En EspaÑol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - How and when to harvest bluebonnets.

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
7 ratings

Friday - April 30, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Best of Smarty, Propagation, Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: How and when to harvest bluebonnets.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

A previous answer mentioned harvesting bluebonnet seeds by pulling up the whole plant when the seed pods turn brown. Two clarifications - when do the seed pods turn brown as these plants are hard to find with no flowers so need to know how long I have to remember where they are before being able to harvest. Also, do I need to pull the whole plant as suggested or can just the pods be harvested. Thanks!

ANSWER:

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) seeds ripen in Central Texas between mid-May and mid-June. 

It's usually pretty hard to miss seeing bluebonnets that are going to seed since the most often rise above most of the surrounding vegetation and they make the area where they're growing rather messy-looking and unkempt.  In some cases, later-flowering plants like Coreopsis and Indian Blanket can obscure them.

Many people pull their bluebonnet plants as they are yellowing or turning brown and hang them upside down to dry in a place where the falling seeds (ejected, actually) can be gathered.  When the seedpods are fully mature and dry, they split open along a suture and the small, hard seeds are ejected quite some distance - a clever natural strategy for spreading the seed to new areas.

You can pick only the seed pod of your bluebonnets, but you'll want to wait until they are dry before doing so.  By waiting, you run the risk of the seedpods already being empty by the time you're ready to harvest.

If you simply wish to have another bluebonnet display in the same location next year, just let your plants go to seed naturally and mow or otherwise remove the dead plants afterward.  Since bluebonnets form nitrogen-fixing nodules on the roots, leaving the roots intact will improve the soil.  Alternatively, you can pull the plants to collect the seeds and later compost the plants to help create a really rich soil amendment.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

More Propagation Questions

Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) frost tolerance, making cuttings
October 08, 2007 - Dear Madam or Sir, It would be very kind, if you could answer my questions about the “Thuja Plicata atrovirens” alias “Western Red Cedar”. I need the information because a good friend of mine ...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Texas bluebells from seed
July 29, 2008 - I have a few Texas Bluebell seeds. I would like to grow these in my yard. What would be the best place..pot or flower bed? When should I plant? How to maintain?
view the full question and answer

Planting Texas Mountain Laurel seeds in Horse Shoe Bay,TX
July 09, 2012 - I have harvested Texas Mountain Laurel pods and extracted the seeds from the pods. The seeds are characteristic red/orange/maroon. When is the best time and best method to introduce seeds into pots? ...
view the full question and answer

Seed source for Carex texensis from Louisville KY
May 02, 2012 - Your reply to my question re a grass for my Kentucky home with cistern only water available was much appreciated, Carex texensis was recommended. I am unable to find this product for sale other than ...
view the full question and answer

Seed collection from rain lilies
May 14, 2008 - Hello, I have some rain lilies growing in our yard. I've collected some seed heads, but am not sure what steps to take now. They were all off of broken stems (the dogs are not as cautious as I am...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center