the show

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Tour

air date: April 27, 2013

Need ideas for spaces and native plant combinations? Pick up clever ideas, big and small, with Andrea DeLong-Amaya’s preview of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s Gardens on Tour.  On CTG’s tour, get a closer look at a native habitat within biking distance of downtown. Daphne explains why wildflowers were spotty this spring. Her pick of the week is native Engelmann’s daisy that multi-tasks with flowers for insects and seeds for goldfinches. John Dromgoole picks essential tools for new gardeners.

Question of the Week

Why are wildflowers sparse this spring?

The reason is our lack of fall and winter rain.  Spring-flowering wildflowers release their seeds in summer, then, ideally, those seeds sprout with the onset of rain in the fall.

But when we don’t get any rain in the fall, the seeds are still there, in the soil, and will wait for better conditions to sprout.

In fact, bluebonnets have a hard seed coat, which doesn’t break down easily, thus ensuring that the seed only germinates when the environment is most likely to be ideal for the new seedling.

As we talked about earlier this year regarding bluebonnets, if you have wildflowers in your landscape, you’re subject to the same rules of nature, but you’re also more able to manipulate your environment.  So if your wildflowers are a bit sparse this year, you’ll need to remember to watch the weather next fall and winter, and water if we aren’t getting any rain.

If you want to plant any new spring-blooming wildflowers, remember, the time to scatter seed is late summer into early fall, not the spring.

But it’s not too late to plant transplants of coreopis, blanket flower, columbine and blackfoot daisy.  If you don’t have a spot for them, try some in containers.  Just be sure to use a well-drained, porous potting mix, and not too large a container.  Our wildflowers traditionally grow in shallow, even rocky soils, so they will not thrive in very deep containers, full of rich soil.  If you don’t plant in taller containers, just be sure not to overwater, since the soil below the root zone will stay wet and will encourage rot.

Watch more Question of the Week videos on YouTube →

Plant of the Week

Engelmann’s Daisy

Engelmann’s Daisy

Engelmannia Peristenia

This delicate-looking little Central Texas native is actually quite tough. It will bloom its little head off with very little supplemental irrigation, even through the driest of times. Although, in the intense heat and bright sun of a typical Central Texas summer, the leaves and blooms DO fold in on themselves and look a little wilted. This is just a protective measure, for the plant to shade itself a little bit. Engelmann's daisy can be found in both the Edwards Plateau and Blackland Prairie regions of Central Texas, so it tolerates a wide variety of soil types. But if you have heavy clay soil and you overwater or we get a lot of rain, this plant will struggle and may not survive. Engelmann's daisy stays pretty small, only getting about 2' tall and wide. It needs to be planted in the full sun, but can accept some shade during the day. Engelmann's daisy will be covered in blooms from spring through summer, then will slow down a bit. But if you're industrious enough to give it a little haircut in late summer, it will bloom again quite nicely through fall. Since there will be so many spent flowers, it would be virtually impossible to deadhead this plant, so simply shear it back all around, the way you might if you were shaping a much larger shrub. Beneficial insects love its nectar and small birds will dine on the later seeds if you don't cut off all the flowers. BUT, it is not deer or bunny resistant.