En EspaŅol

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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - September 03, 2011

From: Perkasie, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Survival of wildflowers after Hurricane Irene in Perkasie PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, We have (had) a beautiful row of wildflowers and sunflowers along the one side of our house. Now that Hurricane Irene has passed, most of the flowers are matted down from the wind and rain. Any suggestions on how to repair or salvage the plants? Or do I just cut them all back, start over, and wait until next year? Thanks!

ANSWER:

We are sorry about Irene and the damage it did. Not even native plants can withstand that kind of blow. By now, you may already know the answer to your question, as your plants may be standing up and looking about to see what happened. You didn't say what plants (besides the sunflower) you had, or whether they are annuals or perennials. Both will seed out after they have bloomed; by this time, those seeds should already have gone into the ground, and hopefully not all of them were washed away. Many wildflowers are annuals, and they put out tons of seeds to provide for the eventuality you encountered, that of very bad weather. On the other hand, most perennials will die back to the ground in the Fall anyway, and return the next Spring from roots. Since you may not know which are annuals and which are perennials, we are going to suggest you trim everything down to about 6" above the ground, mostly to mark where they are when Spring comes. This will take the weight of the "drowned" upper parts of the plants, and permit them to stand up and get some sun. If the annuals simply lie there, you can pull them out at the first frost, hoping that some seeds are still down there in the protective dirt, waiting to reappear. The prennials should start putting out new leaves from the roots when the earth begins to warm next Spring.

The same information applies to your sunflowers. There are 46 plants with the common name "sunflower" native to North America, and 19 native to Pennsylvania. Some are annuals, some perennials, but all are sturdy and good at propagating themselves. You will probably get no more blooms this year, no matter what, but we believe they will be back next year.

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Healthy native plants supporting local economy from Tacoma Park MD
February 17, 2012 - I am collecting information on how healthy native plant communities can support the local economy. Do you think the Texas bluebonnets are a good example of this in Texas? For example, do you know ma...
view the full question and answer

Seedball Germination in Dallas, TX
May 27, 2015 - Last Fall we created thousands of seedballs with Lady Bird's wildflower seed mixture, compost and clay, and planted them along a bike trail in Dallas, Texas. We are so disappointed because nothing h...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets emerging early after cool, wet spring
August 20, 2007 - Typically I see bluebonnet seedlings begin to erupt in the early Fall. But this year, I began to see seedlings almost immediately after my crop went to seed. In fact, it is now early August and I ha...
view the full question and answer

Getting started in gardening
September 16, 2006 - Does the center publish any or several planting guides to help gardeners get started? I find it is overwhelming understanding where to start. I have some lake property in East Texas close to Athen...
view the full question and answer

Preparation for wildflower meadow at elementary school
August 04, 2007 - I am a Scout working on starting a wildflower meadow at an Elementary school. How should I prepare the ground and what types of seeds do well in zipcode area 76092? I would also like so add some nat...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center