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
1 rating

Friday - April 27, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Why did my Prairie Flax plant die in Austin, TX?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


Hello, We planted 4 prairie flax last fall in garden. They were all growing nicely until last month when I found that one of them has completely dried up and died. The plants are planted together and the other three seem to be thriving. What could've have caused one of them to dry up and die? We have had a lot of rain this winter and I don't believe it is due to lack of water. Thanks,


 Prairie Flax Linum lewisii (Wild blue flax), also known as Lewis Flax,  is an attractive plant with delicate blue flowers, and is distributed across Canada and the western 2/3 of the US. This site for University of Utah Cooperative Extension describes it as an annual or short-lived perennial, and attributes the name Lewis Flax as a tribute to Capt. Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Its hard to determine why an individual plant dies, even when one is there to view the remains. Was there any sign of insects, or fungus, or a larger varmint e.g. a cat, squirrel or dog?

According to the NPIN Plant Profile, the plant grows best under these conditions:
Growing Conditions
Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Sand

You mention water; plants can die from overwatering as well as under watering.  A combination of poorly draining soil and the winter rains may have done your Prairie Flax in. Be sure not to overwater your remaining plants. Here’s a link with some tips about watering your plants.


From the Image Gallery

Wild blue flax
Linum lewisii

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Source for book on Mimosa pudica from West Palm Beach FL
September 07, 2012 - Where can I find the TickleMe Plant Book -the guide for growing the sensitive plant mimosa pudica seeds?This is the plant that plays dead when touched.
view the full question and answer

Why does newly transplanted Brazos Penstemon look bad
June 09, 2015 - I bought Brazos penstemon from a nursery as well as several other drought resistant plants. I have noticed new buds on the salvia and blanket flower and changes in leaf color on the kaleidoscope, but...
view the full question and answer

Source for two violas for Houston
July 10, 2013 - I live in Houston, TX. Can you tell me where I can buy viola rotundifolia and viola cucullata? I understand these are round-leaved yellow violet and marsh blue violet respectively. I stumbled on these...
view the full question and answer

Spriranthes sp. blooming on rocky hilltop
November 13, 2015 - I am not sure if my previous question went thru, so I am submitting it again. How unusual is it to find a few blooming specimens of Spiranthes sp. on a rocky hilltop west of Loop 360 near Bee Caves R...
view the full question and answer

Drought and pollution resistant flowers for Rock Falls, IL
February 08, 2009 - I am looking for hearty flowers for our city planters that are both resistant to drought and auto emissions. We are located in northern Illinois. Planting is done in May.
view the full question and answer

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