grow. Ordinarily, we recommend planting wildflower seeds at the same time they would be dropping their seeds, usually Fall. If you obtain a packet of just one kind of seeds, they should have instructions on the packet on time of planting, amount of sun and water needed and so forth. There are wildflowers that are perennials or biennials, but these seldom bloom until the second season; again, the package should give you that information. 

If you are willing to experiment, read this article from the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, Lady Bird's Legacy, quoting some experts including one from the Lady Bird Wildflower Center. From American Meadows, here is an article about someone who plants seeds, even mixed seeds, in containers, as she also lives in an apartment. However, she plants her seeds in the Spring, because she is in Vancouver, Canada. Don't make the mistake of planting yours in the Spring in Houston, the little baby plantlet will emerge just in time to be fried by the heat!

The seed packets you have been given should have the names of the plants the seeds of which are contained therein. We would strongly recommend you stick to flowers that are native to your area. You can go to our Native Plant Database, type in the name of each flower in the"Search" box at the top of the page, and it will take you to our page on that plant, if it is native to North America. On that page you will also find the states to which it is native, when it blooms and what colors, usually something about propagation, light requirements, etc. To give you some experience with this detective work, we will select some wildflowers that propagate well from seed and grow natively in the Houston area, and you can follow each plant link to see the page and information available.These are just examples of the many wildflowers you could grow.

Annual Wildflower Seeds for Houston:

Coreopsis tinctoria (golden tickseed) - 1-2 ft. tall, blooms yellow, brown, April to June, seeds sown outside in late Fall or following Spring

Dracopis amplexicaulis (clasping coneflower) -2-3 ft., blooms yellow April to July

Gaillardia pulchella (firewheel) - 1-2 ft., blooms yellow, red, brown May to August, plant in Fall

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) - 6-18", blooms blue, white March to May, sow seeds in Fall

Perennial Wildflower Seeds for Houston:

Conoclinium coelestinum (blue mistflower) - 1 to 3 ft. tall, blooms blue, purple July to November

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower) - 2 to 5 ft., blooms pink, purple April to September

Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox) - 8 to 18", evergreen, blooms white, red, pink, purple March to May

Salvia coccinea (blood sage) - 1 to 3 ft., blooms white, red, pink February to October

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Coreopsis tinctoria

Dracopis amplexicaulis

Gaillardia pulchella

Lupinus texensis

Conoclinium coelestinum

Echinacea purpurea

Phlox divaricata

Salvia coccinea

 

 

 

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Castillea indivisa as Texas native Indian Paintbrush
February 05, 2007 - Upon researching the Texas Indian-Paintbrush I have satisfactorially come up with the latin name Castilleja foliolosa, funny thing is on the plants.usda.gov site it shows that this plant grows ...
view the full question and answer

Late-blooming flowers for Northeast PA
May 12, 2007 - We have a weekend house in Northeast PA...Poconos. Pretty rocky terrain....when can we plant wildflowers? Is it too late to plant in late May? If so, when is best? What variety do you recommend fo...
view the full question and answer

Texas wildflowers for April wedding
March 13, 2007 - A friend of mine is getting married in Texas in April and wanted to decorate the event with flowers native to that state. In my experience wildflowers do not last long out of the ground or in cut for...
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
January 09, 2007 - My wife has recently contacted and met relatives from Texas (her father was a war baby born in the 1940's). Her new found Aunt Sarah has kindly given me some Bluebonnet seeds to plant "a corner of T...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets in Hampton VA?
July 12, 2014 - I gave my mom Blue Bonnet seeds for her yard in Hampton VA. She is on a mission to have no lawn and loves flowers. The seeds say to plant in Texas August-November. But, when should she plant them i...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center