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?


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
3 ratings

Tuesday - May 17, 2011

From: Maitland, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Growing bluebonnets from seed in Maitland FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Can I grow bluebonnets from seed in Maitland? The soil is quite sandy, and I do have sunny, dry places to grow them. Are there any special requirements necessary away from their native habitat?


There are a number of different members of the Lupinus genus that are referred to as bluebonnets, and six of them are all considered the state flower of Texas. However, the one usually thought of as the classic is Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet). This plant is endemic to Texas, meaning that it grows natively nowhere else, and even in Texas, mostly only grows in the Edwards Plateau and the blackland prairies. According to this USDA Plant Profile map, one county in north central Florida has had some planted bluebonnets come up; we have no idea if they are still there, nor is this close to Orange County FL, on the east central Florida coast. We are asked this same question so often (for many other states and even countries), we hope you will forgive us for quoting 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:

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"

In terms of special requirements away from their native habitat; frankly, they really don't grow out of their native habitat. Your soils are probably pretty acidic, which bluebonnets don't like, and changing the soil pH is usually successful only temporarily, at best.

Please read this previous Mr. Smarty Plants question on growing bluebonnets in the Southeast (Georgia in this case). And how about pollination? Read this article from Texas Bee Watchers, which lists the bees that pollinate the bluebonnet. Do you think you have those bees in Florida? We don't know, we don't keep track of bees, they are kind of moody and don't like to be counted, but they are also very particular about what they pollinate.

There are 54 species of Lupinus native to North America, of which 5 are native to Florida. We took a look at some of these to see what the chances were you could grow one of them. Lupinus perennis (Sundial lupine) is native to the Florida Panhandle, according to this USDA Plant profile map. Lupinus villosus (Lady lupine) comes a little closer to Orange County, but still does not grow on the eastern coast of Florida.

The reason that we recommend only plants native to a specific area be planted in that area is that so much in resources-chemical fertilizers, money to buy seeds, water and labor-can be expended on a non-native that probably will not thrive.


From the Image Gallery

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Sundial lupine
Lupinus perennis

Lady lupine
Lupinus villosus

More Wildflowers Questions

Smoky Mountains Shaded Slope Plant Suggestions
April 29, 2013 - We live in a very shady spot in Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. We would like to plant vegetation on a sloped area behind our cottage to stop erosion after building an addition. Our h...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower seed for west central Texas acreage
June 06, 2005 - We have a ranch in central Texas between Brownwood and Brady and want to plant wildflowers that will grow in that area. We'd like to cover acreage and need information on what mix would suit our are...
view the full question and answer

Help for Collapsing Tradescantia
August 14, 2013 - My tradescantia has completely collapsed at the crown. The stems are yellowish. This happened once before when I had it planted in full sun and I just had to discard it. This time I have one plante...
view the full question and answer

Best time to plant wildflowers
April 22, 2007 - I am in charge of the construction of a 3-4 mile nature trail around our organization's property and was wondering, 'when is it best to plant wildflowers?
view the full question and answer

Need information about broadcasting wildflower seeds in a pasture 70 miles east of Dallas, TX.
April 20, 2011 - We recently moved to upper east TX - 70 miles East of Dallas. I would like to broadcast wildflowers in our pasture. I'm assuming I'll need to wait until next fall, but not sure about that. Can you t...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center