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
2 ratings

Thursday - February 12, 2009

From: Longmont, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Growing Texas Bluebonnets in Colorado
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I bought bluebonnet seeds from your wildflower center last August when visited Austin. Being a Texas native, I want to enjoy bluebonnets here in Colorado. When do I plant my seeds outdoors? In the ground or in a container? Do I start them inside first? Thank you!

ANSWER:

Your question is one we frequently receive and it's gratifying to know that Texans abiding for a time in other parts of the world miss and appreciate our beloved state flower.  Unfortunately, your desire goes right to the heart of our mission and sorely wounds it!  Please don't feel bad, though; we know your intentions are noble and they are completely understandable.  The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's mission is based on encouraging the use and appreciation of locally native plant species.  Since Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is not native to Colorado we would fail in our mission if we didn't bring this issue to your attention.  However, we will try to help as best we can.

If you wish to grow Texas bluebonnet in Colorado we would highly recommend sowing your seeds in containers.  Lupinus texensis is a winter annual.  That is, it is a plant that germinates in the fall, forms a rosette during the winter months and then flowers in the spring.  Colorado winters are probably much too harsh to successfully grow Texas bluebonnets  as a garden plants.

In Texas, nature sows the seeds of Lupinus texensis in May or early June, about 30 to 45 days after flowering. Texas bluebonnet seedcoats are extremely hard and are, at first, impermeable to water.  After a few months of settling into the soil, the seedcoats soften and the seeds germinate and begin to grow.  People, by nature, like to do things their own way, so they usually wait until fall, soak their bluebonnet seeds in water overnight and sow the next day.  Lightly scratching the seeds into the soil will help to ensure good contact between the seeds and the soil.  Do not sow your Texas bluebonnet seeds too deep.

Bluebonnets grow well in flower pots and other containers.  They respond well to added nitrogen after the plant rosettes are established.  You can sow your bluebonnet seeds in containers any time from May until October.  However, the young, developing plants will need winter cold protection and plenty of direct sunlight to perfom well.

Alternatively, we would encourage you to try growing some of your Colorado lupines.  Among the many species native there are: Lupinus argenteus (silvery lupine), Lupinus bakeri ssp. amplus (Baker's lupine), Lupinus caespitosus (stemless dwarf lupine), Lupinus caudatus (tailcup lupine), Lupinus plattensis (Nebraska lupine), Lupinus pusillus (rusty lupine), Lupinus sericeus (silky lupine) and Lupinus wyethii (Wyeth's lupine).

Finally, we recommend taking some time to read some of the How-to articles in NPIN, including a few specifically about growing Texas bluebonnets.

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Planting bluebonnets on UT Campus in Austin
January 07, 2012 - Hello! I am with a student organization on the University of Texas campus. Walking around campus, I have noticed the lack of the state flower of Texas, the bluebonnet. Our organization is hoping ...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets and paintbrush for Fredericksburg VA
April 10, 2011 - Can I broadcast Texas bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush seeds, in Virginia, during early Spring and get germination; or, do I need to winterize and plant next spring.
view the full question and answer

Native Streambank Plants for SE Pennsylvania
July 18, 2013 - I help manage a nature preserve in southeastern Pennsylvania. Along the stream the banks have been beaten down by a large number of visitors for their educational activities such as stream studies. Th...
view the full question and answer

Peak times for viewing wildflowers in Texas
January 25, 2005 - We are planning a trip to Texas to see wildflowers this spring. I have time off March 17-25. Would you expect to see much in bloom then? What area might be the best to visit? Does anyone put reports o...
view the full question and answer

List of native perennial Texas flowers
March 13, 2006 - Good day, I am searching for a list of native Texas flowers (preferably perennials) for a flower garden. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

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