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?

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - December 18, 2008

From: Abilene, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Proper method of scattering bluebonnet seeds
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I scattered about 20 lbs of bluebonnet seeds during various times this past fall season. I have read that it is a must to plant the seeds about an 1/8" of an inch into the ground rather than surface sow them in fear that the birds will get to them. My question is, since Mother Nature surface sows the Bluebonnet seeds during the spring time, why is it that the birds don't get to them then? Thanks !

ANSWER:

Because there is no perfect way to sow seeds to prevent damage by insects, being eaten by birds, being blown to inhospitable dirt (like pavement), or too much/too little water most plants make LOTS of seeds, and bluebonnets are no exception. The mother plant doesn't carefully select the right place and then tenderly rake them in, she just lets 'em go. We have no figures on what percentage of seeds actually make it from the seed pod to the point of becoming another full-grown plant, but it's probably not very large. The thing is, Nature has very kindly provided our beautiful bluebonnets, and all the other plants that grow from seeds in the world, survival tactics. They can hunker down in the soil, and wait years for the right conditions to appear. They can become food for animals and birds, thus helping them to survive. They can hide in the grass from predators, blending in to the soil, "disappearing" from sight, or they may prove never to have been viable, no matter how protected and perfectly planted they have been. Some processes we just can't control. Read our How-To Article How to Grow Bluebonnets for some more suggestions on propagation of the Texas state flower. 


Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

 

 

More Propagation Questions

How to grow milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) for monarch butterflies
March 31, 2010 - I tried and tried and tried to grow Asclepias viridis, A. asperula and even A. oenotheroides from seeds and even tubers for fourteen years! Do you have advice for growing these and other milkweed plan...
view the full question and answer

Removal of non-native zoysia grass from Burgettstown PA
September 12, 2013 - What is the most effective method of killing zoysia grass? We bought a house that sits in the center of four acres of mature zoysia. It looks beautiful, however, despite our best efforts at "weeding...
view the full question and answer

Sapindus drummondii or Rhus aromatica for Austria
May 07, 2006 - Hy! I'm from Austria/Europe, and interested in some North American native plants specially. It would be great if you can help me with my two questions: Sapindus drummondii I read from different...
view the full question and answer

Are the seeds of my Graptopetalum paraguayense in Macon, GA fertile?
June 01, 2010 - I have a Graptopetalum paraguayense that has finished blooming. I put several of the dead flowers into a Ziploc bag and shook them around, and a few hundred seeds came out. They are oblong and very sm...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of native plants by seed in Round Rock TX
February 26, 2011 - I'm trying to include more native and adapted low water use plants in the landscaping of my yard in Round Rock Texas. Due to a limited budget I've been collecting seeds from plants around the area ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center