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Mr. Smarty Plants - Rhizobium Source for Bluebonnets

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Monday - December 20, 2010

From: Aubrey, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Rhizobium Source for Bluebonnets
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Trying to find a source for rhizobium for bluebonnets.

ANSWER:

I think it’s a corollary to Murphys Laws that the simplest questions are often the hardest!

If you search through the “Mr. Smarty Plants” archives for Bluebonnets [a topic all by itself], there are hundreds of questions with hundreds of answers!  Raising Bluebonnets has a specific “How-to” article and there is a FAQ on Rhizobium itself.

 When I went through those hundreds of questions/answers I found a Mr. Smarty Plants article that was published in the Houston Chronicle in 2008.   In it, they highlighted a previous answer that is almost exactly addressing your request. 

 Sadly, when I’m on the verge of declaring victory, all of the links and references come up dead.  :-(

 OK - backup plan – Google search revealed that there are lots of inoculants advertized for legumes of many various types and with lots of formulations and trade names, but none that I found were specifically for bluebonnets.  This gave me the names of suppliers of bluebonnet seeds and of legume inoculants though – so I just asked them.   With all of that, I have one reference that appears close => Becky at BBB Seed [Beauty Beyond Belief] found a link to the Gourmet Seed Company  that appears to offer one that may do the trick.    Note that the inoculant is based on Rhizobium leguminosarum viceae agnd phaseoli(sic) and bradyrhizobium biovar sp. [Whew]  The concern here is that most inoculants, including Rhizobium, are species-specific, which means that you cannot use any one inoculant for every legume, i.e., this one may or may not work. Still it’s the best I could find this time around.


 Question – Consider whether you really need an inoculant?    The “How-to” article on Bluebonnet states “Many soils already have naturally occurring Rhizobium, which makes finding a source of Rhizobium and applying it unnecessary. One way to determine whether Rhizobium inoculation has occurred is to look at the roots of an established plant. If there are nodules (small, rounded lumps containing nitrogen-fixing bacteria) on the roots, the bluebonnets have been inoculated by the bacteria.”    If your area around Aubrey has had bluebonnets in the past, it may well be that the Rhizobium is already present in the soil.  So an alternate option is to just give it a go!  One bit of good advice we received is: When you sow the bluebonnets, double the amount of seeds recommended for the area you are planting.  That way, when the conditions are right they will really come up!

 Lupinus texensis    Lupinus texensis    Lupinus texensis

 

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