En EspaŅol

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
2 ratings

Monday - October 08, 2007

From: Lago Vista, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Inoculant for bluebonnets
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus


Where can I find inoculant for my bluebonnets? I have searched high and low. Native American Seeds does not carry it. I can buy it for soybeans in a huge quantity, but am not sure that this is the correct bacteria formulation. Is there a source that you know of? Thank you.


If you read the entry in the Native Plant Database for Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), it says:

"If planting this species in areas where it has not formerly grown it may be helpful to inoculate the soil with a rhizobium (soil-borne bacteria which form nitrogen-rich root nodules) for lupines."

It is in fact, not really necessary to inoculate the soil to successfully grow bluebonnets. Rhizobium does help bluebonnets and other, mostly leguminous, plants grow in poor, nitrogen-deficient soils. Given sufficient nitrogen fertilizer and grown in reasonably high pH soil, bluebonnets will grow and flower just fine. Also, bluebonnet seeds often come pre-inoculated from the seed seller.

Unfortunately, there are few sources for obtaining Rhizobium cultures. I did find one source, Becker Underwood in Australia with worldwide production and marketing, that lists a rhizobium inoculant for lupins. The USDA has a Rhizobium Germplasm Collection that provides free cultures for research but they do not have a database of strains available. You can see a list of other bacterial culture collections worldwide. Apparently rhizobium inoculant used to be available in powdered form in nurseries, but I have not been able to find any suppliers listed on the internet. You might check our National Suppliers Directory for nurseries in your area that specialize in native plants and telephone or e-mail them to see if they have it.


More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Is Cissus trifoliata a food source for wildlife?
November 10, 2008 - We apparently have Cissus Trifoliata growing around and over our porch.I was thinking about trying to remove it and plant grape vines instead as our desert tortoises will eat grape leaves. My question...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on basketplant
August 22, 2005 - I want to buy a basketplant (Callisia fragrans). Do you know where can I buy it?
view the full question and answer

Source for safe glass mulch in Austin, TX.
August 13, 2010 - Do you know where one can buy locally in Austin the recycled glass mulch that is sold in clean condition, color separated?
view the full question and answer

Source of native Desert Lily for The Netherlands
July 23, 2010 - I am searching a bulb of Hesperocallis undulata. Do you know where I can get/buy this bulb I hope you can help me. Thank you very much warmest regards The Netherlands
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Aesculus parvifolia from Rochester MI
February 11, 2011 - Aesculus parvifolia. I purchased one plant in spring 2010---it's about 3 ft tall. How might I propagate from this one plant, or should I buy another?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center