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Mr. Smarty Plants - Planting bluebonnets on UT Campus in Austin

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Saturday - January 07, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Planting, Wildflowers
Title: Planting bluebonnets on UT Campus in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello! I am with a student organization on the University of Texas campus. Walking around campus, I have noticed the lack of the state flower of Texas, the bluebonnet. Our organization is hoping to plant bluebonnets in a couple areas around campus as a beautification project if we can get University approval. I'll be the first to admit I am no expert in wildflowers, but we think this could be a really neat project. My question is: Can you purchase already sprouted or grown bluebonnets from a nursery and replant them? I know the time to plant actual seeds is late fall/early winter and this has already passed, and we were hoping to get this started this semester. Any help you could give would be much appreciated.

ANSWER:

We agree that would be a good project for your organization to plant Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), if you can overcome the difficulty with the planting time. We are also a part of the University of Texas system, and always glad to promote the use of native plants anywhere.  We suggest you contact Janet Reed with UT landscape services - janet.reed@cpfm.utexas.edu.

Our Nursery Manager, Sean Watson, says that you can possibly get bluebonnet bedding plants, small rosettes right now, at Home Depot; he didn't know of any other local nursery that sold anything but seeds for bluebonnets. We do know that there are blooming bluebonnets, in season, on sale at several places in town including grocery stores. These won't live long after planting-they are annuals, and the best you could do with plants like that is get them in the ground, harvest seeds in late Summer, and replant them in October. It's pretty expensive, per plant, to do it that way. And, because they are annuals, if they can't be left in place where you plant them to reseed themselves, they will not come back up next year. From our National Suppliers Directory, here is a list of nurseries in the Austin area that carry a lot of native plants. All have contact information so that you could find out if they have or will have the rosettes for sale this year:

Nurseries

Name Location % Native Associate
Utility Research Garden Austin, TX 25   
Landscape Mafia Austin, TX 75  Yes 
PlantEscape Gardens Austin, TX 100  Yes 
Barton Springs Nursery Austin, TX 50   
Chisos Gardens Austin, TX   Yes 
Pots & Plants Garden Center Austin, TX 50   

Now, to get back to your project, we have an excellent How-To Article on How to Grow Bluebonnets that should help if your project becomes an ongoing one. We want to mention, in terms of your not seeing many bluebonnets on campus, there is only about a two-month window during which they will bloom, usually March and April. They need full sun, and alkaline soil. If your Landscape Department clears out the beds for subsequent plantings, those bluebonnets will not come back, but will have to be replanted every year.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

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