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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - May 30, 2011

From: Kyle, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Re-blooming bluebonnets in May in Kyle TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My bluebonnets in flower bed bloomed beautifully this spring. Now it is late May and they bloomed again. Why is this? I never saw these flowers bloom twice in a season.

ANSWER:

We assume you are not complaining, just trying to figure out what's going on. Full disclosure: We don't know, either, and we actually did some research trying to see if anyone else had encountered and/or explained it. In our line of business, when all else fails, blame the weather. We had about as weird a Spring as we can remember, and that has to top some pretty weird years. During the prime time of bluebonnet bloom we had some blazing hot days and then, almost suddenly, overnight temperatures near freezing in some parts of Central Texas. And, of course, the drought has rapidly gone from "about the usual" to "simply awful."

In our How-To Article Bluebonnets you learn that bluebonnets have a very tough, hard coat that protects the seed in the ground from animals and insects devouring them and allows them to lie dormant for several years without losing viability. We're guessing that, possibly because of the drought and heat, some of the bluebonnet rosettes that appeared in your garden in January did not put on bloom. No bloom, no seed. To reproduce itself is the Prime Directive of every plant, so when we had those cold snaps, a little rain and some warming up, something way down in the genetic code of those rosettes that had not bloomed, or maybe even some that had, said "It's Time!!" There is no way of tracking which plants cast seeds that in turn come up the next year or the next or..... But the plant's reproductive system has done its part to see to it that our beautiful bluebonnets are not going to be extinct.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

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