En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Monday - January 17, 2011

From: Stanford, CA
Region: California
Topic: Seasonal Tasks, Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: Raising bluebonnets in Stanford CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm a Houston girl now living in Northern California (Stanford). I would like to know if I need to adjust my growing timing for lupinus texensis? Mostly, I want to know when I should actually put the seeds in the ground. Thanks from out West.

ANSWER:

Sorry, you can lead a seed to dirt, but you cannot make it grow. Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is endemic to Texas, although there has been some success in growing it in Florida, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Inside every seed there are millennia of genetic coding that say "grow here, not there." For more information, see our How-To Article on Bluebonnets.

There are so many different factors that cause this that some have probably not been identified yet. From our Native Plant Database on the Texas bluebonnet, here are the Growing Conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Limestone/chalky, Sandy Loam, Limestone-based, Calcareous, Sandy, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche"

Even though the Texas bluebonnet is an icon of Texas, there are many parts of that state, including Houston, where it does not voluntarily grow as you will see from this USDA Plant Profile map.

So, much as we would love to know that our beautiful state flower was growiing in fields in California, we don't want to raise your hopes. If you are in the mood to experiment, and have a small space in which to do it, you could try getting some seeds, putting them in a sunny space in October, and see what happens. They are very particular about their dirt, fix nitrogen in the soil and, generally speaking, do not grow where bluebonnets have not grown before.

On the other hand, it would be more satisfying, or at least less frustrating, to grow wildflowers native to California, including 38 members of the Lupinus genus, some of which look very like the Texas version. You probably need to decide if you want to make a statement or make a garden.

Some members of the Lupinus genus native to the Santa Clara County area:

Lupinus bicolor (Miniature lupine)

Lupinus excubitus (Grape soda lupine)

Lupinus latifolius (Broadleaf lupine)

Lupinus nanus (Ocean-blue lupine)

Of the pictures below, the first 3 are early stages of the Texas bluebonnet, in case you get it to grow. The last 4 are of lupines similar to Texas bluebonnets native to the Santa Clara County area:

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Miniature lupine
Lupinus bicolor

Grape soda lupine
Lupinus excubitus

Broadleaf lupine
Lupinus latifolius

Ocean-blue lupine
Lupinus nanus

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Screen of Thuja Occidentalis on fire-damaged property in Bastrop TX
May 04, 2013 - I want to plant a screen of Thuja Occidentalis on the east side of our driveway. It is in the burn area of Bastrop, TX. None of our trees survived. Will Thuja Occidentalis grow here? I saw some specim...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnet seeds north of Chicago
March 11, 2008 - Hi My husband is originally from Texas - we now live north of Chicago. Last year he bought a whole bunch of Blue bonnet seeds from a company that said they would grow in our area... I planted enough ...
view the full question and answer

Mail order source for Guaiacum angustifolium from Ft. Worth TX
April 16, 2014 - Do you have a mail order source for the seeds of Guaiacum angustifolium? I have looked extensively and cannot find one. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

When to Collect Rudbeckia triloba Seed?
September 13, 2014 - How soon after flowering may I cut Rudbeckia triloba flower heads to save seeds? Do cones need to be attached to the plant in or out of the ground to continue to mature?
view the full question and answer

Transplanting and germination of Pride of Barbados in Adkins, TX
April 02, 2012 - What is the root system like of the Pride of Barbados? I have a lot of new plants coming up in my beds from seeds. Can these be transplanted to a new location easily without damaging the plants? If...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center