Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
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

Smarty Plants on earliest blooming wildflowers
November 19, 2004 - For Spring, what are the earliest blooming wild flowers and when do they typically bloom? I know it's terribly early to be predicting these things, but any idea if the 2005 Bluebonnet crop in Austi...
view the full question and answer

New York City Native Perennials for a Long Growing Season
May 31, 2013 - Which native New York City perennials would be best for the longest growing season?
view the full question and answer

Rows of red, white and blue flowers in Kerrville, TX
January 16, 2009 - I have 1/3 acre project on the Guadalupe river in Kerrville Tx. I want to plant 3 rows, of red, white and blue flowers that are at best deer resistant. I have added 84 yards of lake btms (Ingram Lake...
view the full question and answer

Purchase of Galphimia angustifolia from Austin
June 08, 2014 - I have a Thryallis, Galphimia augustifolia, or Thryallis autustifolia, growing from a limestone ledge in my yard in west Austin TX. I have tried unsuccessfully to buy this native. Do you sell it at t...
view the full question and answer

Planning a park along a railroad track in Williamston, SC
May 14, 2008 - We have a railroad track in Williamston, and we are cleaning up the park. Removing trees, planting flowers,shrubs. The track is on high ground and the Fire Dept. has burnt off the weeds. What kind of...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.