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
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

Native Plants for a water collection pit in Bronson, FL
August 22, 2013 - I live near Gainesville, FL in a low rural area with many cypress swamps around & bought this 5 acres 2 years ago. About 15 years ago a pit was dug on my 5 acres to give the rainwater somewhere to go...
view the full question and answer

Native Wildflowers and Grasses for Texas Acreage
April 15, 2015 - I recently purchased about 36 acres in Somervell County, Texas where cedar had been bulldozed and burned (many large spots). What would be the best native flowers or grasses to replant in that area? L...
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
March 22, 2004 - My Bluebonnets have taken over my flowerbed. Are there plants that can be planted along with Bluebonnets in a flowerbed?
view the full question and answer

Flowers found blooming in February in Austin
November 17, 2010 - For people visiting from other states, which flowers usually bloom in February in Austin?
view the full question and answer

Best Asclepias for Kansas City
October 06, 2014 - I have a question about the Asclepias. I live in the Midwest, in Kansas City with hardiness zone 5b or 6. I want to know which of these plants would be good for me in a cultivated garden. It's not to...
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