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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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Friday - March 04, 2011

From: Atlanta, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: How to grow bluebonnets in Atlanta TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How can I grow bluebonnets in Atlanta Texas?

ANSWER:

If "How can I grow bluebonnets where they don't normally grow" is not the most frequently asked question of Mr. Smarty Plants, it's right up there.

Whether you can grow them in the somewhat acidic soil of far northeast Texas probably depends on how hard you want to work on it, and how long you want the blooming plants to reproduce in the same space. There are 6 species of Lupinus that grow natively in Texas, and by act of the Legislature, if it's growing in Texas, it's a Texas bluebonnet and our State Flower. Two of those six, Lupinus perennis (Sundial lupine) and Lupinus subcarnosus (Sandyland bluebonnet) grow in parts of southeast Texas, but not way up where you are. Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is probably what you want, and this USDA Plant Profile of that flower shows that they grow near, but not in, Cass County, TX.

This  Previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on growing bluebonnets out of their native range, including soil modification, etc. talks about personal experience trying to grow Texas bluebonnet in an acidic soil. Another previous question on growing bluebonnets in California explains the reasons why out-of-area bluebonnets seldom prosper, and suggests some alternative members of the Lupinus genus that are native to California.

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is endemic to Texas, although there has been some success in growing it in Florida, Louisiana and Oklahoma. It grows best, and voluntarily, in the alkaline soils of Central Texas. Soils in East Texas have had the benefits of many years of leaves dropping to the ground, decomposing into the soil, creating acidity. This is great if you want to grow hydrangeas or magnolias; bluebonnets, not so much.

If you want to experiment, there is nothing to keep you from purchasing some Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) seeds, planting them in late Summer, in a sunny place, and see what happens. We will be interested to hear if you get bluebonnets and they persist, that is, make seeds and drop them, producing more plants from those seeds.

 

From the Image Gallery


Sandyland bluebonnet
Lupinus subcarnosus

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

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