“This past fall we did not have great rainfall around the state. ... That doesn't bode well for the early spring wildflowers like bluebonnets, phlox and Indian paintbrush,” Waitt said. “Now we got some pretty decent winter rains around the state, which is very beneficial for what did survive the fall and germination, so there will be bluebonnets and there will be wildflowers, probably just not as abundant as last year and maybe a little more diminutive in size.”
Late spring and early summer blooms include Indian blanket and horsemint. “We should have a really nice late spring, early summer display,” he said.
Areas with abundant bluebonnets — the state flower of Texas — often attract people posing among the bright blue blossoms. Waitt said that there will be bluebonnets in Texas this year, but “maybe just less bountiful.”
“They'll still be out there, they may just be a little harder to find,” Waitt said.
David Sierra, Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife District 5 wildlife leader, said he expects an average showing of wildflowers to grace East Texas.
“Most wildflowers send out roots in October … and in spring they pop up,” Sierra said. “Considering the rain we had in the wintertime, I think we will have at least a average year of wildflowers this year — at least in our part of the world, but the rest of the state different story.”
Sierra said East Texas was blessed with more rain than the rest of the state, and he expects the added precipitation to boost the crop of perennials such as Coreopsis, Black Eyed Susans and Mexican Hats.
Waitt said that last year's bountiful wildflower display was the result of rainfall coming at just the right time in the fall and winter despite a drought. He added that seeds left in the soil from last year's abundant wildflower season could boost this year's late spring-early summer show of wildflowers.
“The annuals are going to come up, but they are going to be struggling a little bit,” Sierra said. “That's what you get (when you depend) on the seed crop from year to year. The seed bank is still there, and sometimes that seed lays in the soil for a year or more before the conditions are right for it to germinate.”
Also, parts of San Antonio and cities including Del Rio experienced average rainfalls late last year that will help wildflowers this spring. Perennial wildflowers including winecup and pink evening primrose should fare better than bluebonnets and other single-season flowers because they depend less on fall rain.
Judith Jones, vice president of the Amarillo chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas, said she's hoping for a good display of wildflowers when the group hosts a wildflower workshop in early May at the Palo Duro Canyon in the Panhandle.
A favorite of hers is the basket-flower, which can grow up to 5 feet tall and features a pink-purple bloom. “The basket-flower will stop you in your tracks,” she said.
Wildflowers already blooming in Central Texas include baby blue eyes, giant spiderwort and prairie verbena in eastern Travis County. Bluebonnet rosettes are growing along roadways in Brenham and the state flower can also be seen near Marble Falls.
Carolina jessamine has been spotted in Houston and spring cress and windflower can be seen in nearby Kingwood.
East Texans can expect flowers to begin to bloom around April, Sierra said.
And Waitt notes that people seeking out particular wildflowers can always visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where flowers are helped along with irrigation.