Explore Plants

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
    
 

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
1 rating

Sunday - April 10, 2011

From: Fredericksburg, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Bluebonnets and paintbrush for Fredericksburg VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can I broadcast Texas bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush seeds, in Virginia, during early Spring and get germination; or, do I need to winterize and plant next spring.

ANSWER:

This is the kind of question we sometimes wish we could answer with "no, no, no and no." But that would be rude and we don't want you to have bad feelings about the Texas State Flower, so let us try to explain. Please begin by reading some of our How-To Articles: Gardening with Native Plants, How to Grow Bluebonnets. Next, please follow these links to our pages on Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) and  Castilleja indivisa (Entireleaf indian paintbrush). Also, from a previous 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."

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"

Castilleja indivisa (Entireleaf indian paintbrush) often grows with bluebonnets to draw on the nitrogen in the soil from the legume Lupinus and is the most likely of the Castilleja genus to share space with bluebonnets. Here are their Growing Conditions:

 

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Sandy soils. Sandy Loam, Sandy, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
Conditions Comments: The roots of this plant will grow until they touch the roots of other plants, frequently grasses, penetrating these host roots to obtain a portion of their nutrients. Transplanting paintbrush may kill it.

You can always try broadcasting some seeds of both whenever you choose, and see if anything comes up.  Bluebonnets are Winter annuals, which mean they are planted in the Fall, germinate in the earth, begin to show rosettes above ground around Christmas, and are blooming by the end of February. Is this going to happen in the east central coastal area of Virginia?

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

More Wildflowers Questions

School project picking wildflowers
March 16, 2009 - We have a Biology PreAp class in our high school that has their students do a wildflower project each year. The teacher gives the students a list of 25 wildflowers and the children have to locate, pi...
view the full question and answer

Blue vervain native to Indiana
January 06, 2003 - I have a species I need to know if it is native to my area (southern Indiana) - Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata)
view the full question and answer

Source for dotted blue-eyed grass from Saluda SC
February 23, 2013 - I lived in Texas for several years and now live on acreage in South Carolina. I have heard that bluebonnets don't grow well in South Carolina. However, there is a place by the road near our house t...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping in Bertram TX
September 25, 2009 - I have a landscaping job in Bertram, Texas and am looking for all my options as far as full and partial shade somewhat hardy plants. I'm mainly looking for small plants and pretty flowers I can do wi...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Echinacea paradoxa
July 01, 2005 - What kind of habitat (soil, sun, water etc) does Echinacea paradoxa like to live in?
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.