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
1 rating

Saturday - January 15, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Is Annual Rye Choking Out Wildflowers in Austin?
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

We live about 3 miles from the wildflower center on 3 acres and there is a natural area on our property that gets a lot of wildflowers. Last winter we threw out annual rye seed to have some greenery during the winter (big mistake!). By the time last spring came, we still had a lot of tall grass and I told my husband we should weed eat it down one more time, but we didn't, and I think the tall grass choked out the wildflowers, as we had half as many. We didn't put out grass seed this year but I was wondering how we should maintain this area. or should we just let it be? There are native grasses growing there and as of now they are dormant but when spring comes I am unsure if we should trim down any grasses or not. Please help. Thank you

ANSWER:

First of all, don't beat yourself up too badly about the rye being to blame for your lack of wildflowers. Do, however, beat yourself enough so that you don't do it again. Mr. Smarty Plants only condones native plants.

Even with the great year for wildflowers we have experienced here in central Texas, some spots didn't have as many flowers as in previous years. Why? Who knows. Probably there are seeds sitting dormant in your area that just didn't get the word to come up this year. They may decide to come up this spring - or not.

As for this year, I'd recommend you go ahead and trim the dormant grass right now before the spring growth starts. Pretend you are a herd of buffalo munching it down close to the ground. That's what happened on the native prairies where these grasses originally grew. That may, or may not help the flowers, but at least it will get rid of the dead grass material so that the spring growth will show up well.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures to replace what you missed this year:


Lupinus texensis


Gaillardia pulchella


Engelmannia peristenia

 

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Are bluebonnets toxic to horses from Pearland TX
March 10, 2011 - Are bluebonnets toxic to horses?
view the full question and answer

Survival of bluebonnets in extreme heat from Tioga TX
September 03, 2011 - Is there anything I can do for my bluebonnet patch in this extreme drought for the rest of the summer and fall? Should I have watered this summer? I had a good show and think seeding was fairly normal...
view the full question and answer

Raised bed for wildflowers in Kilgore TX
September 29, 2008 - Please give me ideas of how to build a raised wildflower garden in a small back yard with 50% shade all day. I have common bermuda grass with an area of a 5' X 10' setting that will receive the mos...
view the full question and answer

Goldsturm Rudbeckia Stunted and Doesn't Bloom
April 16, 2015 - I have Goldsturm Rudbeckia that never flowers nor gets taller than 4 inches. Meanwhile, my phlox does fantastic in the same area. This area is sand top dressed with black dirt. Please help! Goldst...
view the full question and answer

Shallow Rooted Wildflowers for MA
March 25, 2015 - Do you have any suggestions for wildflowers that would be safe to grow on a capped landfill site? They would need to have roots no deeper than 24 inches.
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center