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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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Thursday - September 23, 2010

From: Spring Branch, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Should Bluebonnets Be Planted in Mulch in Spring Branch, TX
Answered by: Marilyn Kircus

QUESTION:

I would like to plant bluebonnet seeds in my flower bed. The bed has a layer of shredded cedar mulch. Do I need to remove the mulch where the seeds will be planted, or will the plants grow up through the mulch?

ANSWER:

Bluebonnet seeds need to be in close contact with the soil to germinate properly. Also, they don't like to stay wet.  And a lot of wildflower seeds need light to germinate.  For all of these reasons, you need to remove the mulch where you plan to plant the bluebonnets.

Also be sure you are planting them in a well-drained area.  You have heavy clay, and, unless you have already amended your beds,you might need to add some decomposed granite to the soil and till it in Then lightly rake the soil, add the seeds and step them tightly against the ground. Be sure and water them lightly right after you plant them.  They should be fine on their own once they start growing unless we have a long dry spell.  I think that you will have more problems keeping them dry than wet enough in Spring Branch.  I think I would be inclilned to put them in their own area, with 4- 5 inches of decomposed gravel worked into the soil, unless you have already built a bed for plants that like dry conditons. Otherwise that gumbo soil is likely to drown them this winter.

Here is a useful article from our How To Articles on How to Grow Bluebonnets.

I hope your beds are ready to plant your seeds. Early October is the prime time to plant bluebonnets.

 

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