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?


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


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!


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 Herbs/Forbs Questions

Native plants for memorial garden in Michigan
March 04, 2008 - I want to start a memorial garden for my daughter. I live in northern Michigan and the area has very tall white pines we have pruned them up about 15' so the area does get partial sun. Which plants w...
view the full question and answer

Habiturf lawn in Carson City, NV
October 15, 2013 - I planted habiturf just south of Reno NV May 5. First two months no or little germination because nite temps too cold. Now doing ok except battling purslane and redstem filaree.. SO, I notice bare/spa...
view the full question and answer

Poppies for a wedding in August from Highlands Ranch CO
February 04, 2013 - Are poppies available to buy for weddings in August in Colorado?
view the full question and answer

What are the grey-green plants on oak trees in San Marcos, TX?
March 12, 2011 - The oak trees in the neighborhood in San Marcos, TX, are covered with clumps, or balls, of gray/green fluffy-looking plants. they remind me of bromeliads. You can pull and knock them off; after wind ...
view the full question and answer

Blackfoot daisy turning brown in Round Rock, TX
September 30, 2009 - A few days ago, our blackfoot daisy was doing wonderfully. Then we got heavy rains and suddenly the plant is sere and brown. Did the too wet weather do this, and will it come back next year?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center