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 Wildflowers Questions

Orientation of roots of Ranunculus
April 11, 2006 - I need to know how to plant "Ranunculus". I don't know which way to put the rhizomes/bulbs in the ground. Do they go flat side down or strange long tubular things upward ?
view the full question and answer

List of most popular wildflowers in Texas Hill Country from Austin
January 15, 2011 - Can you please tell me the top 10 wildflowers found in the Texas hill country..by numbers, not popularity?
view the full question and answer

Seeds of mayflower
May 03, 2005 - Although I now live in Virginia, I grew up in eastern South Dakota. Several years ago while visiting SD I was walking in the pasture and noticed that many of the wild mayflowers (pasqueflowers) had ...
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
April 05, 2006 - Hello: We have been told that the sparse Bluebonnet appearance this Spring is due to sparse rainfall at the appropriate times. Were there fewer seeds to sprout and grow? Or are the seeds still ...
view the full question and answer

When the bluebonnets bloom
January 31, 2003 - Can you tell me when the bluebonnets are in bloom?
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