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
1 rating

Sunday - April 10, 2011

From: Fredericksburg, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Bluebonnets and paintbrush for Fredericksburg VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

This is the kind of question we sometimes wish we could answer with "no, no, no and no." But that would be rude and we don't want you to have bad feelings about the Texas State Flower, so let us try to explain. Please begin by reading some of our How-To Articles: Gardening with Native Plants, How to Grow Bluebonnets. Next, please follow these links to our pages on Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) and  Castilleja indivisa (Entireleaf indian paintbrush). Also, from a previous answer:

Sorry, you can lead a seed to dirt, but you cannot make it grow. Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is endemic to Texas, although there has been some success in growing it in Florida, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Inside every seed there are millennia of genetic coding that say "grow here, not there."

There are so many different factors that cause this that some have probably not been identified yet. From our Native Plant Database on the Texas bluebonnet, here are the Growing Conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Limestone/chalky, Sandy Loam, Limestone-based, Calcareous, Sandy, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche"

Castilleja indivisa (Entireleaf indian paintbrush) often grows with bluebonnets to draw on the nitrogen in the soil from the legume Lupinus and is the most likely of the Castilleja genus to share space with bluebonnets. Here are their Growing Conditions:

 

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Sandy soils. Sandy Loam, Sandy, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
Conditions Comments: The roots of this plant will grow until they touch the roots of other plants, frequently grasses, penetrating these host roots to obtain a portion of their nutrients. Transplanting paintbrush may kill it.

You can always try broadcasting some seeds of both whenever you choose, and see if anything comes up.  Bluebonnets are Winter annuals, which mean they are planted in the Fall, germinate in the earth, begin to show rosettes above ground around Christmas, and are blooming by the end of February. Is this going to happen in the east central coastal area of Virginia?

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

More Wildflowers Questions

Identification of Texas bluebell (Eustoma exaltatum)
June 27, 2006 - Very recently on the 6 o'clock news there was a report about The Center joining UT. There was a picture of a large, purple lily-like/trumpet flower with a yellow pistil. I recall my Grandmother call...
view the full question and answer

Seeds of mayflower
May 03, 2005 - Although I now live in Virginia, I grew up in eastern South Dakota. Several years ago while visiting SD I was walking in the pasture and noticed that many of the wild mayflowers (pasqueflowers) had ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Bluebells
August 26, 2004 - Do you have Bluebells growing at the Wildflower center and if so how much longer will they be blooming ?
view the full question and answer

Native Backyard for Lakewood OH
December 24, 2013 - I would like to do away with the lawn in my backyard in favor of native plants that would require minimal maintenance, including flowering plants that would encourage pollinators.
view the full question and answer

Wildflower seeds that do well in black clay soil from Plano TX
November 21, 2013 - What native wildflower seeds do best in black clay soil? We live in Plano along creek w/ 8,000 sq. ft. in full sun. No manmade water source. Suggestions?
view the full question and answer

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