Texas redbud, Mexican plum, Carolina jessamine and more. Wildflowers are blooming their way north across Texas.
While the early blooms are already spreading across the region, Denton County residents can expect to see iconic bluebonnets at the top of their game in the coming weeks.
On average, our patch of North Texas might be a couple weeks behind San Antonio and Austin, but the “bloomline” is making its way north, said Liz Moyer with the Denton County Master Gardener Association and the Trinity Forks Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas.
An abnormally cloudy winter shouldn’t harm blooming flowers too much, and long-touted wisdom that “April showers bring May flowers” is less than accurate, said Dr. Ken Steigman, a research scientist with the University of North Texas.
Steigman is also director of the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area, which serves researchers studying natural habitats around the lake and the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.
While a cloudy winter might slightly delay the eventual blooms, it shouldn’t significantly harm the overall floral product.
“This year should be a great wildflower year; that’s basically because we had tons of moisture in the end of last year,” he said.
He likens the ensuing blooms to a firework show with early-bloomers serving only as a precursor to what you can expect toward in the finale.
Moyer said sunlight and rains in the coming weeks will largely determine how quickly many of the wildflowers will bloom if they haven’t already.
Contrary to the transitory feeling surrounding spring flowers, Steigman pointed out these same blooming plants began germinating in the fall and were likely already growing above ground by Thanksgiving.
He said the months of preparation will culminate in May, just before rising temperatures start to kill off the flowers.
“That month should really be a kaleidoscope of flowers of well over a dozen species,” Steigman said.
As spring transitions to summer, seeds will begin to set and the wildflower season will taper off.
“The good thing I’ve seen is more use of wildflowers and native plants in home landscapes,” she said, pointing to a desire to help native pollinator populations as a partial reason she considers it good.
The impressive average wildflower turnout in the area is in spite of local TxDOT policy not to regularly sow wildflower seeds.
According to Donna Simmons, public information officer for the Dallas district — which includes Denton — the department has opted for alternate methods for sustaining native flowers, such as careful mowing and responsible herbicide use.
The department has a statewide program that distributes about 30,000 pounds of seeds each year along roadways.
“The program is statewide, but the Dallas district doesn’t participate in the program,” Simmons said.
She didn’t say how long the department has gone without spreading seeds, but she pointed to mowing practices as a vague tapering to the initiative’s local branch.
“Every time you mow, you’re practically reseeding anyway,” she said.
Moyer agreed, as long as plants “get mowed after they’ve set seed, so that has to be later in the year.”
Until the mowers take to taming TxDOT territory, Texans and tourists alike will flock to patches of natural color wherever they can be found.
All three experts warned those looking for the picture-perfect flower patch to be mindful of their surroundings: Stay at least 30 feet from roadways, and look out for whatever insects, arachnids or other angry critters might be living among the flowers before you take out the camera.