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Monday - May 04, 2009

From: Brenham, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: When to mow after bluebonnets bloom in Brenham, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Brenham, TX, and thanks to spreading 80 pounds of bluebonnet seeds last fall, we had a very small but promising showing of bluebonnets this March and April. The bluebonnets still appear to be alive and kicking as of May 2nd. My husband is getting itchy to mow the grass now that the bluebonnet viewing season is over. My question is this: should I prevent him from mowing until the bluebonnets look dead and gone? How will I know that they have gone to seed and it is fine to let him back on his big boy toy, the riding lawn mower?

ANSWER:

Please read our How-To Article How to Grow Bluebonnets. One of the things you should note is that, because of the very hard seed coat on bluebonnet seeds, you will probably get more flowers next year and thereafter from your first 80 pounds of seeds. In other words, they are waiting in the soil, and will be germinating in years to come. At the same time, your blooming plants will be seeding themselves. In answer to your question about when you can mow, here is an excerpt from that article:

"Do not mow until the plants have formed mature seedpods. Bluebonnet seeds usually mature six to eight weeks after flowering. When mature, the pods turn yellow or brown and start to dry. By mowing after the seeds have matured, you will allow the plants to reseed for next year."

If your husband is really chomping at the bit to get his tractor out, you might follow the advice from a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

"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.  You can pull them, roots and all, from the ground 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."

 

 

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