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?


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
1 rating

Sunday - May 02, 2010

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Perennial wildflowers for lawn in Dallas
Answered by: Barbara Medford


What perennial wildflowers can I plant in Dallas Texas that will bloom in March or early April that I can just toss out on the lawn? I know you have to soak bluebonnets.


Well, see, it doesn't work like that. "Lawn" and "wildflowers" tend to be self-exclusive. A lawn is grasses that are expected to be mowed about every week during heavy growing season. Wildflowers must be given a chance to bloom, mature, set seed and drop it before they get mowed. Plus, many of the favorite Texas wildflowers are annuals, not perennials. For instance, Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is a winter annual, dropping its seeds from the legume pods in Fall, the seeds gradually work their way down into the soil (which could take two or three years), the soil and rainfall "weather" the seeds until their seed coverings permit them to germinate, and then they pop up, showing rosettes in January that you might mistake for weeds, and only beginning to look like a bluebonnet in mid-March. Most wildflower seeds need good soil contact, which they certainly won't get in a thatch of lawn. You could "throw out" a whole bunch of seeds, and might get only two or three blooms. A tiny seedling trying to get up through that lawn barrier is going to struggle, at best. The rest of the seeds will have been consumed by rodents, carried off  by birds to bloom somewhere else, rotted or finally have soaked down into some dirt. Then, in their own good time, those members of the last class will begin to show up, years later. 

So, just to kind of bring you up to speed on how these things work, we would like for you to read two of our How-To Articles, How to Grow Bluebonnets and Meadow Gardening. Then, we will go to our Recommended Species section, select on North Central Texas on the map, and search first for herbaceous blooming plants under "General Appearance" and annual under "Lifespan." The next search will be the same, except for perennial under "Lifespan." On both searches, we will ask for flowers that bloom in March and April. Since you did not specify Light Requirements: Sun (more than 6 hours of sun a day), part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun), or shade (less than 2 hours of sun), that would be one more set of specifications for each search, and would sharply cut down the number of plants in the category. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn colors, propagation, size, growing conditions and light requirements. While the annuals ordinarily bloom, set seed and die in one year, usually perennials do not bloom until the second year, and continue to survive via both rootstock and seeds. 


Annual Wildflowers for North Central Texas (6):

Amblyolepis setigera (huisache daisy)

Castilleja indivisa (entireleaf Indian paintbrush)

Coreopsis tinctoria (golden tickseed)

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Dakota mock vervain)

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet)

Phlox drummondii (annual phlox)

Perennial Wildflowers for North Central Texas (11):

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Callirhoe digitata (winecup)

Callirhoe involucrata (purple poppymallow)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Engelmannia peristenia (Engelmann's daisy)

Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot)

Oenothera speciosa (pinkladies)

Penstemon cobaea (cobaea beardtongue)

Physostegia pulchella (showy false dragonhead)

Salvia farinacea (mealycup sage)

Salvia roemeriana (cedar sage)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Amblyolepis setigera

Castilleja indivisa

Coreopsis tinctoria

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Lupinus texensis

Phlox drummondii

Aquilegia canadensis

Callirhoe digitata

Callirhoe involucrata

Echinacea purpurea

Engelmannia peristenia

Melampodium leucanthum

Oenothera speciosa

Penstemon cobaea

Physostegia pulchella

Salvia farinacea

Salvia roemeriana






More Turf Questions

Buffalograss as lawn replacement in Austin, TX
March 12, 2007 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I have just moved into a house that has a yard full of weeds. I was planning on killing the existing ground cover and starting buffalo grass, when I came upon several articles on...
view the full question and answer

Controlling weeds in Habiturf lawn
May 16, 2015 - What's the best way to get rid of weeds in a Habiturf lawn? Habiturf seems like a great idea, but even with no extra water and no fertilizer, it seems the weeds take over - K.R. Bluestem and various...
view the full question and answer

Elimination of non-native, invasive King Ranch bluestem in lawn
June 06, 2006 - How can I eliminate an annual infestation of king ranch bluestem in my bermuda lawn? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Live oak sprouts in lawn and flower beds
March 06, 2008 - I have several live oak trees that keep putting up sprouts in my lawn and flower beds. Is there any way to prevent this ?
view the full question and answer

Habiturf in Houston
January 30, 2012 - I want to install a Multi-Species Native Lawn, like HABITURF. However, I live in Houston, Texas and most of your information on this topic doesn't address my region. As I don't have a heavily shaded...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center