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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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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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Thursday - May 12, 2005

From: Bellville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: When to mow bluebonnets
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have approx. 2 acres on the side and front of my house in Austin County. When can I mow the remaining high grass and not disturb the natural renewal? Also, I plan to purchase more bluebonnet seed and other wildflower seed that may be appropriate for this spot. The flowers were too sparse this year (my first season here). There is a gradual slope (15) and sandy soil, but at the very front where the road is, it doesn't dry out too well. My main goal is bluebonnets, but I also would like some yellow flowers, etc. When do you plant, and can I broadcast with my garden tractor?

ANSWER:

You need to wait to mow the grasses and flowers you want to preserve until at least 1/2 of the seeds have set and dropped. Visit the Native Plant Library on our web page to see several articles that will help you in your project; for instance, "Wildflower Meadow Gardening" and "Large Scale Wildflower Planting". These are 1- or 2-page PDF formatted articles that you can download. Both have very useful information for your project. Fall is probably the best time to sow native seeds and the best way to sow the seeds is with a hand-held mechanical seeder. However, nothing says you can't ride on your garden tractor while doing the seeding with your hand-held mechanical seeder. Finally, you can find sources for seeds of native plants in Texas by visiting the Suppliers Directory and selecting "Seed Companies" and then choosing "Texas" for "State or Province". In Texas. both Native American Seed in Junction and Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg have large number of varieties of native wildflower seeds and grasses for sale over the internet.
 

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