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Mr. Smarty Plants - Survivability of Texas wildflower seeds in Zone 5A or 5B

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Friday - October 13, 2006

From: Hubbardston, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Survivability of Texas wildflower seeds in Zone 5A or 5B
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What are the recommended hardiness zones for Texas wildflowers? Could these seeds survive in a 5A and 5B climate? If so, when would be the correct time to plant seeds for zone 5A/5B?

ANSWER:

The majority of Texas lies in USDA Hardiness Zones 7-11, with only the northern part of the Panhandle region in zone 6. It will depend on the wildflower, of course, but Texas wildflower seeds that were produced from plants growing in Texas are most likely adapted to Hardiness Zones 8 or higher. Additionally, cold hardiness is not the only consideration for ensuring successful plants. Soil composition, day length, and other climatic conditions (such as the range of humidity and the prolonged summer heat) are important in determining when and if seeds will germinate and if the plants will thrive. Even with wildflowers that have a wide distribution such as Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) seeds from plants grown in Texas are not likely to do as well in Massachusetts as seeds from plants that grew in Massachusetts. Natural selection will have favored more cold hardy plants from the Massachusetts seeds than from the Texas seeds. Certainly, Texas's most famous wildflower, the Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) is likely to grow poorly, if at all, in Massachusetts. The Northeast has some beautiful wildflowers of its own that are adapted to the soil, the cold and other climatic conditions of the region. Your best bet for beautiful wildflowers next spring and summer is to plant those native to your region.

The best time to plant wildflower seeds in any area is when they are planted by nature itself. For most wildflowers this occurs late summer through late fall. Many seeds need a period of cold to break their dormancy so that the spring warmth and rains instigate germination. Some seeds will germinate and grow if planted in the spring rather than the fall, but usually they come up several weeks later than those that were planted in the fall.

 

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