En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - July 12, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Propagation, Wildflowers
Title: Bluebonnets in Hampton VA?
Answered by: Larry Larson


I gave my mom Blue Bonnet seeds for her yard in Hampton VA. She is on a mission to have no lawn and loves flowers. The seeds say to plant in Texas August-November. But, when should she plant them in Hampton VA? And should she sprout them inside first?


   That’s a really nice present for your mother.  Bluebonnets normally sprout in the fall to early winter and stay small through the winter but ready to really shoot up as soon as soon as it’s securely spring.  Just because there are harsher winters in VA, it would probably be best to go ahead and sprout them inside in an area that’s still quite chill. Central Texas normally has just a few days at or below freezing, so that’s what they are acclimated to.  It would be a real good idea to carefully read the “How-to” article that is on the Wildflower Center website.

   That said, I don’t hold a lot of hope for bluebonnets doing very well at your mothers place at Hampton VA.  That’s way out of the Bluebonnets normal range.  They are adapted to our harsh rocky limestone soil and to the climate we have here.  Part of that adaptation is the really hard seeds mentioned in the “how-to” article – only a few of them will germinate each year, and also the partnership with nitrogen fixing bacteria they need to prosper.   Here are a couple other Mr Smarty Plants answers to similar questions around the country:
Will maroon and Texas Bluebonnets prosper in Richland MO?
Will a gift of bluebonnet seeds grow in Massachusetts?


   May I suggest some good alternatives that will do well in Hampton VA?   We have lists of plants that are native to each state and to many ecological regions.  This is the collection that is native to Virginia.  By clicking “Herb” as the General Appearance and then “Narrow your Search” – You will have a great selection of wildflowers that are nearly guaranteed to prosper in your mother’s lawn as it turns to a Wildflower Garden. [You may want to select for the amount of sun and how wet the soil is also.]   33 possibilities showed up when I did the first selection, some nice flowers are:

Amsonia tabernaemontana (Eastern bluestar)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Coreopsis tinctoria (Plains coreopsis)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower) 

Gaillardia pulchella (Firewheel) 

Lupinus perennis (Sundial lupine)

   All of these, by the way, also are present in Central Texas except for Lupinus perennis (Sundial lupine), which is a close relative to the bluebonnet which is native to Virginia.


From the Image Gallery

Eastern bluestar
Amsonia tabernaemontana

Asclepias tuberosa

Plains coreopsis
Coreopsis tinctoria

Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

Indian blanket
Gaillardia pulchella

Sundial lupine
Lupinus perennis

More Propagation Questions

Dividing blackeyed susans in Lake Ronkoko NY
July 06, 2009 - How are you supposed to divide blackeyed susan's? And when is the best time to do this?
view the full question and answer

Hollies not retaining leaves in Tulsa
August 10, 2008 - I have Little Red Hollies that have lost their leaves, some areas being bald. They are also not full - you can see through them. These were planted in this condition Spring of '08 and have been wat...
view the full question and answer

Do flowers on century plants grow century plants from Huachuca City AZ
September 06, 2013 - The flowers on century plants: can they "grow" century plants?
view the full question and answer

Replacing hawthorn bush with muhly grass from Plano TX
April 10, 2014 - I am thinking of replacing a hawthorn bush with a muhly grass plant or two in an edged area with river rock cover in Plano, texas. It is the black soil and not a sandy loam. We have a sprinkler syst...
view the full question and answer

Growing Big Red Sage from Seed in San Antonio
November 04, 2010 - I harvested some seed this year from my Big Red Salvia (Salvia penstemonoides). I have searched multiple sites looking for information on growing this wonderful salvia but cannot locate any informati...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center