Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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?

Share

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

Friday - November 06, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Meadow Gardens, Propagation, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Improving Bluebonnet seed contact with soil
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I have a five acre field in Blanco County, much of which is covered by bluebonnets. There are several species of native grasses as well. Would it be beneficial to disk or otherwise disturb the soil every few years? Or would annual mowing provide enough soil disturbance to encourage the bluebonnets to reseed?

ANSWER:

We have a good website describing methods for large scale wildflower seed planting.  This would be useful to you, since the most important requirement for good germination is getting the seeds into direct contact with the mineral soil.  Mowing and raking off existing vegetation prior to planting may be necessary to improve seed/soil contact.

However, I would not recommend following these procedures this year.  With all the rain we have had, Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) seeds are already germinating in Central Texas.  I suggest that you walk through your field looking for sprouting Bluebonnet seeds.  I attach two photos of Bluebonnet seedlings. In my yard many of them still have only the two seed leaves (the round leaves shown in the first photo).  If you see no signs of Bluebonnet seedlings, it should be save to proceed with the soil-loosening steps described in the website.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

More Propagation Questions

Propagating Indian Paintbrush
August 17, 2008 - I live in Pecos, NM and have a lot of Indian Paintbrush plants growing wild on my road. I wonder if you can tell me how I can propagate this plant.
view the full question and answer

Sapindus drummondii or Rhus aromatica for Austria
May 07, 2006 - Hy! I'm from Austria/Europe, and interested in some North American native plants specially. It would be great if you can help me with my two questions: Sapindus drummondii I read from different...
view the full question and answer

When to plant Indian paintbrush seeds
August 25, 2008 - I live in Santa Fe, Texas and I've been trying to find the right date to plant Indian Paintbrush seeds but so far have been unsuccessful. I know it says in the fall but that seems to be a broad rang...
view the full question and answer

Compact possumhaw holly for Plano TX
April 19, 2010 - What variety of possumhaw holly would be best planted close to a house? I'm looking for a variety 15-25 feet, as compact as possible. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Altering the flowering time of Phacelia tanacetifolia
September 08, 2008 - I have been using Phacelia tanacetifolia as a forage plant in a 1 acre and 6 acre enclosure to mass rear the Blue Orchard Bee,(BOB), Osmia lignaria for use as a managed pollinator of almonds in Califo...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.