When to plant bluebonnets?

How to Grow Texas Bluebonnets

How Much To Plant

The Texas Department of Highways and Public Transportation recommends a seeding rate of 10 to 12 pounds per acre. At that rate, an ounce (which contains between 850 and 1,000 seeds) will cover about 200 square feet.

This is approximately five seeds per square foot. Using that rate, maximum display probably would be reached the second or third year after planting. If cost is not a consideration, your area is small or you want a good display quickly, seed companies recommend using 8 to 10 seeds per square foot. At that rate an ounce will cover approximately 135 square feet, and half a pound covers 1,000 square feet.

An acre will require 20-30 pounds of seeds. (Keep in mind those seeding rates have been determined on a single species basis and should be modified if you are planting other species with bluebonnets.)

Choose a sunny, well-drained location with slightly alkaline soil for Lupinus texensis. South and west-facing slopes will encourage earlier spring growth and flowering. L. subcarnosus, which prefers the sandy soils found in areas of East Texas, is also available commercially in limited amounts and also requires a sunny, well-drained site.

How to Plant Bluebonnet Seeds

If your site is not weedy and you plan only to interseed bluebonnets into existing vegetation, the process is relatively easy. Mow the vegetation to 6-8 inches and rake up the thatch. Try to open up some bare areas to allow the seeds to make contact with the soil. Prepare weedy ground by using the techniques outlined in Soil Preparation in Gardening and Landscaping with Native Plants. For bare ground, plant seeds on a lightly tilled or slightly roughened soil surface for optimum seed-soil contact.

One rule applies to all wildflower planting, good seed-soil contact is essential. Contact with the soil helps retain moisture around the seeds, which is necessary for germination, and provides a substrate for seedling growth. Hand broadcasting is the simplest seeding method and works well. You may dilute the seeds by mixing them with sand to easily achieve even coverage. Press seeds firmly into the ground with your hands or walk over the area.

Maintaining Your Bluebonnet Patch

Water your bluebonnets, if possible, using light, well-spaced waterings. Although bluebonnets require some moisture to germinate and grow, they do not like saturated soil. If fall or winter rainfall is low, an occasional watering will help ensure success.

As a general rule, you do not need to fertilize. L. texensis because it is adapted to alkaline soils that can be low in nutrients, perhaps because of the presence of Rhizobium. Fertilizing is not recommended and may encourage leggy and weak plants with more leaves than flowers. However, if your seedlings do not appear to be growing vigorously, they may needRhizobium, or you may want to fertilize lightly in early spring.

Do not mow until the plants have formed mature seedpods. Bluebonnet seeds usually mature six to eight weeks after flowering. When mature, the pods turn yellow or brown and start to dry. By mowing after the seeds have matured, you will allow the plants to reseed for next year.

How to harvest bluebonnet seeds and when to pull up your plants

AUSTIN, Texas — Wednesday marks the official first day of spring, and in Central Texas that means a beautiful bloom of our state flower, the bluebonnet.

But come early summer, after the showy season, the journey of next year’s bluebonnets begins. So how do you harvest your bluebonnet seeds to ensure a vibrant bloom?

Post by wildflowercenter.

The first step, according to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center horticulturist Leslie Uppinghouse, begins in early summer, around May or early June.

At this point in the season, the bluebonnets will be done flowering, and the petals will start to dry and drop.

“You would want, if you can, to let the bluebonnets get good and ugly,” said Uppinghouse.

The seeds are located in the flowers’ fuzzy bean pods, which will start to ripen one to two weeks after the petals have dropped. The best time to pull the seeds is when the pods begin to yellow but have not yet turned brown. After this, the pods will start to burst on their own.

PHOTOS: Central Texas bluebonnets of spring 201901 / 36 Dogs sitting in bluebonnets in Georgetown. (Photo: Jo Ann Plympton) 02 / 36 Pink bluebonnet in a field of blue (Photo: Jama Pantel) 03 / 36 Puppy Alicia in Georgetown Texas (Photo: Alicia Martin-Richards) 04 / 36 Beautiful bluebonnets found in Round Rock (Photo: Kat Standefer) 05 / 36 Field of bluebonnets in Lockhart (PHOTO: Adrian Gutierrez Photography) 06 / 36 Beautiful Texas photo of a bluebonnet in front of the Texas State Capitol (Photo: Erin Newman-Mitchell) 07 / 36 Sea of bluebonnets in the Texas Hill Country (Photo: Mystic Quarry) 08 / 36 Asher sits in a bluebonnet field in Gonzales, TX. (Photo: Alex Trevors) 09 / 36 Asher sits in a bluebonnet field in Gonzales, TX. (Photo: Alex Trevors) 10 / 36 Even the dogs want their pictures taken in bluebonnet fields. (Photo: Lindsey Smith Antous) 11 / 36 The bluebonnets can be mesmerizing. (Photo: Lindsey Smith Antous) 12 / 36 A very Texas photo with cacti and bluebonnets. (Photo: Michelle Brown) 13 / 36 Dogs love having their photos taken in fields of bluebonnets as well. (Photo: Rachel Anthony) 14 / 36 “Here is Cooper posing with a random patch of bluebonnets we found on our evening walk in Georgetown! You can even see one of the famous Georgetown poppies!” Photo: Ashlynn Volek 15 / 36 Photo: Adrian Gutierrez 16 / 36 Bluebonnet puppies by Shelly Dannhaus in Red Rock, Texas. 17 / 36 Bluebonnets in Round Rock 18 / 36 Bluebonnets in Poteet 19 / 36 Photo: Susan Laird 20 / 36 21 / 36 Photo: Mike Lewis 22 / 36 Yard full of bluebonnets in front of the historic Galloway House in Burnet. Photo: The Verandas Guest House 23 / 36 Photo by Melanie Schmidt 24 / 36 Photo by Melanie Schmidt 25 / 36 Photo by Melanie Schmidt 26 / 36 Photo by Tricia Marez 27 / 36 Dozer in bluebonnets by Kristen N. Grace 28 / 36 “Cade says, ‘Really, Mom, ANOTHER bluebonnet picture??'” by Christena Cox 29 / 36 Bluebonnets with my dog Odie by Adriana Levin 30 / 36 Bettye Benten’s Australian shepherd, Baby, with her Easter bandanna in a field of bluebonnets 31 / 36 Bettye Benten’s Australian shepherd, Baby, with her Easter bandanna in a field of bluebonnets 32 / 36 Photo by Bianca Juarez 33 / 36 The Kennedy Family in Round Rock, Texas. 34 / 36 The Kennedy Family in Round Rock, Texas. 35 / 36 After the storms by Adrian Gutierrez 36 / 36 Fergie the dog in bluebonnets in Georgetown. (Photo: Jo Ann Plympton)

