En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - March 04, 2011

From: Atlanta, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: How to grow bluebonnets in Atlanta TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How can I grow bluebonnets in Atlanta Texas?

ANSWER:

If "How can I grow bluebonnets where they don't normally grow" is not the most frequently asked question of Mr. Smarty Plants, it's right up there.

Whether you can grow them in the somewhat acidic soil of far northeast Texas probably depends on how hard you want to work on it, and how long you want the blooming plants to reproduce in the same space. There are 6 species of Lupinus that grow natively in Texas, and by act of the Legislature, if it's growing in Texas, it's a Texas bluebonnet and our State Flower. Two of those six, Lupinus perennis (Sundial lupine) and Lupinus subcarnosus (Sandyland bluebonnet) grow in parts of southeast Texas, but not way up where you are. Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is probably what you want, and this USDA Plant Profile of that flower shows that they grow near, but not in, Cass County, TX.

This  Previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on growing bluebonnets out of their native range, including soil modification, etc. talks about personal experience trying to grow Texas bluebonnet in an acidic soil. Another previous question on growing bluebonnets in California explains the reasons why out-of-area bluebonnets seldom prosper, and suggests some alternative members of the Lupinus genus that are native to California.

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is endemic to Texas, although there has been some success in growing it in Florida, Louisiana and Oklahoma. It grows best, and voluntarily, in the alkaline soils of Central Texas. Soils in East Texas have had the benefits of many years of leaves dropping to the ground, decomposing into the soil, creating acidity. This is great if you want to grow hydrangeas or magnolias; bluebonnets, not so much.

If you want to experiment, there is nothing to keep you from purchasing some Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) seeds, planting them in late Summer, in a sunny place, and see what happens. We will be interested to hear if you get bluebonnets and they persist, that is, make seeds and drop them, producing more plants from those seeds.

 

From the Image Gallery


Sandyland bluebonnet
Lupinus subcarnosus

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Establishing wildflowers on a slope in Virginia
August 18, 2012 - From Roanoke Virginia. I have a steep bank rising from one side of my driveway to woods above. Different areas vary from full sun, to half day shade. It is possible to carefully walk/stand on it, we a...
view the full question and answer

Growing Texas bluebonnets in North Carolina
March 11, 2008 - I live in North Carolina and love the Texas Bluebonnets. Can I create my own mix of soil to be able to grow them here? Soil is basically red clay and icky.
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Baptisia from Lancaster OH
August 24, 2012 - My Baptisia has gone to seed. When can I plant these seeds? Do they need strat? (zone 5)
view the full question and answer

Wildflower garden with Castilleja indivisa (Indian paintbrush)
January 08, 2013 - I want to start a wildflower garden in my front/backyard. Specifically, I would like to include the indian paintbrush. What is the best way to go about this? Straight in the ground, containers, etc...
view the full question and answer

Time to mow bluebonnets from Smithville TX
April 12, 2012 - When is the best time to mow the seeded Bluebonnets? I have them and Drummond Phlox in my front yard. I need to clean and trim to start pulling the large numbers of Purple Hooked Sandburr.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center