September 13, 2011

Top 10 Bluebonnet Questions

When do I plant bluebonnet seeds?

Early October is best. Bluebonnets are annuals; they grow from seed to flower to seed in one year. They germinate in the fall, grow throughout the winter, and usually bloom around the end of March to early May. Planting time is important. The earlier in the fall that seeds are planted, the larger plants will grow and more blooming will occur.

What is the ideal location for planting bluebonnets?

Ideal can be defined with one word, sunny. Bluebonnets will not perform well in the shade. They thrive in any soil so long as it is well drained and does not stay wet for long. If your site is not weedy and you plan to interseed bluebonnets into existing vegetation, the process is fairly easy. Mow the vegetation to 6-8 inches and rake up thatch. Try to open up some bare areas to allow the seeds to make contact with the soil. Good seed to soil contact is essential. Press seeds firmly into the ground with your hand or walk over the area. Forget the idea of scattering them in the grass. Seeds must be lightly covered with soil.

What is seed scarification and is this necessary?

Bluebonnet seeds have hard seed coats that often delay germination for a year or more. This is nature’s insurance so that, in case of drought, residual seeds are left in the soil for subsequent years. As the hard seed coats wear down from abrasion and decay, with water, the seedlings begin to sprout. Scarification means scratching or nicking the seed coats to simulate natural weathering processes.

Our seeds are commercially scarified and ready to plant. Without scarification, less than 20 % of bluebonnet seeds will germinate the first year.

How long does it take for our bluebonnet seeds to germinate?

It should take about seven to ten days for the seeds to germinate and begin growing. Seedlings of scarified seeds are more vigorous.

How often do I water my bluebonnets?

Slightly moist is key during the germination process. Once plants are established two or three weeks after planting, they are drought tolerant and one of Texas’ toughest native plants.

Can I plant bluebonnet seeds in containers?

Bluebonnets make great container plants. Pots, barrels or hanging baskets should be filled with a potting mix which drains well and placed in a sunny location. Bluebonnets are an ideal low maintenance flower to replace summer container plants like periwinkles, caladiums, and impatience. Bluebonnets look great in sun around decks, pools or patios. Next spring when bluebonnets fade, replace them with heat loving flowers.

Do I need to fertilize my bluebonnets?

As a general rule, you do not need to fertilize bluebonnets. Lupinus texensis is adapted to Central Texas alkaline soils. Fertilizing may lead to leggy and weak plants with more leaves than flowers.

What are some good companion plants for bluebonnets?

A few recommended companion plants for bluebonnets are pansies, dusty miller, dianthus, ornamental cabbage or kale.

Is deadheading or removing spent flowers necessary?

Removing old blooms encourages new ones, but the bluebonnet is such a prolific bloomer that you don’t have to deadhead.

Are all bluebonnets blue?

No, not in Texas. Texas A&M Cooperative Extension horticulturists in cooperation with seed producers, bedding plant growers, and vegetable farmers have domesticated the bluebonnet wildflower into a new multi-million dollar bedding plant. Development of unusual colors such as white, pink, lavender and red has resulted in the creation of entirely new color variants. The pink bluebonnet has been commercialized into the maroon colored or “Aggiebonnet. “ The only difference between the maroon bluebonnet and the blue bluebonnet is color. The Maroon bluebonnet took over twenty years to develop. The plant was originally found in the wild near San Antonio. “Aggiebonnets” are now commercially available and planted extensively in College Station and surrounding areas. “Texas Maroon” is also named a Texas Superstar plant. “ Aggiebonnet “seeds and transplants are on sale now.

Laura Joseph

1 comment:

Mary Ann Tkach said...

A friend recently brought me a bluebonnet from my home state of Texas. It is in a clay pot. It's dying. HELP!

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