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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.

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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 - November 18, 2013

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: Variety of colors in bluebonnet seeds from Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Bluebonnet seeds I have collected are a variety of colors, from the sandy/tan color to a grayish color and black color. Are all variations viable? Are they equally viable?

ANSWER:

To be honest, not all bluebonnet seeds are viable at all. In Nature, they put out so many seeds in the Fall that, given winter rains, many, many of those seeds will come up and provide new plants, which will then seed out the next Fall. From our How-To Article on All About Bluebonnets, you will get plenty of information about viability and scarification to increase viability, but not one word about the viability of different colors of seeds. You will also notice from that article that many seeds will wait in the ground for a few years for better growng conditions. The earth protects and insulates those seeds so that a period of inhospitable weather can still be followed by new plants when conditions improve. Generally speaking, with wildflowers the word is strength in numbers. The bluebonnets take this into their own hands, so to speak, by spraying all the seeds out into the ground and leave the rest up to Nature.

If you are interested in doing your own checking on the viability of seeds, see this article from About.com on How to Test Old Seeds. In view of your specific question, you should separate the seeds out by seed color and note on the plastic bag what color each one was.

When we searched on "colors of bluebonnet seeds" all we got was colors of bluebonnets. As you can imagine, our Image Gallery has zillions of pictures of bluebonnets, but the three pictures below were about the best we could find of seeds.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

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