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
1 rating

Monday - April 25, 2005

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Germination and propagation of bluebonnets
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I live in Austin. Last fall I spread a load of dirt on my lawn to provide soil contact for the 2 pounds of bluebonnet seeds I subsequently spread (this was in early November). The germination rate appears to have been very low. Other than seed scarification (which I did not do) what else can I try to get better results? Was the load of dirt a reasonable thing to try?

ANSWER:

First of all, bluebonnet seeds naturally germinate over a period of several years. This is a common survival strategy for plants living in difficult climates. If the weather is not suitable for bluebonnet success this year, there will be seeds next year and the next to try and try again. In newly sown meadows it is normal to see a gradual increase in the number of bluebonnets over several years. This past year, was not a particularly good year for bluebonnets in many areas due to high rainfall rates at critical times that led to a fungal outbreak. The dirt was a reasonable thing to try, but it may also have been a boon for pillbugs. Although they tend to feed on decaying organic matter, they can decimate germinating bluebonnet seeds. Having said all that, scarifying the seeds would have probably given you better germination. One method is to put sand in a large jar with a small amount of water to make a slurry, add the bluebonnet seeds and shake vigorously. Pour the mixture out on a fine screen and rinse the sand away. Planting the seeds a little earlier in the fall might also insure better germination
 

More Propagation Questions

Time to mulch without inhibiting seeds in Hitchcock, TX
March 17, 2010 - When would be the best time of year to put down mulch, if I want my native plants to re-seed? I don't want to bury the seed under mulch layers or new dirt. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Varieties of Ceanothus suitable for Illinois
September 07, 2012 - Ceanothus Velutinus is the smell of western Montana, my home, to me, and I have relocated to Illinois. I miss it so much that whenever I go home I bring back a jar of ceanothis leaves and keep th...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting or seeding Indian paintbrush in Bend OR
July 21, 2009 - I would like to know whether I can transplant native Indian paintbrush plants into my landscaping, or do I need to try and grow them from seed?
view the full question and answer

Why is my Horstail falling over in Austin?
October 14, 2010 - I have a Horsetail plant. It was doing great but now, for the last few months, its not growing straight! Its falling over. Why?
view the full question and answer

Saving frozen yuccas from North Carolina
February 23, 2013 - I live in NC and have 2 potted yucca plants on my deck. Every year I have brought them in for the winter. This year, someone told us that we could leave them out all winter. They began to die in the c...
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