As another option for harvesting, you can reach into one of the plant’s shallow root system and pull it out of the ground.

“In more formal garden settings, you’ll have other plants that are going to be blooming through the summer,” said Uppinghouse. “They may need some light and some room, and the bluebonnets are smushing them.

“If that’s the case, you can pull them early, but you would never remove the seed pods from the foliage. You could lay it out on the pavement and let them dry in that format,” she said.

Uppinghouse said this method won’t allow for the best maturity in the seeds but will save the other neighboring plants that are coming up in the summer.

Once you’ve harvested the bluebonnet seeds and they are dry, you can store them in glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Keep the seeds in a cool, dry place away from light, and they will be viable for two to three years.

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Timing isn’t everything: How to get bluebonnets to grow in your own Texas garden

As it continues to warm up outside, we’re leaving those winter blues behind and trading them for every Texan’s favorite shade of blue, that of our state wildflower.

But the Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) wasn’t always our state wildflower. In fact, a smaller, less-showy blue lupine, Lupinus subcarnosus (often referred to as buffalo clover and sandyland bluebonnet and more common in South Texas and along the coast), originally took the title when selected by the Texas state Legislature in 1901.

Debate ensued, and in 1971 the taller, more ornate flower with deep blue-spiked flowers and tiny white peaks (the North and Central Texas bluebonnets we all know and love) were included. As were all five different related species of the native flower.

In this March 19, 2016, file photo, the Texas flag flies near a field of bluebonnets near Navasota. (David J. Phillip / The Associated Press)

Look to the fall

Around these parts, bluebonnets begin to bloom each March and reach their peak covering North Texas roadsides and pastures through April, depending on the unpredictable weather patterns also associated with our neck of the woods.

It’s during this time that many gardeners begin to imagine that sea of blue in their own home landscapes. If you’ve had that same thought, or maybe even tried to establish your own wildflower meadow with limited success, you might want to grab the scissors, cut out this article and save it for fall. (Or, you know, save the link.)

Every gardener knows the saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” But for Texans trying to grow our beloved flower, a better expression might be: “Plant in fall if you want any bluebonnets at all!”

Close-up of Texas bluebonnet bean pod(Joseph A Marcus / Wildflower Center Digital Library)

All about the seeds

If we look at the typical life cycle of a bluebonnet in the wild, we’ll get a better understanding of how to mimic those conditions in our own landscapes. Their seeds, which resemble pea gravel, grow in fuzzy pods. As those pods dry in the heat, they begin to “pop” open, throwing the seed around the surrounding area. (You can even hear the pops if you are nearby. Watch the short video below and turn the sound up.)

Some weathered seeds from that generation will then germinate in the fall, forming a rosette of star-shaped leaflets. These young plants then establish a root system and overwinter.

Notice I said “some.” Bluebonnets like to hedge their bets, some germinating this year, some next year, and others some time in the future. In a state that experiences its share of drought, they have adapted. As temperatures warm in late February and early March, they then produce their iconic blue and white flowers, and the cycle starts again.

Closeup of Texas bluebonnet seeds in the pod(Joseph A Marcus / Wildflower Center Digital Librar)

Timing is important

But for home gardeners who plant seeds now, out of excitement, the cycle of the young plant is destined to be interrupted by hot summer temperatures. Those plants will likely fizzle out, never producing blooms.

Timing is not the only challenge facing would-be wildflower horticulturists, I’m afraid. But I still encourage you to give it a shot this coming fall.

Close-up of Texas bluebonnet leaves and an inflorescence.(James Garland Holmes / Wildflower Center Digital Librar)

Tips for planting

For the best chances of a bluebonnet meadow you can be proud of, follow these tips:

* In North Texas, plant mid-September to mid-October for best results.

* Bluebonnets like full sun. Find a spot that receives at least eight hours of sunlight.

* