A while back I wrote about starting your own pocket prairie. I gave you three easy steps to get started: 1.Remove the Existing Ground Cover, 2. Select and Spread Native Seed, and 3. Water, and Water Well. So, if you decided to go for it, your space will fill with native wild flowers. Here is what you can expect.
First, and foremost, Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) will arrive. These are most hardy thriving in full sun and well drained soil. Seeds will burst into thick colonies of brilliant red flowers with yellow rims. Rising up to 12 to 30-inches, the flower head ranges from 1-1/2 to 2-inches across. As a bonus, they make excellent cut flowers lasting over a week.
In spite of its name the Golden Wave Tickseed (Coreopsis tinctoria) is a member of the sunflower family. If you know Texas summers, you know this flower from roadsides and dried up fields. The 12 to 48-inch plant yields 1-1/4-inch bright yellow flowers with a reddish-brown center.
Stretching from 12 to 36-inches, the Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) can last well into the fall. That makes them an important nectar source for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. They are drought resistant, but do like a bit of shade from the afternoon summer sun.
The Lemon Beebalm (Monarda citriodora), aka Horsemint, is a member of the mint family. At 12 to 24-inches tall, its lavendar-pink flowers is another reliable nectar source up until the first frost, especially preferred by butterflies and hummingbirds.
Although classified as an invasive species, the Common Hedge Parsley (Torilis arvensis) is so sparse as to not impact local ecosystems. As a member of the carrot family its tiny white flowers attract smaller bees, flies and wasps. The foliage is a preferred food of Black Swallowtail caterpillars (Papilio polyxenes asterias).
The Arrow Leaf Clover (Trifolium vesiculosum) produces a cylindrical shape flower head that begins white turning pink or purple as it matures to a height of 40 – 50-inches. Because it attracts bumblebees and honey bees, it is a good source for clover honey.
With smaller flowers of up to 1-inch across the Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) adds a delicate delightfulness to the pocket prairie as it stands upright or sprawls from 12 to 36-inches. The Common Sulfur butterfly (Colias philodice) lays its eggs on the leaves as a larval food source. It forms a flat seed pod as a source of food for dove and songbirds.
You can plant other native wildflower varieties. The choices are yours, but keep this in mind. Whatever you choose you can develop a pocket prairie as an important wildlife habitat and pollinator sanctuary right in your own backyard.
Photos by Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and R. Dale Wade