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

Monday - April 25, 2005

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Germination and propagation of bluebonnets
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I live in Austin. Last fall I spread a load of dirt on my lawn to provide soil contact for the 2 pounds of bluebonnet seeds I subsequently spread (this was in early November). The germination rate appears to have been very low. Other than seed scarification (which I did not do) what else can I try to get better results? Was the load of dirt a reasonable thing to try?

ANSWER:

First of all, bluebonnet seeds naturally germinate over a period of several years. This is a common survival strategy for plants living in difficult climates. If the weather is not suitable for bluebonnet success this year, there will be seeds next year and the next to try and try again. In newly sown meadows it is normal to see a gradual increase in the number of bluebonnets over several years. This past year, was not a particularly good year for bluebonnets in many areas due to high rainfall rates at critical times that led to a fungal outbreak. The dirt was a reasonable thing to try, but it may also have been a boon for pillbugs. Although they tend to feed on decaying organic matter, they can decimate germinating bluebonnet seeds. Having said all that, scarifying the seeds would have probably given you better germination. One method is to put sand in a large jar with a small amount of water to make a slurry, add the bluebonnet seeds and shake vigorously. Pour the mixture out on a fine screen and rinse the sand away. Planting the seeds a little earlier in the fall might also insure better germination
 

More Propagation Questions

Will Hesperaloe parviflora Yellow propagate true from seed?
May 11, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I have searched all over the internet and have not been able to find an answer to my question. Will Hesperaloe parviflora 'Yellow' propagate true from seed or is division requ...
view the full question and answer

Are the seeds of my Graptopetalum paraguayense in Macon, GA fertile?
June 01, 2010 - I have a Graptopetalum paraguayense that has finished blooming. I put several of the dead flowers into a Ziploc bag and shook them around, and a few hundred seeds came out. They are oblong and very sm...
view the full question and answer

Timing for planting wildflower seeds in the Pacific Northwest
November 27, 2009 - Do you think it is better to sow wildflower seeds in the Pacific NW in the Fall/early Winter or Spring?
view the full question and answer

No berries on dogwoods in GA
November 18, 2010 - I have 4 native dogwood trees. I have owned the property for 4 years. They have never produced berries. Can you tell me why? are the trees male and female, and could I have all males?
view the full question and answer

Planting wildflower seeds in a drought in Grimes Co. TX
November 03, 2010 - I have a dilemma, shared by others I'm sure. My place, which is in Oakland prairie, has seen no real rainfall since sometime in August, and the soil (sand, loam, and blackland clays)is extremely dry....
view the full question and answer

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