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Mr. Smarty Plants - What happened to the bluebonnets?

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Monday - June 09, 2008

From: Liberty Hill, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: What happened to the bluebonnets?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I was wondering if you could tell me why there weren't any bluebonnets out this year? I live in the Hill Country and drive to Austin everyday. I look forward to seeing the bluebonnets up and down the highway every year. It was very sad not to see them this year. They didn't even grow in my yard, in which I have a big patch. Please let me know if there is anything to do to make sure we don't miss them again next year.

ANSWER:

Pray for rain. Or learn the Indian Rain Dance. Even move east of I-35. Sorry, we don't mean to be flip, we miss the bluebonnets as much as anyone. The problem is that in 2007, we had a very good year. The rains fell at exactly the right time in the Fall, again in the Spring, and it was a cool, moist season, which made for a long season of bloom of the wildflowers. So, we were all spoiled, and, being human, expected the same thing this year. Only this year, we had quite the opposite set of conditions, dry, hot, etc. In the Hill Country, you got even less rain than Austin, and Austin got less rain than counties east of I-35. but even they were more sparse. So, that's the bad news. The good news is that the way Texas wildflowers, including bluebonnets, survive the quirks of Texas weather is to dig in, go underground and wait. You might say we have our own Millennium Seed Bank, right under our feet. The seeds of wildflowers have tough coats, to protect the living material inside. They can hold out for years, staying viable until the magic moment when the rains come again.

We want to feel we're in control, blaming overgrazing, or over-development, or just mowing, but we're not really in control at all. Beyond watering the patch where you've had bluebonnets in the past, if it's feasible, in the Fall and again in January when the rosettes appear, there doesn't appear to be much you can do. But we're perfectly confident that the bluebonnets will bloom again.


Lupinus texensis

Lupinus subcarnosus

Lupinus havardii

Lupinus perennis

 

 

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