September is the time to plan wildflower seed
Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
Q: This is in regard to last month’s comments about crape myrtles. Neil Sperry in his column in the Express-News said not to deadhead, whereas you quoted Doug Welsh who said it would help extend the blooming period. Comment?
A: As we all know, experts can disagree. Both horticulturists have crape myrtle experience, so you can make up your own mind. Without any deadheading or pruning at all most of my crape myrtles bloom all summer.
Q: Is it time to plant wildflower seed for spring bloom?
A: Doug Welsh in his Texas Garden Almanac says that September is the time to plant. Be sure to check the seed packet when you buy to make sure it is this year’s crop. You can also check your local nursery for transplants. Bluebonnets, gaillardia and mealy cup sage can usually be found. Many of our local gardeners have already had bluebonnets come up in their yard. I am sure all of this wonderful August rain has contributed to the sprouting. Welsh says to purchase a wildflower mix that is good for your area. He recommends one-fourth pound of seeds per 500 square feet in order to achieve maximum color. When the seed is planted, it must contact the soil. Till the soil lightly, sprinkle the seed, then tamp the seed down with a roller or your feet. Then water to settle everything. If we have no September rain, water the area lightly once a week. Don’t forget: after spring bloom, leave the plants alone to set seed. They will be ugly and your neighbors will probably complain. Nevertheless, leave them alone till all the flowers die and the seedpods look dry.
When reading over the wildflower section by Doug Welsh, I was surprised to see that Texas has six state flowers that are all bluebonnet species. The one we usually see is Lupinus texensis which is native to Central Texas. I grew up in Florida with L. perennis, a perennial bluebonnet native from Florida to East Texas. I can remember my mother cautioning me to stay away from the plants because rattlesnakes liked to nest under them. When you are growing bluebonnets, plant in full sun, don’t overwater, and don’t fertilize. Six colors of bluebonnets have been isolated and are available to gardeners: blue, white, pink, sky blue, lavender blue, and maroon.
Q: My big box store is getting in their spring-flowering bulbs. Isn’t this just a little early for them to be planted?
A: Yes, it is too early to plant. However, buy them now while they are fresh and firm with no blemishes. Store in the refrigerator. Then plant when the soil cools down, from November to January. Usually we plant these as annuals; however, I have one little snowdrop that comes up and blooms every spring for the past ten years. I don’t even remember planting it. Welsh says that for repeat bloom, some daffodil varieties are more likely to naturalize in Texas. These include narcissus, jonquils, and the medium and large flowered varieties of daffodils. Plant your bulbs about 6 inches deep (two times the height of the bulb). Avoid deep shade and fertilize.
Clara Mae Marcotte is a Texas Master Gardener with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. If you have a question to be answered, call the Master Gardeners at 830-379-1972 or leave a message to be answered. The website is guadalupecountymastergardeners.org. The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, at 210 East Live Oak Street in Seguin.