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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - October 14, 2014

From: Abilene, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Planting, Wildflowers
Title: Fall Flower Planting in Abilene, TX
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Are there any flowers that can be planted in the fall in Abilene Texas?

ANSWER:

   Certainly, almost all of them!  However, where this answer goes after that depends on what you mean by “plant” and whether you also want them to survive the winter.  That makes it quite a bit tougher.

  The easy answer is when “plant” means sow the seeds.  Most wildflowers drop their seeds in the summer to fall, so that they can germinate and be ready to go as soon as there is a decent sign of spring.  The Wildflower Center keeps a “Recommended Species” list for Abilene. This list is for the “Rolling Plains” Ecoregion. I sorted the recommended species list to “Herbs” [wildflowers], and then reduced that to ones that bloom in the last quarter of the year. In reading the records for the plants - Solidago altissima (Tall goldenrod), Penstemon ambiguus (Pink plains penstemon), Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower), and Abronia ameliae (Amelia's sand verbena)  had recommendations for fall sown seed

  My second variation on “plant” is to transplant small plants.  Our own Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is already sprouted and will live through the winter as a small, low-to-the –ground plant.  Here is a “Mr Smarty Plants” question/answer pair on this topic.  Another plant where transplanning small plants in the fall is recommended is Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena)
Transplanting bluebonnets
 
Hearty, bushy native plants for windowboxes in Abilene, TX

  My final version of “plant” is the one I consider the least likely to succeed.  This is to transplant full grown plants. For this approach, I have sorted the recommended species list to “Herbs” [wildflowers], and then reduced that to ones that bloom in the last quarter of the year.  This left 41 candidates, I list a half dozen annual and perennial members of that list below.

Annual:  Argemone polyanthemos (Annual pricklepoppy), Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena), Heliotropium tenellum (Pasture heliotrope), Palafoxia rosea (Rosy palafox), Symphyotrichum subulatum (Baby's breath aster),

Perennial:  Berlandiera lyrata (Chocolate daisy), Bouchea linifolia (Flaxleaf bouchea), Calylophus hartwegii (Hartweg's sundrops), Gutierrezia sarothrae (Broom snakeweed), Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian sunflower), Liatris mucronata (Cusp gayfeather)

Although I consider this approach the least likely to succeed, these are still the plants that would most likely be seeding in the 4th quarter of the year and are quite likely to succeed when propagated in that manner,

 

From the Image Gallery


Tall goldenrod
Solidago altissima

Pink plains penstemon
Penstemon ambiguus

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Amelia's sand-verbena
Abronia ameliae

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Prairie verbena
Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Annual pricklepoppy
Argemone polyanthemos

Pasture heliotrope
Heliotropium tenellum

Rosy palafox
Palafoxia rosea

Eastern annual saltmarsh aster
Symphyotrichum subulatum

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