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
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

QUESTION:

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,

ANSWER:


 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 Wildflowers Questions

Healthy native plants supporting local economy from Tacoma Park MD
February 17, 2012 - I am collecting information on how healthy native plant communities can support the local economy. Do you think the Texas bluebonnets are a good example of this in Texas? For example, do you know ma...
view the full question and answer

Wedding Flowers for Alabama
July 03, 2015 - I am considering planting wildflowers for my wedding in early/middle May of 2016. Could I plant seed this fall and have bloom by late April in time for my May wedding?
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
March 14, 2003 - How did the bluebonnet get its name?
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets and Texas
March 20, 2004 - Can I plant Bluebonnets outside of Texas?
view the full question and answer

Annual flowers for fall planting in San Antonio
June 22, 2010 - What are some recommended annual flowers for fall planting in a small garden in San Antonio? Also any help on planting and cultivating would be appreciated.
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