Wild About Texas – October, 2007
Drought and wildflower blooms
Most of the state has been experiencing significant drought over the last few months and many are wondering how this will affect the wildflower displays this season.
Late summer, fall and into winter is when the seeds of many spring-blooming annuals germinate. With the lack of rainfall over this time period, germination has been sparse. Normally, the resulting seedlings grow minimal above-ground foliage over the winter while focusing their energies on root growth. Prolonged winter droughts result in plants with smaller-than-normal roots which then produce smaller plants.
Perennial species generally have been slow to emerge from dormancy this year as a result of sparse rainfall. As they flush out, some perennials will remain stunted this year unless substantial and repeat rainfalls come to the rescue.
Rains since the end of March have begun to quench the thirst of large portions of Texas. Areas that receive enough moisture will predictably enjoy better wildflower stands, particularly the later-blooming species. Summer and fall-blooming annuals still have time to germinate in response to recent showers, although it may be too late for early spring annuals to amount to much. If rains continue, some of our spring annuals may perk up enough still to make a respectable showing.
Since we have the means to irrigate our gardens at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, bluebonnets and other spring wildflowers are looking wonderful right now. Please come by for a visit to get your bluebonnet photos and enjoy many other species of wildflowers, and join us for our Spring Gardening Festival and Plant Sale, April 8-9.
Here is what you can expect to see blooming during given months in natural areas as well as in our gardens. The northern parts of the state may experience slightly later shows, while the southern regions may be somewhat earlier:
(late) March: Bluebonnets, columbines, Indian paintbrush, giant spiderwort, four nerve daisy, autumn sage
April: Coral yucca, winecups, Texas lantana, penstemon, blackfoot daisy, Indian blanket
May: Standing cypress, Mexican hat, black-eyed Susan, twist-leaf yucca, horsemint, Texas butterfly weed
To view a list of wildflower sightings or post your own, go to Lone Star Internet. The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) provides two more excellent resources during the peak wildflower season. As soon as sightings start to roll in, the TXDOT Travel Information line becomes the “Wildflower Hotline,” providing the latest scoop on where to see the most colorful flowers. Call toll free (800) 452-9292. Wildflower sightings are also posted on their website – click here to view.
For more information about Texas native wildflowers and our Spring Gardening Festival and Plant Sale, visit the Wildflower Center’s website at: www.wildflower.org.
About the author: Andrea DeLong-Amaya is the Director of Horticulture at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin.