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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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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!

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Monday - July 09, 2012

From: Weatherford, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Identification, Propagation, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Lookink for bulbs of German Blue Bells in Weatherford, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I am searching for a plant that is called "German Blue Bells". They are tubular as seed. Like tiny iris only bands around the tubular. The flower looks like a morning glory with an off set bloom. The tube comes out and the flower off sets down. The leaves are dark green and have pointy fingers. The leaves are small to medium size.The flowers are dark vibrant purple. My grandmother gave me the tubulars and you dig them up each winter and replant them in the spring. They bloom all summer. They are a pot or yard plant - though I had little success in the yard here in Texas. I have never seen them in a nursery or catalog. My grandmother is dead and no one in the family has any tubulars left. Help Please!!!

ANSWER:

There are always problems when dealing with the common names of plants. Searching the web for German Blue Bells leads you to the species name Hyacinthoides non-scripta  which is also known as English Blue Bells. Does the picture of the plant resemble the German Blue Bells that you remember? This link   tells an interesting story about the history of the name of the plant. Although English Blue Bells are grown in the United States, they are non-natives and thus are outside our area of focus here at the Wildflower Center. This USDA distribution map  indicates that it doesn’t grow in Weatherford, TX. 
 
The term tubular when used with plants is an adjective that describes the shape of a flower, and has nothing to do with planting or propagation. You may be thinking of the term tuber which is an under ground stem that is found in potatoes. The Blue Bells have bulbs which are another type of underground stem that are planted to produce new plants.

The links below are to sites that sell bulbs for English Blue Bells.

Brent and Becky’s bulb.com

Whiteflowerfarm.com 

I hope this is the plant you are looking for.

 

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