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

Saturday - April 25, 2009

From: McHenry, IL
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Transplants, Wildflowers
Title: Bluebonnets in pots in New Caney, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My mother in New Caney (Texas), would like to plant Bluebonnets in some lovely terra cotta containers on her porch (and will hopefully mail me some dried pressings of my beloved state flower). Other than putting Rhizobium on the seedlings before sowing (does it matter how much she puts on the seeds), is there any particular potting soil type she should use? Anything she should add to the soil, like sand or any particular plant food?

ANSWER:

We would like you and/or your mother to read two of our How-To Articles, Container Gardens with Native Plants and How to Grow Bluebonnets. These both have very good, very complete instructions. Because a commercial potting soil will already have nutrients in it, you don't need to add fertilizer. These plants are used to coming up and blooming without fertilizer, special watering or any maintenance. With all the tender loving care your mother is giving them, they should flourish.

Since we get asked this sort of question A LOT, we'll save some time by quoting from a previous answer, which also refers you to the same How-To Article, but summarizes the process. This is discussing moving bluebonnets from a planter to the soil, but also explains the timing and process of the seeds being distributed.

Bluebonnets  Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet)  are described as winter annuals; they germinate in the fall, form rosettes and overwinter, then flower in the spring. The plants that you have are just about at the peak of their flowering, so transplanting at this point would probably be counter productive as they could suffer transplant shock. However,you might just move the planter to the area where you want the bluebonnets to grow before the seedpods mature.  When mature, your bluebonnet legumes will burst open, slinging the seeds quite some distance in a seed-dispersal strategy known as explosive dehiscence.  Many plants employ this method of seed dispersal.  If you cannot move the planter, you may want to enclose it somehow (not with plastic, which would cook the plants) to capture the catapulting seeds.  You can also pull them, roots and all, from the planter just as the seedpods are turning brown and put them in closed paper grocery bags.  You'll be able to hear them popping inside the bag for days or weeks.  When they're finished popping, remove the seeds from the bottom of the bag and compost the plants and paper bags.  The seeds can then be planted wherever you would like to plant them either right away or in the fall following the instructions in our How-to article.

Another good source of information is The Texas Bluebonnet by J. Andrews. See Bibliography.

 


Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

 

 

 

 

More Transplants Questions

Leaves falling off live oak tree in Eureka TX
August 22, 2009 - I have the same question; it is in Navarro County in August. The leaves are falling off my live oak tree, they are brownish yellow, but it is not oak wilt. What might it be? This year I put mulch arou...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Lime Prickly Ash in Austin
March 22, 2010 - We found only one small what we think is Zanthoxylum fagara or Lime Prickly Ash, Colima on our 8 acres, and the deer had apparently recently broken the main stem. I quickly made 6 or 7 cuttings, dippe...
view the full question and answer

Care for large trumpet vine in Hugo MN
June 09, 2010 - I was recently given a large Trumpet vine that has been growing in the same place for the last 25 years.I have replanted it and given it a large trellis to grow on.I live in central Minnesota. My ques...
view the full question and answer

Wild plum tree failing to bloom from Simonton TX
May 04, 2013 - I have a wild plum tree that has been in the ground for 3 or 4 years and it has not ever flowered. Why? I don't know what kind it is. I dug it up from a friends yard. Her wild plum trees have flowere...
view the full question and answer

Wrapping a newly planted non-native Japanese maple from Fraser MI
October 01, 2013 - Does a newly planted Japanese maple need to be wrapped in burlap for the cold and snowy winter of Macomb County, Michigan?
view the full question and answer

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