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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.

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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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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!

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Tuesday - October 18, 2011

From: Brenham, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Meadow Gardens, Planting, Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: When to reseed wildflowers in a drought year?
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

My acreage with extensive wildflowers was mowed in 2010 before annuals had seeded. Only a few returned this year. Considering the predicted lonterm drought should I postpone reseeding this fall?

ANSWER:

 

Seeds of Bluebonnets, Gallardia, and many other Texas spring-blooming wildflowers need to germinate in the fall to facilitate development of deep roots and a rosette of leaves over the winter months.  There would not be time enough to do this if the seeds were planted in the spring.  A "good year" for bloom requires some rain during the winter to support rosette formation.  Of course, during a drought there may not be sufficient fall and winter rain to achieve this, so reseeding in the fall does involve some risk.  However, it is a risk that must be taken.  In the event that no rain falls during the winter, many of the seeds will remain ungerminated and will have a second chance the following year.  And if only a few plants do bloom they will at least provide a new seed supply for next year.

I would encourage you to reseed right away and hope for rain in the near future.  Some seeds have already germinated as a result of rain falling in recent weeks. Try to bring the seeds into contact with the mineral soil as much as possible.  This will take full advantage of whatever moisture is available.

Check out this Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center web site for tips on distributing your seeds efficiently.  And pray for rain!

 

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