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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - February 10, 2013

From: Amarillo, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Wildflowers
Title: Buying bluebonnet plants for project in Amarillo TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is there anywhere I can buy some bluebonnet plants by March 1, 2013 for a school project? We are growing some, but they are just up.

ANSWER:

At least around Austin, you can usually find some in bloom in pots in large commercial nurseries like Home Depot, and we have even seen them for sale on the front porch of grocery stores. We can guarantee neither availability nor endurance of the plants in pots in either case.

We love school projects on wildflowers, but you are suffering from a couple drawbacks. The first is, as you can see from this USDA Plant Profile Map, Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) do not grow natively anywhere close to Potter County.

We suggest you read the descriptions of the climate and soils in the Texas Rolling Plains as well as this one of the High Plains. Amarillo is right about on the border of the two.  Then go to this plant link Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) and read the growing conditions for bluebonnets:

"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
Conditions Comments: Not only does the state flower of Texas bloom oceans of blue, but this famous wildflower forms attractive rosettes in winter. This is the species often used by highway departments and garden clubs. If planting this species in areas where it has not formerly grown, it may be helpful to inoculate the soil with a rhizobium (soil-borne bacteria which form nitrogen-rich root nodules) for lupines."

This flower is an annual, which means it blooms fast, makes seeds that can last several seasons in the soil and dies. A potted blooming bluebonnet might not last long enough to even set seeds. If you do find some potted blooming plants, try to wait until the last minute to buy them, so they will last through your project on March 1. The rosettes you have might surprise you by starting to put on blooms sooner than you expect them, but they might not. It's colder in Amarillo than it is in the parts of Texas where the bluebonnets grow wild. All we know to do is wish you luck.

After this member of the Smarty Plants team published this answer, another member of the team with sharper eyes noted that Lupinus plattensis (Nebraska lupine) grows in Hartley County, Texas, near Potter County, as shown in this USDA Plant Profile Map. Lupinus plattensis (Nebraska lupine), like Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), is one of 5 or 6 members of the genus Lupinus considered the state flower of Texas. So, possibly that is what you are growing in Potter County, in which case they have a better chance of surviving. This lupinus is perennial. We have added a picture below of the Nebraska Lupine in case you feel that is what you are growing. Whether that would be the plant that is grown and sold in pots in Amarillo, if any, we have no idea.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Nebraska lupine
Lupinus plattensis

More Wildflowers Questions

Bluebonnets and weeds in Burleson TX
March 31, 2010 - I have lots of blue bonnets growing in my yard but they are overcome with weeds. What can I use to eliminate the weeds without killing the bluebonnets?
view the full question and answer

Will native plants become invasive from Grapevine TX
February 23, 2013 - Main Question - I want to convert my front and back yards into a native plant sanctuary but worry about if these plants growing out of control/invasive and if neighbors will complain about these "wee...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of over-watering of Asclepias tuberosa
August 05, 2005 - Another question about butterfly weeds, the leaves on one of my plants are turning a yellow-red color and the blossoms seem to be dying (drying up) before they can bloom. It is right in the same area...
view the full question and answer

First to Bloom in Western PA
October 02, 2010 - What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom in Butler, PA?
view the full question and answer

Plantings of Castilleja in Texas
April 04, 2012 - I am a graduate student interested in studying different species of paintbrush (Castilleja) in Texas. I understand that the Texas Dept of Transportation has been seeding wildflowers along Texas highwa...
view the full question and answer

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