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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - March 01, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Reversion of maroon bluebonnets back to blue
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

In the fall, I bought a flat of Texas bluebonnets. They are blooming now, and it turns out they are actually maroon bluebonnets! Which is really too bad, because I want blue bluebonnets. Do you know if these maroon bluebonnets will revert back to wild-type blue over time or am I stuck with the maroon?

ANSWER:

Your maroon bluebonnets, AKA Alamo Fire, will revert back to the wild blue type in several generations if there is a pollen source of the wild Lupinus texensis (Texas lupine) nearby. If you have the patience and time you can speed the process along by hand pollinating the maroon flowers with pollen gathered on a toothpick from wild bluebonnets. If you take this approach, you have to make sure you beat the other pollinators to the punch (by punch, I mean stigma) by catching the maroon flowers right after anthesis (the period in time when a flower is reproductively mature).

By the way, the maroon variety is the product of over twenty years of breeding and research by Dr. Jerry Parsons at, you guessed it, Texas A&M University. Click here to learn more about the Parson project.

 

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