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Monday - October 20, 2014

From: Helotes, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: Fall Wildflowers for Helotes, TX
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Dear Smarty, Could you please suggest a few colorful wildflowers for a sunny area. I live north of San Antonio, TX and would like to plant some flowers in October but I want something that has been tried and will survive the hot hill country sun and rocky earth. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Mr Smarty Plants just finished a diatribe towards a reader in Abeline for a similar question: "Are there any flowers that can be planted in the fall in Abilene Texas?"  It started out:

   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.

From here on, I’m going to edit the response towards Helotes with the information for your area instead [much of it is the same!].

  The easy hit 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 Helotes area ecoregion. This ecoregion is the “Edwards  Plateau” Ecoregion.  In reading the records for the plants - Solidago altissima (Tall goldenrod), Pectis angustifolia (Limoncillo), and Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower), 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:  Transplanting bluebonnets.  The recommendations for  Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena) also noted that a successful strategy is to transplant small plants in winter.

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] that like full sun and then reduced that to ones that bloom in the last quarter of the year.  This left 28 candidates, I list a half dozen annual and perennial members of this list below.

Annual:  Eriogonum annuum (Annual buckwheat), Euphorbia cyathophora (Wild poinsettia), Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena), Heliotropium tenellum (Pasture heliotrope), Palafoxia callosa (Small palafox), Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan)

Perennial:  Abutilon fruticosum (Indian mallow), Bouchea linifolia (Flaxleaf bouchea), Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian sunflower), Liatris punctata (Dotted blazing star), Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower), Melampodium leucanthum (Blackfoot daisy)

Although I consider this approach the least likely to succeed immediately, 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 planted in that manner.

 

From the Image Gallery


Tall goldenrod
Solidago altissima

Limoncillo
Pectis angustifolia

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Prairie verbena
Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Annual buckwheat
Eriogonum annuum

Wild poinsettia
Euphorbia cyathophora

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Flaxleaf bouchea
Bouchea linifolia

Maximilian sunflower
Helianthus maximiliani

Dotted blazing star
Liatris punctata

Blackfoot daisy
Melampodium leucanthum

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