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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - April 30, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Hardiness of bluebonnet seeds under water and white bluebonnets
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I was trying to find out more about the hardiness of bluebonnets. We own a lot on Lake Travis near Spicewood Texas. As you are probably aware, the lake was very low this spring due to a drought that started in late 2005. One unexpected benefit of the drought was a massive growth of bluebonnets in the shoreline area that is almost always under water. It amazed me that the seeds/plants would survive being inundated for such long periods of time and then spring forth in the most dense growth of blue bonnets I’ve ever seen. If you’d like to see the photos, I’d be glad to share them. Each photo file is quite large because I took them with a 10 Mega pixel camera. We also had a white blue bonnet that we found in Spring 2005 in an area away from the shore line and found in the exact same place in 2007. Interestingly there are no other white bluebonnets in that area nor did we find them in the massive growth that was along the shoreline. Thanks for being available for these inquiries.


Bluebonnets are annuals; that is, they have to come up from seed each year. Was the area underwater last summer when bluebonnets were going to seed? If there were bluebonnets blooming in the same general area last year, it is more than likely that seeds from last year's crop produced the plants blooming this year. Bluebonnet seeds are dispersed mechanically when the dry seed pods burst and fling the seeds out. They can travel by gravity downhill if there is no vegetation in the way. Also, rain could wash them downhill. I don't believe that the seeds could survive longterm submersion in water, but it is possible that some seeds floated in from another area and were deposited as the lake receded.

Please see the answer to a recent question for a discussion of white bluebonnets.




More Wildflowers Questions

Plants for a Steep, Sunny Slope in Iowa
April 28, 2013 - I am looking for plants native to Iowa for a steep, sunny slope or groundcover.
view the full question and answer

The most common wildflower in the United States
July 29, 2014 - What is the most common wildflower in the United States?
view the full question and answer

Time to sow wildflower seeds in Ft. Worth TX
January 07, 2010 - When do I sow wildflower seeds?
view the full question and answer

Native flowers for an English garden in New Jersey
August 06, 2008 - I am working on a English type garden and trying to achieve the most color flowers, mainly the longest summer blooms. I live in Port Monmouth NJ. Any suggestions for the best and longest summer bloo...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating Claytonia virginica in Varna IL
April 13, 2010 - How do I get rid of or control Claytonia virginica? It is starting to take over my lawn.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center