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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.

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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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Tuesday - February 15, 2011

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Select Region
Topic: General Botany, Wildflowers
Title: Will recent freezes delay wildflowers from Dripping Springs TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What effect will the recent freezing temperatures have on the Texas Hill Country Wildflowers? Will it delay blooming? Thank you!

ANSWER:

To prepare the answer to your question, we looked back at previous Mr. Smarty Plants' answers. Did you know you could do that, and often find the exact answer you are looking for? Go to "Ask "Mr. Smarty Plants" on our website wildflower.org under the tab for "Explore Plants" and search on "bluebonnets." We did that this morning and there were 197 possibilities. Scanning through them, we found basically the same question as yours at about the same time of year, for the last several years. Sometimes they were concerned about too much/too little rain, cold temperatures, hot temperatures, etc., etc. The gist of these answers:

Texas wildflowers are adapted to living in the capricious weather of Texas-the long droughts, the flooding rains, the heat and sudden drops in temperature. They adapt by dropping their seeds on the ground in the Fall, the gentlest time of year for planting seeds. Then, they wait in that soil until warmth, rain and other conditions tell them it's time to germinate. This could be 60 days after the seeds drop, or 5 years. They will endure insect attacks, loss of fertility, even rotting but, because of the great number of seeds produced every year, some will survive to germinate, grow, bloom and make more seeds to continue the species. If there are blooming delays, it won't be for more than a few days. In fact, there are already bluebonnets in bloom on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Grounds, see picture. That picture was taken on January 19.

The tops of the rosettes on your bluebonnets may have gotten a little nipped, but they are growing with their roots in the nice warm soil, which doesn't freeze. Like other native flowers, they have learned to keep their heads down until worst threat of freezing weather is past. The first imperative of any organism is to produce more of itself. Those plants will be working hard to bloom, seed, cast those seeds and reproduce.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

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