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
7 ratings

Monday - May 31, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Seeds for Fall bloom in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


What seeds should I be planting now for fall blooms here in Austin?


Frankly, nothing that comes instantly to mind. The heat is already upon us, and seeds planted now might emerge only to get fried in the hot Texas sun. There are both annuals and perennials that bloom in September, October and November in Austin, but a lot of them are already blooming, having  begun in April or May, from seeds that were planted last Fall.  Perennials that are propagated by seed would be up by now, after having been planted last Fall, but perennials rarely bloom until the second season. So, if you had planted some annual seeds last Fall, you could have already had blooms from a number of them, beginning in February or March, and they would  be preparing to seed now so the seeds can lie in the soils for a few months preparing to germinate in late Winter. Perennials often propagate more reliably by division or by taking cuttings but, again, if that was done now, it would be pretty hard for them to survive, and they still wouldn't bloom until next Spring and early Summer.

If you really want some blooms in a Fall garden this year, we would suggest finding some bedding plants at a nursery, getting them in the ground quickly and giving them plenty of water and watch them for transplant shock. 

If you would like to plan ahead for Fall 2011, we will find some annuals and perennials native to Austin that can be propagated by seed and will be blooming in some of the Fall months, but not this Fall. Follow each link to the page on that plant to learn how it is propagated, what care, light and moisture is needed, and when it blooms. With some exceptions, the recommendation is that seed be planted in mid-Fall, or about the time those plants in the wild are dropping their seeds.  We have a wonderful How-To Article A Guide to Native Plant Gardening that is full of information on preparation of gardens and propagation, and recommend it to anyone interested in getting a garden growing.

We are going to go to our Recommended Species, click on Central Texas on the map, and then select a variety of herbs (herbaceous blooming plants), annual and perennial, that are Fall bloomers. Follow each plant link to the page on that plant to find out how it can be propagated, whether it needs sun, part shade or shade, moisture and so forth. You can repeat this search, making your own choices.

Fall-blooming annuals for Austin:

Chamaecrista fasciculata var. fasciculata (partridge pea) -  blooms yellow May to October

Eryngium leavenworthii (Leavenworth's eryngo) - blooms purple July to September

Salvia coccinea (blood sage) - blooms red February to October

Machaeranthera tanacetifolia (tanseyleaf tansyaster) - blooms purple May to October

Fall-blooming perennials for Austin:

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower) - blooms red May to October

Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot) - blooms white March to November

Ratibida columnifera (upright prairie coneflower) - blooms orange, yellow,  brown May to October

Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa (stemmy four-nerve daisy) - blooms yellow January to December

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Chamaecrista fasciculata var. fasciculata

Eryngium leavenworthii

Salvia coccinea

Machaeranthera tanacetifolia

Lobelia cardinalis

Melampodium leucanthum

Ratibida columnifera

Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa





More Wildflowers Questions

General Wildflower Reference
March 07, 2008 - Can you recommend a good general reference book on wildflowers that is not limited by being either regional or a field guide? (I already have Wildflowers Across America.) I am looking for a work whi...
view the full question and answer

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

Name of the yellow wildflowers that gave Amarillo, TX its name
March 01, 2016 - What is the name of the yellow wildflowers that gave Amarillo, Texas, its name?
view the full question and answer

Boom time for Texas wildflowers and best sites for viewing
February 01, 2006 - I live in NJ and would like to visit Texas and see the bluebonnets and other wildflowers in bloom this spring. When do you expect the best display of flowers this year? Also, can you tell me where th...
view the full question and answer

Questions about Clematis virginiana in Austin, TX.
August 26, 2011 - Hello! I have a few questions regarding Clematis virginiana. Is it scented? Does it attract birds and butterflies? Do only female flowers get the feathery plumes? If yes, how do I know if ...
view the full question and answer

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