En EspaÑol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Thursday - June 30, 2011

From: Lucas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Care of wildflower meadow dried out in drought
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Mr Smarty Plants, Our wildflower patch is completely dried up here in Lucas,Tx. What do you do with the field? Mow it? Trim it? Let it be? The patch is about 1/2 acre.. Thanks,

ANSWER:

This year's drought has been harmful even for Texas native plants.  But most of them are accustomed to dry years and will come back when conditions are better.  I expect that your wildflower patch contains both annual and perennial species.  As a meadow matures to about three years of age the perennials tend to predominate and will survive as long as their roots remain intact.  But the annual flowers, such as Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), require seeds from this year's plants (or ungerminated seeds left over from a previous year) to produce new plants next season.  If your plants bore flowers this spring they most probably set seed.  Mowing the patch will help release any seeds still in pods and clear the way for them to germinate with the fall rains.  Seeds will germinate only if in good contact with the mineral soil.  You might consider dragging a rake or board over the area if you think some seeds have not fallen to the ground. If you can still see seeds of a few of your favorite plants, harvest them by hand and scatter them on the ground in September in advance of fall rains.

If you have tall grasses, such as Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem), Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) or Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass), do not set your mower blade lower than six inches.  Controlled burns of meadows with expert guidance are sometimes recommended, but it is much too dangerous to do this in such a dry year as we are having.

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks you will be rewarded with a fine crop of wildflowers next spring.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Evening star
Mentzelia laevicaulis

More Wildflowers Questions

Bluebonnets in Vermont
December 18, 2011 - Hi - I visited my sister in early November and we were given a sample of bluebonnet seeds. I live in Vermont, though and did not try to plant them in the ground here, as I believe they will not surviv...
view the full question and answer

New York City Native Perennials for a Long Growing Season
May 31, 2013 - Which native New York City perennials would be best for the longest growing season?
view the full question and answer

From Austin, some Texas bluebonnet seeds that will grow in San Diego, CA
April 05, 2014 - Is there a variety of Texas blue bonnet that will grow in San Diego, CA?
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers planted in Pittsfield, IL to bloom the first of October
July 01, 2010 - If I plant my wildflower seeds now in Illinois, is it possible they will bloom in three months (by the very beginning of October)?
view the full question and answer

Seeds of Meremia dissecta from Austin
September 30, 2012 - I have a large quantity of seeds of Merremia dissecta that I acquired from plants growing in the parking lot of the San Antonio Museum of Art. (Hmmm… I wonder if it's called alamo vine because of som...
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