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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 - September 29, 2011

From: Friendswood, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Wildflowers
Title: 2012 wildflower forecast from Friendswood TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What is your current view of the 2012 Wildflower Forecast? What weeks might be best for someone traveling from Colorado to see our flowers? We are concerned about what the drought will do to the 2012 season. Thanks!!!

ANSWER:

We wish we could say otherwise, but not too good, at least right now. Taking the Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) as an example, it is a winter annual. Winter rains are very important to allow the seeds in the soil to germinate and begin to emerge as rosettes early in January. Year before last, we had a wonderful wildflower year, because of good rains in the fall and winter. All living things, including wildflowes, have a Prime Directive to produce more of themselves. Annual flowers, which includes many of the Texas wildflowers, rush to bloom as soon as they can, and set seed, which are either gathered by gardeners or self-distributed. Using our bluebonnet sample, those seeds are coated with a protective coat which may take several years in the ground to germinate. This means that, even though we had a very bad year this year, there are still millions of viable seeds in the soil waiting for better times, perhaps for several years.

The best we have been able to determine from long-term weather forecasts, there is at least one more year of unusually dry weather in store for Texas and most of the Southwest. This doesn't mean there will be no wildflowers-we explained about the drive to reproduce-some will come up and bloom. More will come up and bloom if we have some good rains in the winter. Best of all would be continued rains into Spring to encourage the sprouting, flowering and re-seeding of later-blooming wildflowers, both annual and perennial.

If your Colorado friends wish to set a date to come, early April is traditionally considered the best time. And we would certainly invite you to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, where Mr. Smarty Plants is based. Although the Wildflower Center observes watering restrictions carefully, it is completely planted in native plants, all of which have seen droughts before. Go to the Wildflower Center main page, at wildflower.org, for directions, activities and links to information about the drought and some of our research projects.

No one is pulling harder for the Texas wildflower than we are!

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

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