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Sunday - April 10, 2011

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


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.


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

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