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?


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
1 rating

Wednesday - November 03, 2010

From: Shiro, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Planting wildflower seeds in a drought in Grimes Co. TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a dilemma, shared by others I'm sure. My place, which is in Oakland prairie, has seen no real rainfall since sometime in August, and the soil (sand, loam, and blackland clays)is extremely dry. I have seeds for lanceleaf coreopsis,Indian blanket, inland sea oats, and Drummond phlox which I normally would plant anticipating fall rains, but it doesn't look like we are going to get much according to NOAA. Any suggestions? Shall I wait longer or for spring? Additional watering is pretty much out of the question.


Be of good cheer, Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis), Gaillardia pulchella (Firewheel), Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats), and Phlox drummondii (Annual phlox all are native to the Grimes County area. As a result, they are accustomed by millennia of experience to living even when conditions get a little challenging. You can follow each plant link above to get the specific propagation instructions from our page on that particular plant.

The Indian blanket and phlox are both annuals. It is important to get them in the soil in the Fall to ensure some seed-bearing plants next year to perpetuate themselves. The Coreopsis and Inland Sea Oats are both perennials, to be planted in either Fall or Spring. Since perennials seldom bloom until the second growing season, planting the coreopsis in the Fall should ensure that you will get at least some blooms next year. The Inland Sea Oats is really better planted in the early Spring, as that is when the seeds germinate anyway.

With or without rain, we would suggest that you go ahead and get at least some of the seeds in the ground. Make sure they make good contact with the soil, perhaps raking them lightly, to wait for rain. As is usual with native seeds, some of those seeds may wait in the soil for years before they get the right conditions and come up. Then, in the Spring, plant some more; with reseeding and perpetuation you should have years of blooms.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Coreopsis lanceolata

Gaillardia pulchella

Chasmanthium latifolium

Phlox drummondii


More Propagation Questions

Virginia wild strawberry plants for New Hampshire or Massachusetts
February 25, 2009 - Where can I find Virginia wild strawberry plants or seeds for my garden and will they grow up north in New Hampshire or Massachusetts?
view the full question and answer

Lilies not blooming from Austin
May 03, 2013 - Last December 8, you published a letter in the Statesman that I had written to you regarding Rain Lilies, Oxblood Lilies, and Copper Lilies. The were sprouting in my garage in a bag. You recommended...
view the full question and answer

Sagebrush for Westminster CO
August 06, 2010 - On a recent visit to Taos, NM we fell in love with the local sagebrush. We would like to plant this sagebrush in our yard. We are located near Denver Colorado. Would this plant survive and how do we g...
view the full question and answer

Has Texas Black Persimmon been crossed with non-native persimmons from Austin
August 17, 2013 - Hi. I just found a Texas Black Persimmon in my neighborhood. The fruit is olive green and then black, then it explodes into a black slurry of seeds and syrup. The color is so strong I find myself wond...
view the full question and answer

Pollinating moth of Arkansas Yucca from Arlington TX
May 15, 2012 - What is the pollinating moth of the Arkansas yucca. I have Desert willows which is the larval host for white-winged moth, but the yuccas are still not seeding. What other larval hosts plants can I p...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center