Yearning for a Spring Wildflower Drive? Hop in!

Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush ©Eric Pohl

After February’s grueling, frigid winter storm, will there be any Texas wildflowers to drive around and marvel at this year?


Our friends at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin assure us that our beloved bluebonnets will be on display this season, as well as many other favorites.


“Our Texas bluebonnets and many other native wildflowers are adapted to cold temperatures,” says Andrea DeLong-Amaya, director of horticulture at the center.” “The 6 to 8 inches of snow the area received acted as a blanket to protect them against the many days of freezing temperatures.”


The bluebonnets were ahead of schedule before the freeze, and the cold probably reset them to bloom more in line with their regular schedule in early March, she says. Central Texas’ bluebonnet season typically peaks in early to mid-April.


Some evergreen plants, however, such as the early blooming Carolina jessamine vine suffered ice-burned foliage and may not have much of a presence this season, said DeLong-Amaya. Many first-to-flower trees were hardest hit, losing their buds due to multiple days of ice, such as redbuds, Texas mountain laurel and native plums. Some warmer microclimates throughout urban areas may have fared better.

Bluebonnets ©Al Braden


Whew, there will be wildflowers! 

Now, where can we go drive around and look at them on a gorgeous spring day? 


The Wildflower Center has a great collection at their “Honey, Stop the Car” webpage.


We took the plunge, too, and featured drives around the state in our April issue. Photo Editor Sonja Sommerfeld corralled some of your favorite photographers for their views on some great routes and the blooms you’ll spy on them.  

(Remember, if you stop for a photo, watch out for snakes.)

Bluebonnets ©RobGreebon/ImagesFromTexas

Blackland Prairie

Wild petunia, golden puccoon, rose vervain, bluebonnets

Where to go: Meadow View Nature Area near Ennis; U.S. 287; Texas Highway 31 near Corsicana; Ennis Bluebonnet Trail (April 1-30). More here.


Dogwoods ©Sean Fitzgerald

East Texas

Dogwoods, redbuds and yellow jessamine

Where to go: Loops near Palestine, Rusk, Nacogdoches. LOOP ONE: From Palestine, east on U.S. 84 to Rusk. Then south on U.S. 69 to Alto. Skirt border of Davy Crockett National Forest on Texas 21 to Crockett. Head back to Palestine on U.S. 287. LOOP TWO: Take Texas 21 west from Nacogdoches to Weches. Then FM 227 south to Ratcliff. Finish by taking Texas 7 back to Nacogdoches.


Spiderwort ©Sean Fitzgerald

Far East Texas

Spiderwort, phlox, milkweed

Where to go: From Marshall, go north along Texas 43 toward Karnack. Take a detour to visit Karnack, Uncertain and Caddo Lake State Park, then head back to Texas 43 north to Atlanta. Take U.S. 59 to Linden; Texas 155 to Avinger; Texas 49 to Jefferson, then U.S. 59 back to Marshall.


Woolly paper flower ©Kathy Adams Clark


Paperflower, blackfoot daisy, lemon horsemint

Where to go: Highways and roads between Caprock Canyons and Palo Duro Canyon state parks. More here. 


West Texas bluebonnets ©Sonja Sommerfeld/TPWD

West Texas

Big Bend bluebonnets, sand bells, yellow desert marigolds, scarlet bouvardia, silverleaf nightshade

Where to go: FM 170 from Presidio to Big Bend Ranch State Park to Terlingua and Texas 118 north to Alpine.


Bluebonnets ©Al Braden
Hill Country
Winecups, bluebonnets, evening primrose, scarlet sage, Indian paintbrush, coreopsis and firewheel

Where to go: From Mason take Texas 29 to FM 2768 to Castell, then FM 152 to Llano and Texas 16 south toward Fredericksburg (Wildseed Farms and Luckenbach). On the way to Fredericksburg, take FM 965 to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area or FM 1323 to the Willow City Loop. Take U.S. 87 back to Mason. More here


Highland Lakes


Where to go: Take U.S. 281 south from Marble Falls to FM 962 to Cypress Mill, then FM 301 to U.S. 281. From Marble Falls, take FM 1431 to Kingsland, then FM 2342 to Inks Lake State Park to Texas 29 and east to Burnet.

Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush ©Al Braden

Washington County

Bluebell, winecup, Indian blanket

Where to go: Along Texas 103, FM 390, FM 50; Burton to Brenham to Chappell Hill (the Bluebonnet Festival of Texas is in April in Chappell Hill). More here.


South Hill Country 

Rock daisies, prairie verbena, Texas skeleton plant, winecups, blue sage

Where to go: From Bandera, take FM 470 to Utopia, then FM 187 through Vanderpool to Texas 39 to Hunt. Bandera Loop: Head northwest from Bandera on Texas 16. In Medina go west on FM 337 to Vanderpool and Leakey. In Leakey turn south on U.S. 83 to Garner State Park. Go east on FM 1050 to Utopia. Then take FM 187 to FM 470 back to Bandera.


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