En Espa—ol

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
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
2 ratings

Tuesday - November 01, 2011

From: Flower Mound, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Seeds and Seeding, Soils, Wildflowers
Title: Growing bluebonnets in pot in Flower Mound TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We received a package of bluebonnet seeds along with the DVD Wildflowers: Seeds of History as a gift. In the film, Andrea DeLong mentions that bluebonnets did not grow well in a rich organic soil. What type of soil do you recommend we use to grow bluebonnets in small pots? When do you recommend the seeds be planted?


As you can see from this USDA Plant Profile MapLupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) grows naturally in Denton and Tarrant Counties,so we are betting the dirt where you are would work just fine. We believe your area could be considered the Cross Timbers and Prairies. We used to garden there, and we can tell you, there is a very confusing mix of soils in that area. Here is the description from our webpage on the Texas Bluebonnet of the soils in which it will grow:

"Limestone/chalky, Sandy Loam, Limestone-based, Calcareous, Sandy, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche"

We agree with the statement made by our Director of Horticulture that the bluebonnet neither requires nor likes rich soils, which is probably why it does so well in Texas. This means that buying potting soil at the nursery for your containers of bluebonnets is going to be counter-productive. We are guessing that at least some of your soil is clay, which can mean poor drainage, so we suggest you mix up your own potting soil. Dig enough out of the ground to fill however many pots you plan to use. Mix in some decomposed granite, sand, even compost to improve the drainage in the pot. And don't fertilize, native plants don't need fertilizer because they are accustomed to the climate and dirt in which they already grow. Then, read our How-To Articles: How to Articles How to Grow Bluebonnets and Container Gardening with Native Plants.



From the Image Gallery

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Failure to come up of blackeyed susans in Lancaster PA
June 28, 2009 - My blackeyed susans have been blooming for ten years. All of a sudden this year they didn't come up at all..why?
view the full question and answer

Low, Easy Care Perennials for Lake Ontario Shore Planting
October 04, 2015 - I'm on Lake Ontario in New York. I have a lake bank slope, thatís about 1/8 mile long and about 40 feet high, and is on about a 40 degree angle. It is very hard to keep clear. The bank has just been ...
view the full question and answer

Scarifying seeds of evergreen sumacs from Lockhart TX
May 19, 2013 - Dear Smarty Plants, We would like to grow our own evergreen sumacs. Consulting Nokes book, How to Grow Native Plants on page 310, it says to scarify fresh uncleaned seeds for 30-45 minutes. On page...
view the full question and answer

Nimblewill grass for a shady area in Dallas
April 04, 2013 - i have a very shady backyard and reading some of your post I think Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) will survive. Two questions: Is it drought resistant? Where can I buy the seeds?
view the full question and answer

Milkweed Seedlings Source for Austin, Texas
March 18, 2013 - Where can I find seedlings or four inch pots of common milkweed? I have a backyard garden that is mostly filtered sunlight and space for them.
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center