Moderate displays of early wildflowers expected
By JAMIE STENGLE
DALLAS — The wildflower showing across much of Texas isn’t expected to be spectacular in the early spring, but there could be a rebound before summer.
Damon Waitt, senior director of the University of Texas at Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, said Wednesday that drier than normal conditions since the fall mean early wildflowers won’t be as hardy in many areas in Texas. But he says intermittent rains since last month will help those plants and boost blooms in late spring and early summer.
“This past fall we did not have great rainfall around the state. … That doesn’t bode well for the early spring wildflowers like bluebonnets, phlox and Indian paintbrush,” Waitt said. “Now we got some pretty decent winter rains around the state, which is very beneficial for what did survive the fall and germination, so there will be bluebonnets and there will be wildflowers, probably just not as abundant as last year and maybe a little more diminutive in size.”
Late spring and early summer blooms include Indian blanket and horsemint. “We should have a really nice late spring, early summer display,” he said.
Areas with abundant bluebonnets — the state flower of Texas — often attract people posing among the bright blue blossoms. Waitt said that there will be bluebonnets in Texas this year, but “maybe just less bountiful.”
“They’ll still be out there, they may just be a little harder to find,” Waitt said.
Waitt said that last year’s bountiful wildflower display was the result of rainfall coming at just the right time in the fall and winter despite a drought. He added that seeds left in the soil from last year’s abundant wildflower season could boost this year’s late spring-early summer show of wildflowers.
Also, parts of San Antonio and cities including Del Rio experienced average rainfalls late last year that will help wildflowers this spring. Perennial wildflowers including winecup and pink evening primrose should fare better than bluebonnets and other single-season flowers because they depend less on fall rain.
Judith Jones, vice president of the Amarillo chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas, said she’s hoping for a good display of wildflowers when the group hosts a wildflower workshop in early May at the Palo Duro Canyon in the Panhandle.
A favorite of hers is the basket-flower, which can grow up to 5 feet tall and features a pink-purple bloom. “The basket-flower will stop you in your tracks,” she said.
Wildflowers already blooming in Central Texas include baby blue eyes, giant spiderwort and prairie verbena in eastern Travis County. Bluebonnet rosettes are growing along roadways in Brenham and the state flower can also be seen near Marble Falls.
Carolina jessamine has been spotted in Houston and spring cress and windflower can be seen in nearby Kingwood.
And Waitt notes that people seeking out particular wildflowers can always visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where flowers are helped along with irrigation.
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