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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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Monday - August 19, 2013

From: Denver, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Greenhouse bluebonnets for July wedding from Denver CO
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Would it possible for my daughter's florist to get bluebonnets for her late July wedding? Are they propagated in greenhouses?

ANSWER:

We assume you are referring to Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) which, while this USDA Plant Profile Map shows it growing in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Florida, really only grows profusely in Central Texas and is done blooming by mid-April. There are 55 species of Lupinus, 9 of which are native to Colorado, 3 are blue and bloom in July. These are:

Lupinus caudatus (Tailcup lupine) - This USDA Plant Profile does not show this growing naturally in Arapaho County, but certainly in nearby counties.

Lupinus sericeus (Silky lupine) - USDA Plant Profile Map, still not in Arapaho County,.

Lupinus wyethii (Wyeth's lupine) - USDA Plant Profile Map had no information county locations

If you look at the pictures below, the first row are the Colorado natives listed above. The second row are Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet). You are right, they probably wouldn't fool anyone. So, let's go back to Square One, do greenhouses grow bluebonnets? You would be asking a greenhouse proprietor to make artificial Texas Spring weather, bring in alkaline soils and add a whole lot of sunlight, or artificial same, basically forcing the flowers to bloom at the wrong time, in the wrong dirt and the wrong climate. Once, during a focus group on exhibits for our newly refurbished Visitor's Gallery, our Nursery Manager was asked if he could provide blooming bluebonnets year round? He visibly flinched, said it would be barely feasible, given enough time, money and personnel.

From our How-To articles, here is an article on How to Grow Bluebonnets. Then, translate that into greenhouse conditons, from providing the right soil to having blooms on a specific day. The greenhouse would have to be temperature and humidity controlled for the specific requirements of the bluebonnet. Most wedding florists have flowers flown in fresh for specific occasions, and most are flown in still in bud and from foreign countries. That is expensive, but we would bet not as expensive as going the route we have described. Sorry.

 

From the Image Gallery


Tailcup lupine
Lupinus caudatus

Silky lupine
Lupinus sericeus

Wyeth's lupine
Lupinus wyethii

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

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