En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Taking bluebonnets to Anchorage AK from Sealy TX

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 10, 2010

From: Sealy, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Wildflowers
Title: Taking bluebonnets to Anchorage AK from Sealy TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Moving to Anchorage Alaska from Texas and I am bringing bluebonnet seeds to plant there. Will the moose eat these plants/flowers?

ANSWER:

We were in Anchorage just about this time last year (early June), and saw many beautiful members of the Lupinus genus that, had we not known better, would have thought they were Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), What we did not see were moose roaming the streets and grocery shopping in yards, which is a good thing. If a grown moose comes into your vicinity, you have much worse things to worry about than your flowers. They are LARGE and not very good-natured. Also, all members of the Lupinus genus are poisonous, and the moose have probably learned that, or have it in their genetic code or something.

While we were there, we visited the Museum in Anchorage (don't miss that) and purchased a copy of A Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, see Bibliography below.  As we took the train first to Seward and then to Denali, we saw many, many of these flowers along the rail tracks. One thing you need to know is that South Central Alaska is basically a swamp. It is very low in altitude, and there are rivers and seacoast that contribute to that. Their average high temperatures range from 21 in December to 64 in July. The Texas Bluebonnet is endemic to Texas, and as you can see from this USDA Plant Profile, it lives in areas that are far warmer.

Our Native Plants Database lists four members of the genus Lupinus native to Alaska: Lupinus arcticus (arctic lupine), Lupinus nootkatensis (Nootka lupine), Lupinus nootkatensis var. fruticosus (Nootka lupine) and Lupinus polyphyllus (bigleaf lupine). Of these, only Lupinus arcticus (arctic lupine) and Lupinus nootkatensis (Nootka lupine) are discussed in the book. Nootka lupine must have been what we were seeing, as Arctic lupine does not grow in the southern coastal areas.

So, let's compare growing conditions for the Texas Bluebonnet and the Nootka Lupine. 

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet)

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Limestone/chalky, Sandy Loam, Limestone-based, Calcareous, Sandy, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche 

Lupinus nootkatensis (Nootka lupine)

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Description: Gravelly soils. 

So, to answer your specific question: Will the moose eat your Texas bluebonnets? Don't much think so, especially since we are not at all sure they would even come up in the wrong soil, wrong climate, wrong seasons, different from what they are acclimated to over millennia. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. The Texas Bluebonnet is our poster plant for this practice. We recommend you go native in Alaska.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

Lupinus nootkatensis

Lupinus nootkatensis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Planting Questions

What to Plant Now feature?
July 20, 2010 - Would y'all at all consider having a "What To Plant Now" section" and/or a "What's Blooming Now" one. You are very generous with your information, but if I wanted to "go native", it seems tha...
view the full question and answer

Restoring fire damage in Bastrop TX
November 03, 2011 - I live in the Bastrop State Park area. We were severely affected by the wildfire and as we are trying to rebuild our home, we are being very aware of the particularities of the recovery process. We lo...
view the full question and answer

Perennials for flower bed in Humble TX
July 28, 2010 - I have a 10 foot by 10 foot flower bed that needs to be replanted and I am located in Houston, TX so what would be some good perennials to plant that are good to grow in this heat? I have been told L...
view the full question and answer

Propagating plant cuttings in cut potato from Columbia MO
June 26, 2012 - Hello. I belong to a garden group and one of the members posted a "tip" she found in an early 2000 garden magazine. I wanted to see if there was any truth to the tip? Basically the tip was to use...
view the full question and answer

Pecan trees too close together in Austin
August 14, 2012 - There are two pecan trees in my central Austin yard. Each is four or five inches diameter at chest height and maybe 15 feet tall. They are within six feet of each other and their canopies interfere wi...
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