En Español

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?


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

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - January 09, 2007

From: London, Other
Region: Select Region
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: More on bluebonnets
Answered by: Joe Marcus


My wife has recently contacted and met relatives from Texas (her father was a war baby born in the 1940's). Her new found Aunt Sarah has kindly given me some Bluebonnet seeds to plant "a corner of Texas in England" please could you advise me as to how I should raise these in England.


We do not recommend the introduction of exotic species. To the contrary, we encourage people everywhere to discover and explore the beauty and usefulness of plants native to their own patch of earth. One of the reasons for discouraging the introduction of exotic species is the potential - often proven - of the exotics' escape and invasion in the new ecosystem. With that warning stated, we will admit that there is virtually no chance that Texas Bluebonnet, Lupinus texensis will escape from cultivation and run amok in Great Britain.

You may be able to grow Texas Bluebonnet in London, but success is by no means guaranteed. Texas Bluebonnet is a winter annual, meaning that its seeds germinate in the fall, form basal rosettes of foliage during the winter and flowers in the spring - March and April in Texas. It requires alkaline soil with pH above 7. Your winter fog and high humidity may provide the ideal conditions for fungal diseases to attack the young, developing plant during that time. Once established, Lupinus texensis does not require supplemental water or plant food.

It is too late to plant your bluebonnet seeds this year, but they often remain viable for several years. Prior to sowing your seeds, amend the garden soil in the planting location with lime and some coarse sand. Sow them early next fall, barely covering them with soil. You can increase germination by soaking the seeds in water overnight before sowing. Some seeds are likely to germinate in subsequent years. Try to select a location with bright, direct light and the best air circulation possible. Finally, bluebonnets depend on the presence of a soil-borne, beneficial fungus, mycorrhiza, to aid it in the uptake of soil nutrients. Chances are, your seeds were inoculated with this fungus by the seed company. However, you might consider contacting them to be sure. If the seeds have not been treated, ask them if they can send you some mycorrhiza (similar to a packet of yeast) and you can easily do it yourself.

More Wildflowers Questions

Native flowers versus non-natives
June 30, 2014 - Native flowers versus non-natives. What guidelines do use for identification. I come across flowers in different habitats and can't identify them as natives. Also, how do you attach a image to a ...
view the full question and answer

When to plant wildflowers in California
December 10, 2013 - When is the best time to plant wildflowers in California?
view the full question and answer

2012 wildflower forecast from Friendswood TX
September 29, 2011 - What is your current view of the 2012 Wildflower Forecast? What weeks might be best for someone traveling from Colorado to see our flowers? We are concerned about what the drought will do to the 20...
view the full question and answer

April Wildflowers for South Texas
November 16, 2010 - Can you tell me what wildflowers grow well in south Texas? I would like to plant in the fall for bloom in April. Is this possible?
view the full question and answer

Time for planting wildflower seeds in East Texas
August 06, 2007 - I live in northeast Texas, and we have had abundant rains here. Can I plant some wildflower seeds now, and if so, what plants would be appropriate?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center