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

Monday - November 18, 2013

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: Variety of colors in bluebonnet seeds from Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Bluebonnet seeds I have collected are a variety of colors, from the sandy/tan color to a grayish color and black color. Are all variations viable? Are they equally viable?

ANSWER:

To be honest, not all bluebonnet seeds are viable at all. In Nature, they put out so many seeds in the Fall that, given winter rains, many, many of those seeds will come up and provide new plants, which will then seed out the next Fall. From our How-To Article on All About Bluebonnets, you will get plenty of information about viability and scarification to increase viability, but not one word about the viability of different colors of seeds. You will also notice from that article that many seeds will wait in the ground for a few years for better growng conditions. The earth protects and insulates those seeds so that a period of inhospitable weather can still be followed by new plants when conditions improve. Generally speaking, with wildflowers the word is strength in numbers. The bluebonnets take this into their own hands, so to speak, by spraying all the seeds out into the ground and leave the rest up to Nature.

If you are interested in doing your own checking on the viability of seeds, see this article from About.com on How to Test Old Seeds. In view of your specific question, you should separate the seeds out by seed color and note on the plastic bag what color each one was.

When we searched on "colors of bluebonnet seeds" all we got was colors of bluebonnets. As you can imagine, our Image Gallery has zillions of pictures of bluebonnets, but the three pictures below were about the best we could find of seeds.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Different colors of Argemone spp. from McAllen TX
March 16, 2014 - I took pictures of at least 5 colors of pricklepoppy today. Is this common to have so many colors in one area? How do I harvest the seedpods and when is the best time to do so?
view the full question and answer

Seeds of Meremia dissecta from Austin
September 30, 2012 - I have a large quantity of seeds of Merremia dissecta that I acquired from plants growing in the parking lot of the San Antonio Museum of Art. (Hmmm… I wonder if it's called alamo vine because of som...
view the full question and answer

Weak flowering on rosa minutifolia from San Diego CA
July 27, 2013 - Hi, I have a Rosa minutifolia and has been doing great, but when it gives flowers the petals fall too fast, only last a day or two and also the fruit never forms completely and finishes drying so I ca...
view the full question and answer

Growing non-native grapefruit from seeds from Austin
April 30, 2013 - Can you grow ruby red grapefruit trees from seeds?
view the full question and answer

Should I transplant my bluebonnets from the planter they came into soil in Austin?
April 10, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Since moving to Austin two years ago I have fallen in love with bluebonnets. Last year I purchased seedlings from the Wildflower Center but a taste-first-evaluate-later inquis...
view the full question and answer

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