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
2 ratings

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."


Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

 

 

More Wildflowers Questions

More on bluebonnets
May 12, 2005 - My bluebonnet plants have seed pods (I guess they are, they look like pods of snap peas). Can I collect these or do I just leave them alone and hope they multiply? If I can collect them, what is the ...
view the full question and answer

Planting bluebonnets on UT Campus in Austin
January 07, 2012 - Hello! I am with a student organization on the University of Texas campus. Walking around campus, I have noticed the lack of the state flower of Texas, the bluebonnet. Our organization is hoping ...
view the full question and answer

Need to Control Giant Ragweed in Wildflower Field in Austin, Texas
December 11, 2010 - I have an acre pond around my business park planted with several different kinds of wildflowers. I let all the vegetation grow until the first frost, because I have wildflowers that grow throughout ...
view the full question and answer

What is wrong with the bluebonnets?
April 04, 2008 - This doesn't seem to be a very good year for bluebonnets. What's up with that?
view the full question and answer

Healthy native plants supporting local economy from Tacoma Park MD
February 17, 2012 - I am collecting information on how healthy native plant communities can support the local economy. Do you think the Texas bluebonnets are a good example of this in Texas? For example, do you know ma...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center