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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.

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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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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!

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Friday - May 29, 2015

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Seeds and Seeding, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Why is fall the best time to plant Bluebonnet seeds?
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Bluebonnet plants drop their seeds in late May or early June. Why is it recommended to broadcast Bluebonnet seeds in October which is 5 months after the plant drops its seeds?

ANSWER:

The Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) seed that fall on the ground face many hazards.  They may be washed away in a downpour or carried away by animals or rotted by a long wet spell or prematurely germinated by a short wet spell during the summer.  Of course some will survive all this and that is why we see Bluebonnets return to certain spots year after year.

However, the safest time for Bluebonnet seeds to germinate is in the fall, when cooler weather and fall rains give the seedlings a good chance to form the rosette of leaves that grows ever larger during winter.  So to get the maximum germination success it is common to hold your seed until that optimum time.  
Even when planted at the best time it has been found that many of the seeds do not sprout in that first year. Some of the initial seeds may germinate only after 2-4 years.

For tips on growing Bluebonnets check out this article on our website.  

 

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