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Mr. Smarty Plants - Wildflower succession from Austin

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Saturday - April 02, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Wildflower succession from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am interested in learning about a wildflower "cycle" (not sure of a better term). I recently saw the Wildflower special on PBS that talked briefly about an area that had wildflowers that naturally started blooming as the flowers before them started to die off.. Almost like they were companion planted in such a way to be ready with another kind of wildflower when some died off. Where can I find more information about that?

ANSWER:

We know the program to which you are referring, which includes several Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center staff members and quite a bit of the photography from the Wildflower Center. We have a copy of the DVD and reviewed it again last night to catch the phrase you mentioned. As it sounded to us, the voice-over was saying that certain plants grew together naturally, and if the habitat is not disturbed, the wildflowers more or less take turns blooming as the season goes on. Whether this is what you were talking about, we're not sure.

If you are interested in a wildflower "cyling" meadow, we don't have any specific information about that, but we can make some suggestions. First of all, now is not the time to be planting wildflowers in Central Texas, but this would be a very good time to start planning. We have a number of good How-To articles that give help on the general subject, so settle down for a little reading first, and then we will offer you a way to select plants.

A Guide to Native Plant Gardening

Wildlife Gardening

How to Grow Bluebonnets

Getting Started (on large scale wildflower planting)

Meadow Gardening

We are assuming that you want to create a "continuous bloom" area of wildflowers. Of course, year round is out of the question, although there are some wildflowers that will bloom, under the right conditions, most of the year. You need a selection of both re-seeding annuals and perennials that will both seed and come up from roots in the Spring, and these need to be native to the area in which you are gardening, which is Central Texas. We are going to walk you through using our Native Plant Database to select native herbaceous blooming plants, or wildflowers. You can use the same methods to pick out trees, grasses, vines, etc, but right now we're talking flowers.

Go to our Recommended Species section, and click on Central Texas on the map. This will give you a list of all kinds of plants native to Central Texas, trees, shrubs, etc. Next, in the sidebar to the right, clidk on "herb" (herbaceous blooming plant) and then Narrow Your Search. This will give you a list of 65 blooming plants that could be included in your "cycle."

This turned out to be a fun project, but time-consuming. Our list consists of one flower that blooms in each month of the year. All bloom more than one month, most bloom several months. You will have to make your own lists, checking each webpage for type of soil, sun and moisture needs and so forth. You can arrange for different colors at different times, plant perennials that will die back and come up again, perennials that are semi-evergreen, annuals that will bloom like crazy and then die, but first drop seeds for next year. As you go deeper into Spring and Summer, there are more repeats of the same plants and lots more to choose from. In January and December, there isn't a lot of choice, but all those plants keep blooming for a long time. So, here is our list, have fun making your own:

January: Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa (Four-nerve daisy)- perennial, evergreen, blooms yellow January to December

February: Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose) - semi-evergreen, perennial, blooms pink February to July

March: Asclepias asperula (Spider milkweed) - blooms white March to October, evergreen

April: Callirhoe involucrata (Winecup) - evergreen to semi-evergreen, blooms white, pink, purple March to June

May: Centaurea americana (American basket-flower) - annual, blooms white, pink May and June

June: Coreopsis tinctoria var. tinctoria (Golden tickseed) - annual, blooms yellow, brown February to November

July: Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower) - perennial, blooms pink, purple April to September

August: Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower) - perennial, deciduous, blooms blue, purple July to September

September: Eryngium leavenworthii (Leavenworth's eryngo) - annual, blooms blue, purple July to September

October: Melampodium leucanthum (Blackfoot daisy) - perennial, blooms white, yellow March to December

November: Thelesperma filifolium var. filifolium (Stiff greenthread) - annual, blooms yellow February to December

December: Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena) - annual, blooms pink, purple March through December

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Hymenoxys odorata


Oenothera speciosa


Asclepias asperula


Callirhoe involucrata


Centaurea americana


Coreopsis tinctoria var. tinctoria


Echinacea purpurea


Lobelia cardinalis


Eryngium leavenworthii


Melampodium leucanthum


Thelesperma filifolium var. filifolium


Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

 

 

 

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