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?

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
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

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

Native turkscap failing to thrive in Shiro TX
March 19, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Two years ago I transplanted several native (not cultivars) Drummond's turkscaps in the proximity of water oaks in the front yard. All get shade and some sun. They seemed to ...
view the full question and answer

At what age does Possumhaw (Ilex decidua) begin to flower in Pflugerville, TX?
January 13, 2011 - At what age does a female possumhaw (Ilex decidua) usually bloom and set fruit? Or is there a way to identify the female other than by the presence of berries? I grew a number from seed and want to ...
view the full question and answer

Age before blooming of a Fendler rupicola from Elmendorf TX
April 06, 2014 - How old does a Fendlera rupicola plant have to be before it will bloom?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on potted plants
May 23, 2005 - How do you know when it is time to transfer a potted plant to a bigger pot? Everytime I do this my plant dies.
view the full question and answer

Oakleaf hydrangea in Indiana
November 18, 2010 - I was given a start of an oak leaf hydrangea by a generous friend from her garden. I have been searching for "what to expect" about this plant. I planted it last year and it grew..this year..but d...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center