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September 29, 2018


What is this plant?

 Picture of obedient plant




This is a perennial plant commonly called Obedient Plant – Physostegia.  Unlike its name, it can be far from obedient, since it can spread quite easily.  It gets the common name because you can move the individual flowers around and they stay put.  Why you would want to do that, I am not sure.  It does have a long season of bloom, but it is in the mint family and can spread. 


August 11, 2018

QuestionCan you identify this plant? It came up voluntary in a new flower bed. Thought it might be a Paulownia that you featured a couple of weeks ago but leaves are different. Buds start out with a small bit of yellow but open up as black spiked balls.

Picture of Velvet leaf     Picture of velvet leaf

AnswerThe plant in question is an annual plant commonly called Velvetleaf - Abutilon theophrasti. Some consider it a weed, and some consider it a wildflower, however it is native to India.  According to Wildflowers of Arkansas by Carl Hunter, the seed heads were once used to pattern the edge of pie crusts! Another common name is Pie Maker.  It produces a lot of seeds, so if you don’t want it returning, you may want to start pulling. 


October 21, 2017


Where can I find wildflowers seed & milkweeds to plant in our shady garden? It faces the NE.



There are 73 species of milkweeds native to the United States, and 30 that are used with regularity by monarchs.  The most common one sold in garden centers across the state is Asclepias tuberosa or the butterfly weed. It will grow in light shade, but blooms best in full sun.  The swamp milkweed A. incarnata, the whorled milkweed A. verticillata, and the Sullivant's milkweed A.sullivanti will tolerate more shade.  Check with your local nursery to see what varieties of milkweed they sell.  Many nurseries do carry some wildflower seeds as well, and now is a good time to plant. Two nurseries in the state specialize in native plants and wildflowers.  Pine Ridge Gardens in London, Arkansas is a mail order nursery specializing in native plants and Holland Wildflower Farms in Elkins, Arkansas is a mail order nursery specializing in wildflower seeds, both by individual species and wildflower mixes.


June 20, 2017


We spread wild flowers in the back of our house a few years ago.  We had one year that was good but until this year very few.  The three that came back are sparse.  We need to cut the back yard but would like to do it at the best time to spread the seeds.  Can you help?  Attached is a photo of the three we have.



You still have flowers on your coreopsis, verbena and daisy fleabane, so it is too early to mow.  You need the flowers to be totally gone and the seed heads totally mature if you are planning for them to self-sow.  Usually we would not recommend mowing a wildflower field until the flowers have been gone for weeks, giving the plants time to have mature seed heads.  Deadheading can keep them blooming longer into the season, but that will not help reseed.  Some gardeners only allow seed set to mature in the fall. Overseeding with new wildflower seed annually will help get your wildflowers more numerous until you have an established wildflower meadow.   Adding in a few annuals like larkspur and Shirley poppy will also help give added color.  They too can reseed themselves.


February 4, 2017

QuestionLast year I planted wildflowers along the back of my property.  For the first year they did ok, and while I had some blooms I had a lot more weeds and grass.  Could I spray weed killer that's ok for a regular flower garden on a wildflower garden? 



There are very few herbicides that will kill broadleaf weeds in flower beds, since most flowers are broadleaf plants—and that includes wildflowers.  There are some pre-emergent products labeled for ornamentals, but we want wildflowers to grow from seed as well as the root system, so that would not be a good idea.  The herbicide might prevent some annual weeds but it would also impact your wildflower seed.  There are some grass specific herbicides which can work with wildflowers--Poast, Grass-b-gone, etc.  If grass is your main weed problem, try that this summer when the grass begins active growth.  It won't work on broadleaf weeds nor dormant grass.  Clean up the area as best you can now, and try to keep it as clean as possible.  That is why it is critical that you do a good job of killing weeds prior to planting wildflower seed, since the mix isn't easy to deal with later.


September  2010

QuestionI hope you can help me. A friend gave me a packet of Indian Paintbrush seeds . I started them in my mini greenhouse and they have begun to sprout. All I am seeing is grass growing. Is this correct? Will the actual plant start to grow once the grass takes root? Once the plant itself starts to appear, will I need to remove the grass or do I plant them together? We would like to make the Indian Paintbrush a houseplant if that is possible. We live in Philadelphia, PA. Any information you can offer is greatly appreciated

 AnswerIndian paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea) is a great annual wildflower which can reseed itself, but it would not make a great houseplant. Seeding of wildflowers is best done in the fall outdoors. The first seed leaves that emerge on many plants may look grass-like, and once the true leaves begin forming they should begin to look more like the leaves of the adult plant. If it continues to be grassy, you may have some grass seed mixed in with the wildflower seed. Indian Paintbrush is considered a wildflower in Pennsylvania as well as Arkansas so it should work for you outdoors.

August 2010

QuestionWe would like to plant an acre wildflower meadow and haven't been able to find information for the central Arkansas area. We have questions on soil prep, planting time and killing grasses. Do you have any suggestions?


 AnswerThe best time to plant wildflowers is in October. Start preparing your site now. Have your soil tested, kill out the grass and weeds and amend the soil if needed with compost. Round-up or a glyphosate product works well to kill the existing vegetation. Then this fall, broadcast the seeds -- use a mix of annuals and perennials, so that you will have flowers the first year. Then lightly cover with mulch or roll the seed to make firm contact with seed and soil. Water and wait for spring.

