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Posts tagged ‘wildflowers’

Drummond’s Phlox

This lovely little annual phlox has bloomed in my garden from November until April. It is not as showy as the big garden phlox like Phlox paniculata, but I love how little I need to take care of it and how it blooms when not much else is. I’ve often seen it for sale in nurseries in the fall along with other annuals like snapdragons and alyssum, but it’s just as easy to grow from seed and will bloom in fall if you start early enough. (The seed germinates in about 3-5 days if you keep it moist, and often flowers about 7 weeks after sowing.) Read more

White Aster

February 2009. I was greeted by this flower last fall, nearly five years after living in our house. I had never noticed it before, but this year was full of surprises, in the middle of a drought no less.

A whole ribbon of these appeared on a very shady fenceline near our dog run. Not the prettiest place in the world, but where better to surprise me with Texas wildflowers? I absolutely adore daisies, and so one can imagine I was delighted to have some effortless ones suddenly appear. Read more


The state flower of Texas, and the glory of the spring. No roadside or edge of a ranch, or even small garden like mine feels complete without them. Bluebonnets are diminutive lupines, but look stunning in mass. While they’re the essence of meadow in Texas, they’re also very pretty in carefully arranged garden beds.

Bluebonnets are sown in fall, and occasionally you can find them as nursery-grown annuals, but the seed is so widely available and easy to sow, that it’s worth it to always try some every year. Read more

Purple coneflower

This flower needs no introduction. During my first-ever gardening escapade, I sowed Texas wildflower seeds all over my bare back yard (in January!), and native Purple Coneflower was among them. They never came up but the next year I sowed the seeds in a prepared bed in fall. By spring it seemed like hundreds came up. I discarded many and potted many others, giving some away to friends that summer. Read more

Purple Passionflower

Do I love, love, love this vine. And I am so proud that something this ridiculously showy could be native to Texas. It has proven to me that wildflowers don’t have to be rustic (and I do like rustic).

After my failures with the Passionflower ‘Incense’, which was repeatedly chomped on by caterpillars, I decided to try another type. This is definitely the more frequently-grown kind, and the showier. Passionflower incense–i.e., passiflora edulis–has smaller leaves, and smaller flowers which are pale purple whose petals sort of fly backwards, rather than splay out. Passionflower incarnata, however, takes over with just a little bit of sunshine.

Seriously, I did not water this plant for 3 months of its first summer, other than the first week it was planted. And did it grow, covering about a 25-foot long fence and starting to climb up our barn. I’m hoping beyond hope that it doesn’t turn into another aggressive vine like trumpet vines, which I’m desperately trying to get rid of and yes, have resorted now to chemical warfare, since the roots go down at least 2 feet and despite Pilates and all my Detroit strength, cannot get down there.

However, I don’t think I’d mind as much if this popped up somewhere else. It it just too pretty to miss, and its effortless care makes one feel rewarded for all the work of keeping things alive in Texas.

And do butterflies love it, and bees, and anything that flies, really. It’s a banquet feast. And for whatever reason, it appears only one or two leaves here and there got eaten… I did see a few Gulf Fritillaries around it but maybe they were lured off to my Passiflora Incense to lay their eggs (which as I write has 2 leaves on it… is still alive, so maybe I’ll keep it on as bait!)

Scarlet Sage

This native Texas plant came up in an area that I sowed various wildflowers, to see what would happen. It is a fairly shady area, and these were the only flowers that seem to like this kind of shade and moistness. I didn’t do much to the soil, and many flowers sulked at the clay they were thrown in but not this flower.

Update: November 12, 2008. I sowed these indoors of December 2007, and most were up and nearly outgrowing their 4-inch pots by February and by March they were blooming. They are very easy to germinate so I’d suggest if you do sow them indoors, do so a little later in the winter, since they grow fast and are tender to frost. I planted them anyway in March and they bloomed and grew in my front shade bed like crazy.

By the end of the summer Scarlet Sage can look a little ratty and formless but my patch of them was still blooming last week when I pulled them all out to re-do the bed. I still think these behave more like annuals in Austin, because I have yet to see them return in spring but perhaps I haven’t given them a chance as I tend to change my beds around in spring quite a bit. (Mealy blue sage, Salvia farinacea, has suffered the same problem in my hands; after looking scraggly in late fall, I tend to pull them all out.)

Nevertheless, Scarlet Sage blooms happily and fully in full shade all summer long. And that’s a very very rare plant. Having a garden that is almost 80 percent shade with trees and buildings around me, I am constantly having to replace ‘full sun’ plants with something a little more forgiving.

Indian Blanket

Along with bluebonnets, these are the most common flowers along Texas highways and also super easy to start from seed. As I write, in May 2007, the highways are covered with a red and gold blanket. Like most wildflowers, I think these look best en masse. My little wildflower experiments have left me with occasional Indian Blankets here and there and just look weird on their own. They can get quite tall, too, which I didn’t realize until a group of these in one of my beds were almost 3 feet tall before they started forming buds. The tallest is almost 4 feet, up to my chest. I know there are other cultivated varieties of this that are tall and dwarf varieties, but as far as I know, I planted the native Texas seed from Native American Seed.

I just really love them, though. They look tough and they also signal the coming of summer. Whereas in March and April, the cool fields of bluebonnets have the center stage, they are gradually replaced by the warmer tone of Indian Blankets. Rarely have I seen them together except this year for a few short weeks in April they were side by side. Mine, however, didn’t bloom until May, although some started appearing in Austin in early April.

Pink Evening Primrose

May 3, 2007. These lovely little pink flowers are quickly becoming my favorite of the Texas wildflowers. I’m partial to simple cupped flowers–winecups or California poppies–and like they way they just drape in the wind. These primroses first started appearing in early April on roadsides and margins of gardens. They blanket whole areas and seem to make for a good groundcover. Some seem taller than others, some grow in full sun, others under the slight shade of a tree, but for such delicate flowers they appear to be sturdy. It has been said that these are the favorite of Lady Bird Johnson, and it’s no wonder. They are wild but elegant. Read more

Blue-eyed grass

I bought a few pots of this “grass” from a small local nursery, and within a week started seeing it everywhere… including the Wildflower Center, where its baby iris-like flowers unassumingly dot the edges of the center’s landscape. From a distance it looks like buffalograss, but up close is a little elegant world.

I looked it up but discovered there are many varieties of it that are native to the U.S. The plants I bought aren’t as scratchy looking as the Wildflower Center’s, but more of a bluish-green grass. Read more