En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Is Annual Rye Choking Out Wildflowers in Austin?

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

Best time for wildflower planting in the Ozarks
April 13, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in the Ozarks, and have an open bottomland valley area I want to transform into more natives for many reasons. I am starting a 2 acre field of NATIVE grasses (warm sea...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets planted in late spring bloom, will they bloom again?
February 06, 2008 - New to South Texas & we decided to plant bluebonnets around our house. The seeds were planted in late spring & we were delighted to watch them start their initial growth-cycle. They ultimately produc...
view the full question and answer

Desmanthus and Chamaecrista seeds
June 05, 2005 - Hello my wildflower specialist friend. I got 20 Desmanthus illinoensis and also Chamaecrista fasciculata seeds. Then I planted them in early March, when there was still frost, in clayish soil, not far...
view the full question and answer

Can I grow Texas bluebonnets in Georgia?
May 25, 2010 - Being a native Texan, my mom loves bluebonnets. We live in Georgia, however so I am wondering if I planted some bluebonnets in her yard would they grow? What are the best conditions for bluebonnets ...
view the full question and answer

Why Did Gaillardia and Aquilegia Changed Color?
June 26, 2013 - Both a Gaillardia pulchella and two red columbines bloomed normally last summer, but this summer the Gaillardia's petals are all yellow and one columbine is white and the other is yellow. What caused...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center