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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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Wednesday - May 30, 2012

From: Rosenberg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Wildflowers
Title: When can native wildflower mix seeds be planted from Rosenberg TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I received a package of "All Native Wildflower Mix". The package says plant in Spring. Is too late to plant now or should I wait for next March?

ANSWER:

If the package says "Plant in Spring" it may be a native wildflower seed mix, but it is NOT native to Texas. If you lived in a colder part of the country, planting in Spring, when the ground has thawed, would be appropriate. In warmer climates, we recommend planting seeds at approximately the same time that Nature drops them in the ground, which is Fall. It is too late to plant now, or maybe not late enough. This wildflower season has been spectacular because we got Winter rains, which permitted the seeds already in the ground to begin germinating. Whether the rains continue or not, the heat of a Texas Summer is not the time to be planting anything.

If the seed packaging has a list of the plants, you could search for them on our Native Plant Database, which includes plants native to North America. You can search on that database on either the common name or the scientific name. If there is no list, you might want to reconsider whether to plant them at all. One of the ways invasive plants are introduced into areas is through contaminated seed mixes; contaminated in the sense that they have seeds that are not native to an area. The best that could happen would be that some of the seeds are tolerant of local growing conditions and grow up into useful plants. A neutral result would be that nothing sprouted at all, which could be a consequence of how old the seeds are. And the worst result would be the sprouting of seeds that could take over your garden and crowd out the plants you wanted to keep.

Many wildflower seeds are very tiny and not easily identifiable. If there is a list, you can go to our webpage on each plant, and learn where it is native, how and when to propagate it and see pictures of the mature plant. For example, suppose one seed on the list is Gaillardia pulchella (Firewheel). Following that link to the webpage, you would learn that it is an annual, grows one to two feet tall, blooms red, yellow and brown from May to August, is native to Texas, and grows in sun or part shade. Under Propagation you see that it is propagated by seeds planted in Fall.

If you would just like to experiment, you might go ahead and plant the seeds in about October, and just see what comes up. If something comes up that you either can't identify or don't like, don't let it go to seed.

 

From the Image Gallery


Indian blanket
Gaillardia pulchella

Indian blanket
Gaillardia pulchella

Indian blanket
Gaillardia pulchella

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