Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Sharing Selfheal with Texas Friends
April 25, 2013 - I have discovered selfheal plants in my yard. When and how do I collect the seeds or do I just dig up plants to share with friends? I understand this is actually an herb. I love identifying wildflower...
view the full question and answer

Establishing wildflowers on a slope in Virginia
August 18, 2012 - From Roanoke Virginia. I have a steep bank rising from one side of my driveway to woods above. Different areas vary from full sun, to half day shade. It is possible to carefully walk/stand on it, we a...
view the full question and answer

Help with Habiturf from Bertram TX
March 24, 2014 - I am a resident of Bertram..about 45 min northwest of Austin. I have 1.33 acres of land with my home on it. My front pasture is pretty nice native grass but my backyard is full of weeds. I'm guessing...
view the full question and answer

Spreading bluebonnets in pasture from Ledbetter TX
April 29, 2013 - I've found a small patch of bluebonnets in my back pasture in Ledbetter, tx. What is the best method of encouraging their spread across the pasture? I've heard that one can pull up the plants and ...
view the full question and answer

When to seed a native grass lawn in a drought area?
December 15, 2011 - I want to plant a native grass lawn. It is raining now. Can I plant it in December? It might not be raining in the spring if the drought continues.
view the full question and answer

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