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Mr. Smarty Plants - Wildflower garden for Driftwood, TX

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Tuesday - August 20, 2013

From: Driftwood, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Meadow Gardens, Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: Wildflower garden for Driftwood, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I would like to plant wildflowers in a fairly large field on a slope. The slope is a little rocky and is located in Driftwood, TX. I have been thinking about a mixture of Bluebonnets and Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) so that first blue will blanket the slope and then red. Is this viable? If so, is there anything special I must do to prepare the seeds before sowing? Since the field is large, can I sow by putting the seeds in a fertilizer dispenser? Is fall sowing appropriate for both seeds?

ANSWER:

Basically, what you are asking for is a Meadow Garden, so let's begin by referring you to our How-To Article on Large Scale Wildflower Gardening, which has several suggestions for wildflower seed dispersal. Next, go to our How-To Article on How To Grow Bluebonnets and then to our article on Meadow Gardening.

Now, we will go to the two specific plants you have asked about: Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) and Gaillardia pulchella (Firewheel). To make your plan work, you need to know the growing conditons and bloom time of each plant. From our webpage on each plant:

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet)

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Limestone/chalky, Sandy Loam, Limestone-based, Calcareous, Sandy, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche
Conditions Comments: Not only does the state flower of Texas bloom oceans of blue, but this famous wildflower forms attractive rosettes in winter. This is the species often used by highway departments and garden clubs. If planting this species in areas where it has not formerly grown, it may be helpful to inoculate the soil with a rhizobium (soil-borne bacteria which form nitrogen-rich root nodules) for lupines." Blooms white, blue March to May.

Propagation: "Propagate by sowing seed or planting seedlings in fall."

Gaillardia pulchella (Firewheel)

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Sandy or calcareous soils, often disturbed places, mostly in grasslands or open places.
Conditions Comments: Indian blanket is a major wildflower of the prairies and meadows. It reseeds readily and is easy to grow; good drainage is the only requirement. Rich soils will produce large, floppy plants with few flowers. Indian blanket is very easy to grow and is commonly used in roadside & meadow plantings. This species is a short-lived perennial in warm, coastal areas. The bloom period can be prolonged by deadheading and supplemental summer watering."  Blooms red, yellow,  brown May through August.

Propagation: "Plant in the fall and rake the seed into loose topsoil to ensure good seed/soil contact. With moisture from rain or watering, G. pulchella will germinate in 1 – 2 weeks and establish a healthy taproot system before the winter frost. If sowing seed indoors in late winter, allow 8 weeks for well-rooted seedling before transplanting at start of frost-free period."

Follow the plant link for either plant to our webpage to get all our information on it.

These plants are both annuals, so being sure they have had an opportunity to bloom and seed before any mowing is done is important. As you can see, they appear to be compatible as far as soils and climate, so we have high hopes for your Meadow Garden.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Firewheel
Gaillardia pulchella

Firewheel
Gaillardia pulchella

Firewheel
Gaillardia pulchella

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