En EspaŅol

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?

Share

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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - February 10, 2013

From: Amarillo, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Wildflowers
Title: Buying bluebonnet plants for project in Amarillo TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is there anywhere I can buy some bluebonnet plants by March 1, 2013 for a school project? We are growing some, but they are just up.

ANSWER:

At least around Austin, you can usually find some in bloom in pots in large commercial nurseries like Home Depot, and we have even seen them for sale on the front porch of grocery stores. We can guarantee neither availability nor endurance of the plants in pots in either case.

We love school projects on wildflowers, but you are suffering from a couple drawbacks. The first is, as you can see from this USDA Plant Profile Map, Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) do not grow natively anywhere close to Potter County.

We suggest you read the descriptions of the climate and soils in the Texas Rolling Plains as well as this one of the High Plains. Amarillo is right about on the border of the two.  Then go to this plant link Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) and read the growing conditions for bluebonnets:

"Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Limestone/chalky, Sandy Loam, Limestone-based, Calcareous, Sandy, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche
Conditions Comments: Not only does the state flower of Texas bloom oceans of blue, but this famous wildflower forms attractive rosettes in winter. This is the species often used by highway departments and garden clubs. If planting this species in areas where it has not formerly grown, it may be helpful to inoculate the soil with a rhizobium (soil-borne bacteria which form nitrogen-rich root nodules) for lupines."

This flower is an annual, which means it blooms fast, makes seeds that can last several seasons in the soil and dies. A potted blooming bluebonnet might not last long enough to even set seeds. If you do find some potted blooming plants, try to wait until the last minute to buy them, so they will last through your project on March 1. The rosettes you have might surprise you by starting to put on blooms sooner than you expect them, but they might not. It's colder in Amarillo than it is in the parts of Texas where the bluebonnets grow wild. All we know to do is wish you luck.

After this member of the Smarty Plants team published this answer, another member of the team with sharper eyes noted that Lupinus plattensis (Nebraska lupine) grows in Hartley County, Texas, near Potter County, as shown in this USDA Plant Profile Map. Lupinus plattensis (Nebraska lupine), like Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), is one of 5 or 6 members of the genus Lupinus considered the state flower of Texas. So, possibly that is what you are growing in Potter County, in which case they have a better chance of surviving. This lupinus is perennial. We have added a picture below of the Nebraska Lupine in case you feel that is what you are growing. Whether that would be the plant that is grown and sold in pots in Amarillo, if any, we have no idea.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Nebraska lupine
Lupinus plattensis

More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Smarty Plants on Kokias
January 27, 2005 - I am searching for seeds of different Kokias (Kokia cookei, K. drynariodes and K. kauaiensis) and Thespesias (Thespesia grandiflora, T. thespesioides, T. nerifolia and T. popul...
view the full question and answer

Purchase sources of Buffalograss from Corpus Christi TX
March 17, 2012 - I've heard a lot of good things about Buffalograss, but no one in my area seems to carry it. One grower actually told me it didn't grow well here and recommended St. Augustine Floratam instead. Is ...
view the full question and answer

Will Copper Canyon Daisy be at the Plant Sale from Georgetown TX
March 21, 2011 - Can you find out if Copper Canyon Daisy will be sold at the plant sale? I'm having trouble finding it in any of your databases. The scientific name is Asteraceae Tagetes lemmonii. It's a shrubby ...
view the full question and answer

Deadwood for Degus
February 01, 2013 - I have a very specific and hopefully easy question. I just brought home some degus (small adorable rodents) and they have a severely restricted list of woods they can chew on safely. The safe trees th...
view the full question and answer

Willows native to Wisconsin
July 01, 2005 - I have a small garden center in the far northern reaches of Wisconsin....and I specialize in native varieties for up here. I also help folks with lake shore restoration and preservation. There was...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center