Life After Bluebonnets
EVERY SPRING, as the sunlight pushes just a little deeper into the evening hours and sweaters are shed in favor of lighter layers, Texans prepare for their ritual courtship of roadside wildflowers. The most iconic of the buds bursting into bloom, the beloved Texas bluebonnet, enjoys a short but glorious season of celebrity. Toddlers, pets, newlyweds and white-cotton clad siblings are loaded into Subarus and station wagons and delivered to lush patches of the coveted flora to be photographed. But like many beautiful things, the bloom of the bluebonnet is fleeting. The good news is, nature is a many-splendored thing; one just has to learn to love again. Experts from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center want flower fans to know that there is, in fact, life after bluebonnets.
Where do you go, my lovelies?
By mid-April, bluebonnets are past their peak; petals are falling, and the tides of blue so abundant in past weeks are beginning to ebb. At this point, passersby can observe the formation of green seed pods on the stem of the plant. A member of the pea (Fabaceae) family, bluebonnets produce a pod that resembles a fuzzy green bean. Sean Watson, nursery manager at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, describes the rest of the flower’s lifecycle: “Over the next few weeks, the pods will start turning brown (ripening) and will eventually become dry and dehisce (burst open) releasing seed. They are annuals so they die after seeding out. The seed can germinate as early as August. They grow through the fall and winter and do it all again in the spring.”
There are other fish in the sea… and other flowers in the field.
Wildflower enthusiasts, photographers and visitors take heart — life definitely goes on as the bluebonnets go to seed. The Wildflower Center is flush with Indian paintbrush, lace cactus blossoms, cedar sage, pink evening primrose and winecups. Tri-petaled giant spiderworts and purple coneflowers are presently blossoming and bewitching in fuchsia and violet, while black-eyed Susans, coreopsis and four-nerved daisies add pops of cheerful yellow to many a meadow. Take it from the butterflies and bees alighting in the perfumed, pollen-rich fields of the region: There’s still much to love. Are you ready to move past the blues and meet other colorful contenders? Andrea DeLong-Amaya, director of horticulture at the Wildflower Center, has compiled a list of some of her favorite blooms that are now coming up (and you can always see what’s currently in bloom at the Wildflower Center here):
Hopelessly devoted to blues?
If you’re still thinking about those cobalt-hued beauties, maybe it’s time to make plans for cohabitation. Watch Central Texas Gardener’s video for tips from our director of horticulture, Andrea DeLong-Amaya, on growing bluebonnets in your own Central Texas lawn — or check out our how-to on the subject here. We wish you happy planting and many seasons of love, wonder and wildflowers.