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?

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
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

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 Herbs/Forbs Questions

Native replacement for Mexican heather in Llano, TX
April 24, 2009 - Please suggest a native or adaptable alternative plant for Mexican Heather.
view the full question and answer

Trimming of Pineapple Sage and Salvia Greggii
October 07, 2007 - I live in Central Austin. My question is: When is the best time to trim back Pineapple Sage and Salvia Gregii? How far back should these plants be trimmed?
view the full question and answer

Making a pollinator garden
August 11, 2014 - Hello, I have a ditch right by my house and I want to turn it into a pollinator garden using native plants. My problem is, right now it's so full of weeds that we have to mow those down so soon. For ...
view the full question and answer

Short, Shady Plants for South Carolina
February 24, 2015 - I have a shady part of my mother's garden that doesn't drain very well. Do you have any suggestions as to what type of flowers or plants (preferably native to S.C.) that aren't red that might grow ...
view the full question and answer

Perennial for cemetery plot in Massachusetts
August 03, 2010 - What perennial would work well in a cemetery plot that has very dry sun?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center