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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - April 10, 2012

From: Spring Branch, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Meadow Gardens, Grasses or Grass-like, Wildflowers
Title: Herbicide use in bluebonnet field in Blanco, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have the best of both worlds and the worst of both worlds. Iíve been throwing bluebonnet seeds for 6 years on our property near Blanco, and when it rains, as it has this year, am starting to establish a very nice spring wildflower display. I also have established buffalo grass mixed in with the wildflowers. However, the weeds are another problemÖ There are products that kill broadleaf weeds and donít harm buffalo grass (Image) but they kill the wildflowers. And there are products that kill grasses but donít harm broadleaf weeds/forbes (wildflowers). But there are no selective products that keep the buffalo grass alive and at the same time, donít harm the wildflowers. Bluebonnets begin to grow their rosettes in November/December. Iím wondering what would happen if I sprayed an herbicide like Image in September, if it would harm the bluebonnet seeds lying on the ground. I know bluebonnets have a tough coating in the wild, and wonder if this coating would protect them from the herbicide? If I sprayed in September, I was thinking the herbicide would kill the weeds, but the bluebonnetís tough coating and fall rains would protect the seeds until they starting growing their rosettes in late Nov/Dec. What do you think about this scheme? I try, but I canít pull weeds on 17 acres. Thank you for your help.

ANSWER:

The word herbicide comes to us from the Latin herba = plant and caedere = to kill. Weeds, unfortunately, don’t come with a clear cut definition, and are sometimes in the eye of the beholder. This brings to mind the aphorism; “One person’s weeds are another person’s wildflowers.” You didn’t mention the kinds of weeds you are battling, so this makes an evaluation of your scheme difficult. I’m not clear what plants you would be spraying in September that would interfere with bluebonnets in the spring. Bluebonnets can begin germinating in October, and the herbicide sprayed in September may have a residual effect on the young seedlings.

I’m going to provide links to three sites that may prove helpful to you. The first is to this aggie-horticulture site that describes bluebonnet cultivation. The second  from our  “How to Articles" also tells about growing bluebonnets. The third selection, A GUIDE TO NATIVE PLANT GARDENING, deals with soil preparation when planting and growing wildflowers.

 

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

More Wildflowers Questions

Preplant dip for wildflowers from Gilman IA
March 02, 2011 - I am growing wildflowers in a greenhouse for wholesale spring sales. The very tall varieties such as cimicifuga stretch very quickly. Do you know of any chemical treatments as a preplant dip that have...
view the full question and answer

Where and when bloom; will they bloom in artificial light
November 06, 2005 - Do wildflowers grow through out the world, even in desert and Arctic regions? When do they bloom? Will they bloom in artificial light? What is the most interesting fact about wildflowers?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on mowing schedules
September 23, 2004 - What would be the ideal mowing schedule to allow for a spring and summer bloom of wildflowers? My neighborhood maintains it's own roadsides and has the opportunity to increase the number of wildflowe...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of California poppies in Abilene, TX
September 25, 2008 - I live in Abilene,TX and would like to plant some California Poppies from seed. Is it best to sow these in the fall or wait until the spring? Our winters can produce some cold spells of below 20 degre...
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
March 10, 2007 - It is the first week of March in northeast Oklahoma and I received a wildflower mix that is 60% Lupinus texensis or Texas bluebonnets. Should I wait until fall to plant or can I cold treat or do som...
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