April 2010

QuestionI have been told that you are sometimes able to identify wild flowers. Are you able to identify the one below? I thought that it kind of, sort of looked like a wild orchid, but have been getting considerable flack from family who claim that it is "just" a violet.

  AnswerIt is bird's foot violet - Viola pedata.

March 2010

QuestionThere are tiny little five-petaled, star shaped pinkish purple flowers blooming all over my yard. I would love to know what these are. I've seen them covering whole lots and lawns and they are really pretty. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

 AnswerBelieve it or not, this weed/wildflower is a North American native called spring beauty (Claytonia virginica). A member of the purslane family, it does have beautiful little flowers, but it can become quite invasive. A few flowers one year turn into more each season. The plant is a spring ephemeral, here today and gone with the heat of summer. It reproduces from a tiny bulb-like structure
called a corm, which Native Americans actually used as a food source. Depending on how weed-free you want your lawn determines whether you call it a weed or a wildflower.

June 2010

QuestionWe live outside of Ash Flat and recently bought the old home place next to our home place. We know this place dates back to the middle 1800's from local stories. We are in the process of having it leveled so we can mow it and are trying to save all the wild flowers, etc. that we can. We have transplanted irises, jonquils and other plants. I am enclosing one that we found blooming today in the middle of a clump of weeds, young tree saplings and vines. I would like to know what it is and if it can be transplanted.

 AnswerThe plant in question is a milkweed, one of the favorite hosts of the monarch butterfly. While most people are familiar with the orange flowering Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, there are milkweeds with white, red and pink flowers also. I believe yours is probably the common milkweed Asclepias syriaca or the Red Milkweed Asclepias incarnata, which produces rich clusters of deep rose-purple to pale-rose colored flowers. Almost all of the Aesclepias plants are the very best food plants for Monarch Butterfly larvae,
the caterpillars will eat all the leaves off, but that is why you normally are growing it! The feeding doesn't hurt the plant, and you will have a lot of monarchs hatch out in your garden.

June 2010

QuestionMy friend is traveling by plane to Rhode Island to visit a friend who is a gardener. She would like to take some seeds that are representative of flowers or items that grow in Arkansas. It's more the idea of representative Arkansas flowers than what would really thrive there. Any ideas? I can think of Texas bluebonnets for Texas, but I am stumped for a special Arkansas flower!!

 AnswerFinding seed for it may be a challenge but Amsonia hubrichtii is commonly called Arkansas blue star and is a great wildflower that would do well in Rhode Island. Coreopsis, purple coneflower, butterfly weed and many others are great native wildflowers for us, but not necessarily only found in Arkansas. A nice mix might be a good idea. The state flower of Arkansas is the apple blossom and the state wildflower is supposedly tickseed (which is a coreopsis) tickseed coreopsis is Coreopsis lanceolata. Hope this helps.

May 2010

QuestionIs there anything short of dynamite to remove Star of Bethlehem from my yard? If there is not, can you tell me where to buy dynamite?


 AnswerStar of Bethlehem is one of those wildflowers gone weedy! It can take over a lawn or garden quite quickly. If there is any saving grace, they do disappear when the heat of summer sets in. Herbicides can give you limited control, but not complete control. Spot spraying with a glyphosate product can give you some control as can applications of 2,4-D repeated annually, but for total
eradication, digging them up one by one is your best bet—and not an easy task.

December 2009

QuestionI am from Northwest Arkansas and now living in Saline County. As we drive south or even around Little Rock, I am amazed at the beautiful white bushes along the roads or in fields. I have never stopped to see them up close, but they are so attractive I wonder why no one has them as a plant in their gardens or yards. Are they not a nice plant? I think I saw a couple on the way to Mt. View in someone’s yard that had grown into trees - but no white blooms or whatever. Are they invasive or what?

 AnswerThe plants you are referring to are called groundsel bush - Baccharis halimifolia. They can be a bit aggressive in the home landscape, however I think they are quite showy in a season when we often need some color. It is a native plant and only the females are showy in the fall.

QuestionPlease tell me where I can find a pretty green clover-like plant with a pink flower. It is in the shamrock family I am sure. I've called many nurseries and they all come up with having the shamrock plant. That is not the plant I want.


 AnswerI think the plant you are referring to is Oxalis or common wood sorrel. There is a yellow flowering form and a pink flowering form. They produce tiny corms or bulbs underground, and once established, can become a bit of a nuisance. They are considered a wildflower. If you can find someone who has some, I am sure they would be happy to share. Wildflower sources may also carry them.

December 2005

QuestionWould you know what the small bushy trees along many roadsides and ditches are with narrow willow-type leaves and in November are covered in tiny white blooms? I had one that came up in my back yard in Maumelle this spring and it grew to 6 feet by the end of this season! I was wondering if I need to cut it down, thanks!

 AnswerThis is a common question every year. The plant in question is the Groundsel Bush, or Baccharis halimifolia. This native plant can be found commonly in the southern half of Arkansas. It is extremely showy this year. It is dioecious which means there are separate male and female plants. The showy one is the female, and the white color is actually silky hairs, much like you see on dandelion flowers. Female flowers will have many of these white bristles or hairs, while the male flowers will have few. They are fairly weedy looking until they begin their fall bloom. They have not been known to be that weedy in the U.S., but are considered a noxious weed in Australia. The jury is still out as to the groundsel's place in the home landscape. Watch it for a year or two and see if it spreads.

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