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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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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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Thursday - May 28, 2015

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Soils, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Failure of TX bluebonnets to thrive
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

We have had extraordinary luck with bluebonnets growing in our driveway of decomposed granite--until last year and this year. The bluebonnets seem to be drying up and wilting away. The ones in other areas around our house seem to do well - front flowerbeds, herb garden, and just about everywhere that seeds land -- except in the driveway. I was told at the Natural Gardener that bluebonnets don;t do well in decomposed granite, and that I should check with the Lady Bird Wildflower Center for confirmation. What do you think?

ANSWER:

When viewing vast fields of Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) one feels that growing them is a pushover.  Not necessarily so.  This article from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center web page gives tips on bluebonnet culture. A key consideration is good drainage.  If bluebonnet seedlings are waterlogged for some hours a fungal disease often causes them to damp off.  Adding decomposed granite is of value mainly to improve drainage.  If you have weather records check to see if there was a long rainy spell in Autumn or Winter when the bluebonnet seeds were germinating and forming rosettes.

One way to assure good drainage is to plant the seeds on a slope.  Perhaps the beds where your bluebonnets did well were sloping or otherwise had better drainage than the driveway.  I suggest that you loosen the soil near the driveway to assure better drainage for next year.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

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