Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Wednesday - April 18, 2007

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Obtaining seeds for mutant white bluebonnet
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have seen a white bluebonnet in Brenham on Easter and wondered how rare the white ones are and how you get seeds for those. Are there any special directions on collecting seeds for planting next fall? Scarify, keep dry/cool, etc. What is your opinion of the weather affecting this years bluebonnets?

ANSWER:

The white bluebonnet you saw is the result of a mutation in one of the genes responsible for producing the blue pigment of the flower. There are color variations other than white that show up occasionally (e.g., pink) but neither the white flower nor any of the other variants are true breeding. In other words, if they are sitting in a field with mostly normal bluebonnets, the pollen that the white ones receive will most likely be from the normal bluebonnets. This pollen will mask the mutation in the next generation so that they will have blue flowers instead of white. Some white ones will still surface every so often since blue flowers can carry (but masks) the mutant gene that causes white flowers. To produce white flowers, an egg with the white mutant gene must be fertilized by pollen which also has the mutant gene. If you want a population of all white bluebonnets, the white parent flowers have to be fertilized only by pollen that carries the mutation.

Dr. Jerry Parsons of Texas A&M, by carefully selecting and breeding color variants, produced a red bluebonnet and a Texas Aggie maroon bluebonnet. You can read about how he accomplished this in The Color-ization of the State Flower.

Wildseed Farms in Fredricksburg has the maroon, Alamo Fire, but Mr. Smarty Plants hasn't found a source for the white bluebonnet.

You can find "How to Grow Bluebonnets" in our how to articles with information about collecting, treating and planting bluebonnet seeds.

The rains have been beneficial for a good crop of bluebonnet seeds and the below freezing temperatures were short-lived, or non-existent, in most of the bluebonnets' range so shouldn't affect their seed production for next year's crop.


Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

 

 

More Propagation Questions

Overwintering Newly Rooted Hydrangea
September 05, 2013 - I am in the process of rooting a hydrangea shoot in a pot, should I bring this inside to winter? I thought burying the whole clay pot to winter outside, is this feasible? I'm in zone 6b. What would b...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of possumhaw from Austin
May 22, 2014 - I planted a possumhaw holly plant about 3 months ago and am really excited to watch it grow from its current 3-foot height. It is starting to berry right now. My question is about those berries: (Cle...
view the full question and answer

Tall Evergreens for Pennsylvania
January 06, 2011 - I want to plant tall evergreen trees that grow really tall in deep shade or that I can plant already fairly large and withstand the shock of planting in a mature state and live in deep shade. I thank ...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower garden with Castilleja indivisa (Indian paintbrush)
January 08, 2013 - I want to start a wildflower garden in my front/backyard. Specifically, I would like to include the indian paintbrush. What is the best way to go about this? Straight in the ground, containers, etc...
view the full question and answer

Planting time for Helianthus annuus in Wichita Co., TX
April 16, 2007 - I need to know when is the best time to plant sunflowers in the Wichita Falls, Texas area? Thank you for your time.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.