Texas’ Spectacular Spring Wildflowers
[lightbox title=”LightboxTitle” url=”PageURL” width=”900″ height=”500″]Editor’s note: Always on the lookout for Round Top wildflowers, we have seen bluebonnets between Chappell Hill and Brenham…how about you?[/lightbox]
If you live in Texas, you know how spectacular spring can be. If you’re visiting the Roundtopolis from another land, get ready for roadside splendor as our native wildflowers put on a show—if it doesn’t freeze or get too warm….
We chatted with Andrea DeLong-Amaya, director of horticulture at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, to get her expert projections. (In anticipation of a breath-taking show, we’ve also turned to our favorite go-to photo gals, Anna Spencer Morse of Grace Photography and Dixie Ray Hamilton of Dixie Ray Photography, to offer their top tips for capturing the quintessential bluebonnet photograph. Check out their tips here.)
According to DeLong-Amaya temperature can vary even within a small garden, and a Texas bluebonnet near a warm sidewalk that is protected from wind warms up and produces blooms sooner thanthose in colder spots. .
The bottom line is rainfall and temperature affect blooms, so it’s difficult to really predict anything.
RTR: What is the wildflower forecast for the Round Top area (Austin, Bastrop, Burleson, Colorado, Fayette, Lavaca, Lee & Washington counties)?
DL-A: My estimate is that they will have a good show this spring. We recently drove Highway 71 to I-10 from Austin to Galveston. Around Bastrop we saw the start of Indian paintbrush and Indian blankets.
Many places had healthy rains in the fall and early winter, and if that rain trend continues, it could be a spectacular wildflower season for many counties. But, more recently, it turned dry for more than a month , in Bastrop County for instance, which is when rains are needed to keep Texas bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush and other early spring bloomers thriving. If regular, intermittent rains don’t come soon, the early spring wildflowers that survive may have smaller blooms.
In Washington County, light rains at the end of February will help. We have already seen a few scattered blooms earlier than normal at the Wildflower Center: three or four Texas bluebonnets blooming in warmer than usual spots, as well as a few Indian paintbrush, ten-petaled anemones and baby blue eyes in bloom. Around Austin, scattered Texas bluebonnets, golden groundsel and spiderwort are already blooming.
Note that some of these wildflowers in general are blooming earlier than normal. That likely reflects the fact we have had warmer weather than normal over the past month or more. Warmth causes plants to grow; however, there is a danger. If an extended cold snap occurs, which can happen in Central Texas into March or April, the wildflowers and trees that produced buds during the warmer weather could lose those. The good news is cold snaps will rarely damage native wildflowers already putting out buds because they can handle the cold. Only an unusually late and hard freeze will knock back some of their flowers, replaced by others that bloom in their place. Bluebonnets are especially hardy and should handle whatever nature dishes out now. In addition, a cool snap can keep blooms fresh for longer.
RTR: When do you expect peak bluebonnet bloom to occur in this area?
DL-A: Probably around March 24 at 1:35 p.m. Seriously, probably end of March assuming predicted normal precipitation and temps moving forward from now
RTR: What species besides bluebonnets will we see?
DL-A: Engelmann daisy (Engelmannia peristenia), winecup (Callirhoe spp.), mealy blue sage (Salvia farinacea), phlox (Phlox spp.), limestone gaura (Gaura calcicola and other species), Texas toadflax (Nuttallanthus texanus), prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida)
RTR: What are key factors that influence stellar wildflower production?
DL-A: Good fall rains result in good seed germination, continued rains through winter keep the plants growing. Too much rain, however, can cause seedlings in low areas or of species that prefer dry conditions to rot. So, just enough but not too much…that’s the sweet spot.
RTR: What resources do you have for people to learn about wildflower sightings?
Don’t forget to check out five tips for taking the best bluebonnet photos ever from Anna Spencer Morse (Grace Photography) and Dixie Ray Hamilton (Dixie Ray Photography.)