Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - January 15, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Is Annual Rye Choking Out Wildflowers in Austin?
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

We live about 3 miles from the wildflower center on 3 acres and there is a natural area on our property that gets a lot of wildflowers. Last winter we threw out annual rye seed to have some greenery during the winter (big mistake!). By the time last spring came, we still had a lot of tall grass and I told my husband we should weed eat it down one more time, but we didn't, and I think the tall grass choked out the wildflowers, as we had half as many. We didn't put out grass seed this year but I was wondering how we should maintain this area. or should we just let it be? There are native grasses growing there and as of now they are dormant but when spring comes I am unsure if we should trim down any grasses or not. Please help. Thank you

ANSWER:

First of all, don't beat yourself up too badly about the rye being to blame for your lack of wildflowers. Do, however, beat yourself enough so that you don't do it again. Mr. Smarty Plants only condones native plants.

Even with the great year for wildflowers we have experienced here in central Texas, some spots didn't have as many flowers as in previous years. Why? Who knows. Probably there are seeds sitting dormant in your area that just didn't get the word to come up this year. They may decide to come up this spring - or not.

As for this year, I'd recommend you go ahead and trim the dormant grass right now before the spring growth starts. Pretend you are a herd of buffalo munching it down close to the ground. That's what happened on the native prairies where these grasses originally grew. That may, or may not help the flowers, but at least it will get rid of the dead grass material so that the spring growth will show up well.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures to replace what you missed this year:


Lupinus texensis


Gaillardia pulchella


Engelmannia peristenia

 

 

More Wildflowers Questions

More on bluebonnets
April 19, 2007 - I am a displaced Austinite - As of last week now living in upstate New York (Binghamton). As I was leaving town - a friend presented me with a pound bag of bluebonnet seeds. A thoughtful gift - but I...
view the full question and answer

Visiting Texas for bluebonnets
December 29, 2004 - I know rainfall amounts in the winter affect the blooming of bluebonnets in the spring. I am thinking about visiting Texas this spring. What should I be looking for in rainfall amounts? I will watch...
view the full question and answer

Best planting time for wildflower seeds in Austin, TX
February 13, 2007 - When would be the best time to plant wild flower seeds and mow an area where we want to grow wild flowers in Austin Texas?
view the full question and answer

Frostweed under oaks
September 29, 2007 - Our 5 acre property is located about 12 miles West of Salado on FM 2843. Under our beautiful Live Oak trees reside some plants that are just coming into bloom (9/29/07). They are about 3-4 ft high wit...
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
January 09, 2007 - I have had an area in my yard where I have established bluebonnets. Since we had such a dismal showing in the spring of 2006 I was looking forward to a great show for 2007. Lo and behold I had about...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.