Wildflower center experts release annual forecast

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

March 23, 2022

Texas wildflower season is almost here, and though it might not be a showstopper, University of Texas at Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center experts say there will be plenty of reasons to get outside and see the state’s iconic blooms.

“I’m expecting a nice display of wildflowers in Central Texas,” said Andrea DeLong-Amaya, the center’s director of horticulture. “Due to less rain this past fall and winter, the displays will likely be average, but average is still beautiful.”

DeLong-Amaya says Texas bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), spiderworts (Tradescantia spp.), wild onions (Allium spp.), phlox (Phlox spp.), and blanketflowers (Gaillardia spp.), the center’s 2022 Wildflower of the Year, will likely follow typical bloom patterns and show up en masse beginning late March. It’s possible the blooms could be stronger later in the spring.

The intensity of wildflower season is heavily influenced by fall and winter rains. Though the state’s native plants are adapted to withstand a certain amount of drought, lack of rain impacts the energy they have to develop showy blooms. According to weather maps shared by KXAN meteorologist and Wildflower Center advisory council member David Yeomans, most of the state is experiencing severe to extreme drought.

Annuals (plants that live only one year) generally have shallower roots and may be sparser in the most drought-affected areas, but deeper-rooted perennials (plants that live more than one year) like sundrops (Calylophus berlandieri) and Engelmann’s daisy (Engelmannia pinnatifida) should still bring plenty of spring color. These flowers don’t get the same fanfare as bluebonnets, but they’re equally beautiful, said DeLong-Amaya.
As for plants that were dormant last spring due to the winter storm? Wildflower Center experts predict a comeback.

“I’m excited for the mountain laurels [Sophora secundiflora],” DeLong-Amaya said. “They were completely fried by the winter storm last February. I’ve noticed a good crop of flower buds coming on, and I’m optimistic they’ll have a lot of pent-up energy and really get going in March. Maybe we’ll appreciate them more because we didn’t see them last year.”

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