Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
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

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

Replacing hawthorn bush with muhly grass from Plano TX
April 10, 2014 - I am thinking of replacing a hawthorn bush with a muhly grass plant or two in an edged area with river rock cover in Plano, texas. It is the black soil and not a sandy loam. We have a sprinkler syst...
view the full question and answer

Do flowers on century plants grow century plants from Huachuca City AZ
September 06, 2013 - The flowers on century plants: can they "grow" century plants?
view the full question and answer

Cold hardiness of Liatris bulbs
October 05, 2009 - I live in Lexington KY - This spring I planted Liatris or Blazing Stars. Should I take up the bulbs and replant in spring or leave them in the ground?
view the full question and answer

Cultivation of Gossypium hirsutum, Upland Cotton
February 08, 2006 - I got a cotton boll (seeds and all) at a spinning workshop. I spun the cotton and the lady who brought the cotton boles said the seeds could be planted and the plant could be grown in a container on ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.