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

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!

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

Alternatives to Lily of the Valley in Arkansas
March 08, 2011 - I saw the question from the person who was looking for a native equivalent to Lily of the Valley and immediately thought of Solomon's Seal, which has similar bells on a stalk and grows in similar loc...
view the full question and answer

Few bluebonnets on MoPac in Austin
March 30, 2013 - The grass fields along Mopac from Lake Lady Bird to Southwest Parkway usually have a grand display of bluebonnets. This year I do not see any color at all. Can you help me understand what is happening...
view the full question and answer

Drought resistant flowering plants for Spring, TX
January 25, 2012 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants. I live in Spring Tx. and wanted to plant a garden in my front yard. I'm looking for flowering plants that are colorful, easy to manage, and drought resistant but so far can't fi...
view the full question and answer

Starting Melochia Pyramidata from Seed
November 06, 2014 - Last year some Melochia pyramidata popped up in my yard all on its own. I was able to gather some (really neat looking) seed pods once they had dried out. I'm moving pretty soon and I'd like to grow...
view the full question and answer

Wet adapted plants for Virginia Beach VA
June 28, 2013 - I live in Virginia Beach, VA on Lynnhaven waterway (leads into Chesapeake bay, but at my point is more brackish). I've recently removed/contained bamboo with concrete and metal barriers and now want...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center