Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Thursday - August 10, 2006

From: Phenix , AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Overseeding native wildflower seeds as opposed to herbicides
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Greetings from Alabama, We would like to "roundup" approx 2 A and plant some wildflower (s) that would TAKE OVER. We have 20 A and over half is in mixed woods. Pine, oak, sweetgum, and ???. Do you have any suggestions? Are there any wildflowers that will return if we use pre-emergence fertilizer?

ANSWER:

You may have a misperception about the way nature works. Plants fill niches that provide both the opportunity and the conditions for success. The large-scale use of herbicides typically result in successful growth of what we generally consider to be weedy, undesirable species and less succesful development of more desirable wildflowers.

You asked about two different types of herbicides. Roundup is the tradename of an herbicide containing the active ingredient glyphosate. It is a contact herbicide which works on green, growing plants. Pre-emergent herbicides prevent germinating seeds from growing. Whether you use either, both or none of these herbicides will largely depend on what you are trying to control and what stage of growth it's in. Often it is possible to obtain the desired results without using any herbicides at all. The application of herbicides often results in disturbed conditions similar to tilling which provide the perfect conditions for most of the noxious weeds you will encounter.

It is often better to overseed with desirable wildflower species to provide the best opportunity for them to become established. A wildflower seed mix designed for your area will contain some species that will successfully become established - sometimes spectacularly so - others that will be less successful and a few that will fail completely. However, by overseeding you are far less likely to create a two-acre haven for cocklebur, beggarticks or rattlepod.

The article Wildflower Meadows can be found in the NPIN Native Plant Library.

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Milkweed Seedlings Source for Austin, Texas
March 18, 2013 - Where can I find seedlings or four inch pots of common milkweed? I have a backyard garden that is mostly filtered sunlight and space for them.
view the full question and answer

Wildflower planting in Northeast Pennsylvania
April 16, 2007 - I live in PA, Northeast, and have high grass that is mostly wet, I was wondering if I could just throw wildflower seeds out into the high grass and if they would grow.
view the full question and answer

Is it illegal in Texas to pick bluebonnets? No.
December 01, 2008 - Is it illegal in Texas to pick a bluebonnet?
view the full question and answer

Hymenocallis caroliniana and Hymenocallis liriosme Differences
October 09, 2013 - A couple of years ago a neighbor gave me three huge bulbs of a type unknown to her. They fit the description of a spider lily. In attempts to identify it I found Hymenocallis liriosme and Hymenocallis...
view the full question and answer

Tidying up Copper Canyon Daisies in San Antonio
March 30, 2010 - We have a small bed with 4 copper canyon daisies. We cut them back in the fall but have not pruned them during growing season; as a result they become a big tangle by September. Should they be pruned ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.