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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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Thursday - May 11, 2006

From: Flower Mound, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Wildflower seeds for trail for Eagle Scout project
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Andrea DeLong-Amaya

QUESTION:

I'm a boy scout with Troop 1202 in the Dallas, Texas area, planning an eagle project to benefit my local parks department. The project will be to plant native wildflowers (from seed) along a trail. I would like to plant purple coneflowers, but I've heard they are best planted in the fall and I only have until around July to complete my project. Would the coneflowers still turn out all right if I plant them between May and June? If so, would I need to take any special planting measures? Also, if it would not be good to plant the coneflowers, which of the following (if any) would be best planted during that time: Indian Blanket, Evening Primrose, or Lazy White Daisy? Thank you so much for your help.

ANSWER:

For the majority of wildflowers fall is the recommended time to sow seeds. Of all the flowers you named, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is your best bet for planting in May to flower this summer. It will be most successful if you can water the area during the summer. Since fall planting is the best time for wildflowers, perhaps you can continue your project then so that you can increase the variety of wildflowers that you are sowing.

In our Native Plant Library you can find several articles that might be useful to your project (e.g., "Large Scale Wildflower Planting" and "Wildflower Meadow Gardening"). You can check our National Suppliers Directory for seed companies in Texas that carry native wildflower seeds. In a preliminary search I found that Native American Seed in Junction and Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg have purple coneflower for sale. Also, you might check with a chapter in your area of the Native Plant Society of Texas for resources for native seeds and plants.
 

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