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

Short wildflowers to interplant with grass in PA
July 05, 2011 - I live in NE PA and would like to grow short wildflowers throughout my yard mixed in with my grass. Is this possible? If so, what would be a good match for my zone? I will be mowing the grass once a w...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Gay Feather
September 22, 2005 - Can I transplant the flower Gay Feather any time or should I wait until the plant dies this winter?
view the full question and answer

Thinning and culling wildflower seed mix plants
May 11, 2015 - Wildflower garden in central Oklahoma I sowed a (mostly) native wildflower mixture in early November here in my Zone 7A Edmond, OK garden. To my surprise, many of the seeds (I'm guessing annuals)...
view the full question and answer

Spreading bluebonnets in pasture from Ledbetter TX
April 29, 2013 - I've found a small patch of bluebonnets in my back pasture in Ledbetter, tx. What is the best method of encouraging their spread across the pasture? I've heard that one can pull up the plants and ...
view the full question and answer

Herbal properties of Dicentra formosa
January 23, 2016 - I would like to get some information on the Dicentra formosa plant such as the benefits of the plant. Is it poisonous? Can it be infused in an oil?
view the full question and answer

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