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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.

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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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Monday - April 07, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Northwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Viability of bluebonnets in Portland, Oregon
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My best friend lives in Portland, Oregon, and misses Texas wildflowers terribly. I would really love to send her some bluebonnet seeds (or even other native wildflowers) but I'm wondering if there are any that will grow in Oregon?

ANSWER:

Bluebonnets are lupines, or members of the genus Lupinus. Lupines are found all over the world, but many of them are native to North America. There six of those species of lupine that are native to Texas, and all six of them are considered the State Flower of Texas. They grow here because the soils, weather, moisture, etc. are all appropriate for that particular species. Portland has a totally different ecology, cooler, wetter, less sunshine. We found ten species of lupines that will grow in Oregon, are native to Oregon, and are very similar in appearance to the Texas natives. There are two choices here: one is to send seeds for, say, Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) to your friend and she can experiment and see what happens; the second is to find a species that looks as close to what she has in her memory as the Texas bluebonnet, purchase the seeds in Oregon from native plant and seed suppliers, and grow them where they belong. Since these seeds would ordinarily be planted in the Fall, you (and your friend) have a little time to look over the facts and then decide. First, read these three articles in our "How-To Articles" on the culture of bluebonnets: How to Grow Bluebonnets, How to Grow Bluebonnets: Rhizobium FAQs, and How to Grow Bluebonnets: Scarification FAQs. All members of the Lupinus genus are members of the Fabaceae, or legume, family so the growing requirements should be very similar. Finally, suggest that your friend go to this website for the Portland Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon. Not only will they have publications and informative meetings, but they have a tab on their home page for Native Plant Suppliers. For comparison sake, we are going to list the six lupines native to Texas, and the ten we liked that are native to Oregon. Any one of these that you or your friend is interested in knowing more about, you can go down to the bottom of the webpage for that particular species, click on "Search Google for (name of plant) and it will take you to a whole lot more information than we have room for in our Native Plant Database.

Native to Texas

Lupinus havardii (Big Bend bluebonnet)

Lupinus plattensis (Nebraska lupine)

Lupinus subcarnosus (Texas bluebonnet)

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet)

Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine)

Lupinus concinnus (bajada lupine)

Native to Oregon

Lupinus albifrons (silver lupine)

Lupinus argenteus (silvery lupine)

Lupinus bicolor (miniature lupine)

Lupinus caudatus (tailcup lupine)

Lupinus grayi (Sierra lupine)

Lupinus polyphyllus (bigleaf lupine)

Lupinus sellulus ssp. sellulus var. lobbii (Donner Lake lupine)

Lupinus sericeus (silky lupine)

Lupinus vallicola (open lupine)

Lupinus wyethii (Wyeth's lupine)

 

From the Image Gallery


Big bend bluebonnet
Lupinus havardii

Nebraska lupine
Lupinus plattensis

Sandyland bluebonnet
Lupinus subcarnosus

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Sundial lupine
Lupinus perennis

Annual lupine
Lupinus concinnus

Silver lupine
Lupinus albifrons

Silvery lupine
Lupinus argenteus

Miniature lupine
Lupinus bicolor

Tailcup lupine
Lupinus caudatus

Sierra lupine
Lupinus grayi

Bigleaf lupine
Lupinus polyphyllus

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