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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - May 25, 2010

From: Snellville, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Can I grow Texas bluebonnets in Georgia?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Being a native Texan, my mom loves bluebonnets. We live in Georgia, however so I am wondering if I planted some bluebonnets in her yard would they grow? What are the best conditions for bluebonnets (if I need to prep her soil or create a raised bed for the bluebonnets). Thanks!

ANSWER:

Being a native Georgian living in Texas, I understand.

First, I have to say that growing plants outside their native range is in direct opposition to the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  And there are very good reasons for discouraging the importation of exotic species, weed and pest, and disease issues probably top the list.  We know that Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) will not become an invasive species or even a weed in Georgia, but that is not necessarily the case with all species.  Pests and diseases are another matter.  We would be mortified to learn that a serious pest or disease made its way to Georgia from Texas carried by native wildflowers.

Now that I've described some of the reasons why it's not a very good idea to grow bluebonnets in Georgia, I'm going to tell you what will happen if you actually do.  My father, who lives in Georgia, took some seeds back home from a visit to Texas, prepared a bed by adding LOTS of lime and sowed the seeds.  The first year after sowing no bluebonnets appeared, but for the next two years he had a nice display of them from the seed sown that first year.  Bluebonnet seeds can remain viable in the soil for years.  Eventually the little patch of bluebonnets died out as the soil became more and more acidic.

 

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