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
1 rating

Monday - May 03, 2010

From: Reynoldsburg, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Can Texas bluebonnets grow in Reynoldsburg Ohio?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am a transplanted Texan now living in Central Ohio. I am tired of having to accept only pictures of the bluebonnets growing along the highways in Texas now and want to know if the weather is suitable in Central Ohio for seeding my yard with Bluebonnets. I see other species of lupines doing well..

ANSWER:

We feel your pain, but we're betting we can't do anything about it.

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is endemic to Texas, but some are grown through cultivation in Florida, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. They thrive on our alkaline soils, low moisture, lots of sun and sometimes very thin soil coating over limestone. In Central Texas, where we are located, they begin to show rosettes around Christmas, freshly sprouted from seeds sown either by the natural process of the mature seed pods basically exploding in early summer, or by gardeners in the fall. They bloom from late February to early April, according to the moisture and temperatures. Because of the hard protective coating on the seeds, they sometimes don't germinate for several years, waiting for rain and letting the earth around them wear down that coating.

In Central Ohio, you are in USDA Hardiness Zones 5a to 5b, which means that your average annual minimum temperatures are -20 to -10 deg. F. Since the bluebonnet is a winter annual, it will be trying to put out its rosettes during your coldest weather in January. Somehow, we don't think that's going to work.  

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends the propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. Plants growing where they are native will need less water, fertilizer and maintenance. Short of a very protected greenhouse environment, I don't think there is anything that would induce Texas bluebonnets to grow in Ohio. Another reason we encourage only native plants is that a plant out of place, with no natural impediments to its development, can become invasive and take over natural habitat. That seems hardly likely for bluebonnets in Ohio, but we always consider that.

So, let's talk about other species of lupinus which, as you say, grow in Ohio. We know it won't be the same, but it will be some consolation. And, guess what? Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine), which is native to Ohio, is also one of the six members of the Lupinus genus considered to be official Texas bluebonnets. Not only that, it's a perennial which you can plant in the Spring, and it will come up both from seeds and roots in the future. And it looks a whole lot like Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), too. Although this USDA Plant Profile only shows it growing in northern Ohio, we think it's worth a try in your location. Mr. Smarty Plants is very glad to have made this discovery, and we hope you enjoy your bluebonnets.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Lupinus perennis

Lupinus perennis

Lupinus perennis

Lupinus perennis

 

 

More Wildflowers Questions

More on bluebonnets
June 22, 2004 - When do the bluebonnets bloom in the Austin - San Antonio, Texas area?
view the full question and answer

Plants for the Shade of a Pine Tree in Pittsburg
June 03, 2013 - I live in Pittsburgh, PA. My neighbor has a huge pine tree. Last year everything I planted on that side near the tree died. That part of the yard only gets morning sun, as the tree overshadows it. Wha...
view the full question and answer

Plant Database for New Jersey
February 19, 2015 - How can I find out where certain plants will grow, for example, will Indian Mustard (Brassica juncea L.) grow in New Jersey?
view the full question and answer

Identification of Texas bluebell (Eustoma exaltatum)
June 27, 2006 - Very recently on the 6 o'clock news there was a report about The Center joining UT. There was a picture of a large, purple lily-like/trumpet flower with a yellow pistil. I recall my Grandmother call...
view the full question and answer

Legal to mow wildflowers in HOA in Royse City, TX
April 21, 2012 - We live out in the country in Rockwall County, Texas. Is it legal to mow the wildflowers on our 2 acre lots? The HOA documents we committed to require the homesites to be maintained, but there is di...
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