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Mr. Smarty Plants - More on bluebonnets

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Friday - July 01, 2005

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: More on bluebonnets
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I've seen several recommendtions for using a Bluebonnet Inoculant when planting Bluebonnets. "For best success, we strongly suggest using Bluebonnet inoculant (to assist in fixing nitrogen into soil and making a healthier plant)." Where can I find this inoculant? I don't see any reference to it in seed catalogs etc.

ANSWER:

First, if you bought your bluebonnet seeds, they may have already been inoculated. If so, then you don't need to apply more. The bacterium Rhizobium is the inoculant specific for bluebonnets and other members of the genus Lupinus. Some soils already have naturally occurring Rhizobium present. If that is so, then you wouldn't need to inoculate your seeds. You can determine if your soil has Rhizobium by looking at the roots of one of the bluebonnets growing there. If the bacterium is present, the roots will have rounded bumps, called nodules, growing on them that contain the bacterium.

You may be able to find the inoculant at local nurseries. To find a list of local nurseries that specialize in native plants in your area, visit the National Suppliers Directory on the Wildflower Center web page. The Native Plant Society of Texas on their web page also has a list of native plant nurseries as does the Texas Parks & Wildlife web page. If you can't find any locally, you might try other cities or other areas. For instance, checking the nurseries in the Midwest, I found one, Prairie Moon Nursery in Winona, Minnesota, that has Lupinus (bluebonnet) inoculant for sale in its online store.

If you haven't already found it, there is a 2-page PDF article pertaining to growing bluebonnets in the Native Plant Library on the Wildflower Center web page that you might find useful.
 

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