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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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Sunday - October 24, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: Wildflower seeds affected by mulch in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a small wildflower garden in my central Austin yard. In early summer, I had some extra mulch and put it in this garden. Now I'm thinking that was a mistake. The bed has re-seeded itself for several years now. Will the mulch interfere with re-seeding?

ANSWER:

It can, if the seeds are being caught in the mulch and unable to contact soil. Also, if the mulch is left on when the seeds are germinating, which is pretty soon for Central Texas, they would not be getting the sunlight they need for germination. You need to examine the beds where you let the plants re-seed and see if the mulch has decomposed enough that it is really blended into the soil. That is one of the advantages of organic mulches, they will more or less compost in place, amending the soil and contributing to good drainage. If not, we would definitely recommend at least lessening the thickness of the mulch around your wildflowers. And lift it off gently, by hand, because some of those seedlings may have already appeared. You could also try harvesting seed from some of your plants and then placing those seeds in a fertile location where they can get sun and contact with the soil. We have three How-To Articles that we would like for you to read; you can probably pick up some of the answer to your question from each:

How to Grow Bluebonnets

Meadow Gardening

Under Cover with Mulch

 

 

 

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