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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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Thursday - January 27, 2011

From: Portland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Are Texas wildflowers dying out from Portland, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am doing a school project on whether or not wildflowers are dying out in the state of Texas or not. I need to find a specialist who specializes on this subject. Could you help me??? Please contact me ASAP!!!

ANSWER:

We don't usually do things "ASAP" very well; our website says we attempt to answer questions within 3 to 4 weeks. However, since this is for a school project, we want to see if we can point you in the right direction to get some answers.

To begin with, there are fewer places where wildflowers can grow in Texas every year. This is due to habitat change, to development and urbanization, and sometimes to non-native invasive plants crowding out the area where the wildflowers originally grew. They are not "dying out" as from some insect or disease, they are being crowded out. But, trust us, they will be around for a long time if people just learn not to abuse them, and leave places where they can grow.

From the Dallas Morning News: Just as beautiful for less money, less work. This article has several good ideas on ways to encourage wildflowers to grow. In our How-To Articles, we have an article on Alternative to Collecting Wildflowers.

The advantage to wildflowers is that they are native to where they are being grown. They have already adapted through millions of years to growing in the soil, climate, rainfall and environment where we find them today. The wildflowers that grow in Texas will not necessarily grow in Wisconsin. In fact, the most popular Texas wildflower, Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is endemic to Texas; that is, it does not grow naturally anywhere else. The insects, especially the pollinators, that visit these wildflowers do not hurt them, actually they are welcome and essential in propagating that plant.

How can we help to keep them from dying out?

1.  Plant them, but don't plant them just anywhere, plant them where they belong.

2.  Try to get rid of the invasive plants that crowd out and shade the lower-growing wildflowers, but not with herbicides-these will kill the wildflowers, too!

3.  Help others understand how important natives are in their gardens, and on the roadsides. One more How-To Article: Be Plantwise.

 

More Wildflowers Questions

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Erosion Control Shrubs and Groundcovers for Steep NY Wooded Slope
November 28, 2015 - I need to cover a couple of very steep slopes in upstate New York that are partially wooded and near a brook. The slopes are about 130 feet back from the brook. Someone estimated that there is a coupl...
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Recreating a wildflower meadow, central Texas
July 02, 2013 - We have an acre on our property that has bluebonnets. Unfortunately, it also has other plants that we don't want -Johnson grass, nettles, burrs. We plan to do a controlled burn in the fall and re-...
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wildflowers with interesting seed heads for winter interest
January 09, 2015 - I am looking to establish a wildflower meadow this year, and I want to include wildflowers that have interesting seed heads for winter interest. What would be your recommendation? Thanks!
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Smarty Plants on wildflower collecting
August 23, 2004 - Is wildflower collecting a good school activity?
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