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
2 ratings

Wednesday - August 16, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Cutting back annual wildflowers after going to seed
Answered by: Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

I purchased some wildflower seeds from the center last year, planted them in Nov-Dec and they have done fairly well this year despite our fairly dry winter. My question is now that they are done blooming and have been dried up for about a month now, do I cut them back to the ground or just let them "do their own thing naturally?" They are in a bed with some other plants so I would like to clean them up IF that will not hurt next year's growth. Do I need to fertilize them at any time also?

ANSWER:

If the flowers have already gone to seed or still have dried seeds on them, it is perfectly safe to cut them back to the ground. After you cut off the tops, shake out remaining attached seeds into areas you'd like them to come up in next year. This is especially important for any annuals you may have, as they will only return next year from seed. For more detailed and species-specific information, see our Native Plant Library's “Wildflower Meadow Gardening” information file.

As for fertilization, a good layer of compost may help but may not be necessary if your soil is already healthy. Keep in mind when applying any sort of top dressing that many wildflower seeds have specific depth preferences and too thick a layer may inhibit germination.
 

More Wildflowers Questions

When and where are the bluebonnets blooming from Canyon TX?
March 18, 2012 - Where can we get reports on when and where the bluebonnets are blooming?
view the full question and answer

When will the bluebonnets appear this year?
February 04, 2016 - When will the bluebonnets appear this year? We have many friends and family who want to visit when they are in bloom. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Transplanting bluebonnets in late Fall from Georgetown TX
November 08, 2013 - Transplanting bluebonnets in October? Neighbor wants to share abundance of rosettes and good size plants- any suggestions or warnings? Will freeze/frost protection be needed if we get December freeze...
view the full question and answer

Getting started in gardening
September 16, 2006 - Does the center publish any or several planting guides to help gardeners get started? I find it is overwhelming understanding where to start. I have some lake property in East Texas close to Athen...
view the full question and answer

Zexmenia in upstate NY
March 13, 2011 - Will zexmenia survive in upstate New York (Albany)?
view the full question and answer

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