Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - April 10, 2012

From: Spring Branch, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Meadow Gardens, Grasses or Grass-like, Wildflowers
Title: Herbicide use in bluebonnet field in Blanco, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have the best of both worlds and the worst of both worlds. Iíve been throwing bluebonnet seeds for 6 years on our property near Blanco, and when it rains, as it has this year, am starting to establish a very nice spring wildflower display. I also have established buffalo grass mixed in with the wildflowers. However, the weeds are another problemÖ There are products that kill broadleaf weeds and donít harm buffalo grass (Image) but they kill the wildflowers. And there are products that kill grasses but donít harm broadleaf weeds/forbes (wildflowers). But there are no selective products that keep the buffalo grass alive and at the same time, donít harm the wildflowers. Bluebonnets begin to grow their rosettes in November/December. Iím wondering what would happen if I sprayed an herbicide like Image in September, if it would harm the bluebonnet seeds lying on the ground. I know bluebonnets have a tough coating in the wild, and wonder if this coating would protect them from the herbicide? If I sprayed in September, I was thinking the herbicide would kill the weeds, but the bluebonnetís tough coating and fall rains would protect the seeds until they starting growing their rosettes in late Nov/Dec. What do you think about this scheme? I try, but I canít pull weeds on 17 acres. Thank you for your help.

ANSWER:

The word herbicide comes to us from the Latin herba = plant and caedere = to kill. Weeds, unfortunately, don’t come with a clear cut definition, and are sometimes in the eye of the beholder. This brings to mind the aphorism; “One person’s weeds are another person’s wildflowers.” You didn’t mention the kinds of weeds you are battling, so this makes an evaluation of your scheme difficult. I’m not clear what plants you would be spraying in September that would interfere with bluebonnets in the spring. Bluebonnets can begin germinating in October, and the herbicide sprayed in September may have a residual effect on the young seedlings.

I’m going to provide links to three sites that may prove helpful to you. The first is to this aggie-horticulture site that describes bluebonnet cultivation. The second  from our  “How to Articles" also tells about growing bluebonnets. The third selection, A GUIDE TO NATIVE PLANT GARDENING, deals with soil preparation when planting and growing wildflowers.

 

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Possible to grow Inland Sea Oats in Oklahoma?
March 17, 2011 - Would it be possible to grow inland sea oats in Southeast Oklahoma? Is this within the range of this plant? I am asking on behalf of my cousin in OK.
view the full question and answer

Need landscape suggestions for area exposed after last flood on Black Creek in Forrest County. MS
September 18, 2009 - We live on the Black Creek in Mississippi. After the last flood, we now have a steep sandy slope which is unmowable, and incredibly weedy. We want to remove the unsightly weeds- kill if necessary, and...
view the full question and answer

Best way to plant sedges on a slope in Fairfax, VA.
March 20, 2012 - Best way to plant sedges on a slope. WE are in the LONG process of trying to convert our backyard to a native wildlife friendly habitat. The slope is about 30 degress and it's a large space 1/2 acr...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for heavily traveled walkway from Redondo Beach CA
April 23, 2013 - I am looking for a drought resistant ground cover that you can walk on. I live on a south facing, sunny corner lot, 2 blocks from the beach where people park and need to cross over to get to the sidew...
view the full question and answer

Frequency of mowing on native grasses
November 17, 2006 - I live on 5 acres in TX Hill Country. I love the native grasses when they are high and blowing, etc. My husband insists on mowing, claiming that by mowing, the grasses grow more rapidly over the dry...
view the full question and answer

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