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 - December 06, 2005

From: irving, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Viability of seeds that have not come up
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I planted some wildflower seeds per instructions and they are not coming up. Should they? or will they come up in spring?

ANSWER:

The short answer is "maybe", it depends on several factors. First of all, were the seeds viable? Where did you get the seeds? How old were they? Had they been stored properly? Seed storage can affect the viability of seeds. High humidity and high temperatures adversely affect the viability of seeds. Some seeds have a limited storage life even if stored under optimal conditions. It is too late for the seeds you have already sown, but in future you can check the viability using the "Rag-Doll" test for seed germination on a small sample of the seeds you are sowing.

Another factor that could affect seed germination is that the seeds for some plants require special treatments before they will germinate. Your seed packet should have had instructions if this was the case. For instance, Texas bluebonnet seeds require scarification to insure a high percentage of germination. Some other species (in particular, perennials) require cold stratification to germinate.

Different wildflowers have different strategies for growing. Some that drop their seeds in the late spring or summer, germinate in the fall or winter and survive till spring as a small plant (for example, the rosette of the bluebonnet that forms in the late fall/early winter). In the spring the small plant expands its growth and blooms. Other species drop their seeds in late spring or summer and do not germinate until the following spring. If the latter situation fits your wildflower seeds, you may still see plants germinate in the spring.

Finally, it is possible that your seeds were eaten by insects or birds; or, if they were sown in a location with poor drainage and were over-watered, they may have succumbed to a fungus. If they were sown outdoors, you will just have to wait and watch for them and hope that they do germinate in the spring. If you sowed them in pots, you should move the pots outdoors so that the seeds will be experiencing normal winter temperatures and light cycles. If they do germinate before the last freeze, you can protect the tender young plants by moving them inside temporarily until the danger of frost is over.
 

More Wildflowers Questions

Planting wildflowers in spring for spring bloom
March 02, 2012 - I was wondering if it is possible to plant wildflowers around this time of year, and expect them to bloom in the spring still? I have heard that many wildflowers germinate in the fall. Are there c...
view the full question and answer

Fall Wildflowers for Helotes, TX
October 20, 2014 - Dear Smarty, Could you please suggest a few colorful wildflowers for a sunny area. I live north of San Antonio, TX and would like to plant some flowers in October but I want something that has been ...
view the full question and answer

Are Texas wildflowers dying out from Portland, TX
January 27, 2011 - I am doing a school project on whether or not wildflowers are dying out in the state of Texas or not. I need to find a specialist who specializes on this subject. Could you help me??? Please contac...
view the full question and answer

When do you put out bluebonnet seeds in Bastrop, TX?
April 17, 2012 - When do you put out bluebonnet seeds?? I hear fall but don't the seeds pop out of dried up plants in early summer?
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

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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center