Wildflower Center in Full Bloom,
Anticipating Summer Show
Spotty sightings of Texas bluebonnets and other spring bloomers have been the norm this spring, with April rain hoped for to save the late spring and early summer season, said the senior botanist at The University of Texas at Austin's Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
"Almost everyone I've talked to is reporting small patches of bluebonnets with plants that are smaller than normal," said Damon Waitt. "Lack of fall rain which effects germination and lack of spring rain which effects plant growth is a double whammy for this year's bluebonnets."
Nearly one third of the state is in an extreme drought, with the culprit thought to be a La Niña weather pattern that has hung around longer than normal. East and West Texas have been hit hardest. The Texas Hill Country is relatively empty of wildflower blooms, and Wildflower Center conservationists have also found only sparse showings out west of bluebonnets, Engelmann daisy and Indian paintbrush. Near Caddo Lake, the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush are also faring poorly, with native dogwoods among the few touches of floral color.
Some regions have had more rain and better shows, such as parts of North Texas and the Gulf Coast around Corpus Christi. Stretches of bluebonnets are doing well in Dallas along Interstate 635 and near the International Airport, and along West University Drive in Denton. And blankets of Texas vervain have been spotted in Ingleside-on-the-Bay, as have abundant squarebud daisies, Indian blanket, Drummond phlox and other wildflowers. Among the good sightings elsewhere have been stands of pink evening primrose along Wells Branch Parkway in North Austin, large stands of those and bluebonnets between Luling and Harding east of the 183/I-10 intersection, and on private land along FM 390 between Burton and Highway 105.
If your county is drought-ridden, consider visiting places like the Wildflower Center to get your wildflower fix. "Our native plant gardens are exploding with color this spring," Waitt said, noting that Wildflower Center bluebonnets will be showy for several more weeks.
The center's bluebonnets can be viewed at www.wildflower.org/bbcam, and have been joined by pink evening primrose, prairie verbena, and damianita, among others. By mid-April, some of the 100-plus flowering native plants that will bloom on site include Gregg's salvia, mealy blue sage, Texas betony and square-bud primrose.
A little spring rain could fuel a decent show of summer wildflowers. Waitt noted that wildflowers that bloom in summer months are more drought-tolerant than their spring-blooming cousins. They include many in the sunflower family, such as purple coneflower, Indian blanket, Mexican hat and black-eyed Susan.
To learn more about wildflowers nationally, search the Wildflower Center's Native Plant Information Network. To purchase seeds to sow of mid- to late bloomers or potted native plants.