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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.

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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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Thursday - December 09, 2010

From: Nacogdoches, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: When will bluebonnets bloom in Texas this year from Nacogdoches, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

When can we expect to see bluebonnets blooming in Texas this year?

ANSWER:

"Expecting" to see bluebonnets and being promised bluebonnets at a particular time are two entirely different things. We can easily tell you approximately when bluebonnets normally bloom in your area in Texas. What Mr. Smarty Plants cannot do is promise you will see any bluebonnets at all or when. Texas wildflowers are adapted to living in the capricious weather of Texas-the long droughts, the flooding rains, the heat and sudden drops in temperature. They adapt by dropping their seeds on the ground in the Fall, the gentlest time of year for planting seeds. Then, they wait in that soil until warmth, rain and other conditions tell them it's time to germinate. This could be 60 days after the seeds drop, or 5 years. They will endure insect attacks, loss of fertility, even rotting but, because of the great number of seeds produced every year, some will survive to germinate, grow, bloom and make more seeds to continue the species.

According to this USDA Plant Profile on Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) they do not grow natively in Nacogdoches County. That doesn't mean they won't grow there, but does mean there may not be a native population to seed new generations. From our Native Plant Database page on this plant:

"Native Distribution: South central to north central Texas mainly in the Blackland Prairie and Edwards Plateau. Planted extensively along roadsides in Texas and Oklahoma, though endemic to Texas.
Native Habitat: Praires; open fields; roadsides"

In East Texas, the soils tend to be somewhat more acidic, which might inhibit growth of bluebonnets. However, if you just want to take a drive down Texas highways looking for bluebonnets, we can tell you that the rosettes for the plants begin to appear before Christmas, and first blooms will begin in late February. Their official bloom times are March to May, slightly earlier to the south and later to the north. You will get much better information when the several websites that feature bluebonnets' blooming times begin to have information. From a previous answer:

"The Wildflower Center website always has information on what's blooming, and will have bluebonnet forecasts in the Spring. Several other groups provide information on sightings and routes for viewing wildflowers. One of these is Lonestar Internet, Inc. You can find more routes and information at the Johnson City TX Wildflower Loop web site. DeWitt County offers its own wildflower site as does Brenham, Texas in Washington County. On the Brenham page, select "Visitor Information", then "Nature Watch" to find their information on wildflowers. We went in and checked all these sites, and it is apparently too early for anyone to be predicting; everyone is in the same predicament we are, as in "who knows?" Keep checking those sites, and as the situation develops, there will start being more specific information, hopefully, information that the bluebonnets have miraculously pulled a great blooming season out of their hats."

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis

Lupinus texensis


 

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