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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 - July 30, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Wildflowers
Title: Bluebonnet rosettes in July from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr S.P.: Please solve my bluebonnet summer mystery! I established about 1500 sq feet of bluebonnets starting four years ago by scavenging seeds here and there and just scattering in the spring. I live just a few miles West of the Wildflower center, btw. My bluebonnet patch has performed nicely and I had an epic bloom this spring. Here’s my puzzle: I have hundreds of them that have germinated into rosettes here this July. In the past few years the germination has been on schedule in September and October as you’d expect. Can you tell me what’s going on and what hope these plants have of surviving? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Fear not! Nature and your bluebonnets have not lost their minds. Central Texas got no rain and few bluebonnets last year, Winter rain and zillions of bluebonnets this year. Bluebonnets are survivors; some of those rosettes that you are seeing now will very likely put on a few blooms because their First Directive is to go forth and propagate. Leaves, blooms and seeds. But still in the ground, and still viable, are many, many more seeds that have been waiting their chance, sometimes for several years, to come up and do their thing. Even if those rosettes don't manage to produce some seeds before it gets too cold for them, you will still get more rosettes, seeds and flowers beginning in late December or early January. Bluebonnets have graced Texas through droughts and floods and fires for thousands of years, with no help from anxious gardeners or Mr. Smarty Plants. Darn it, we do love to be needed.

Please read our How-To Article on How to Grow Bluebonnets, just for reassurance, but it sounds like you're doing just fine. You know what you've been doing? Keep doing it.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

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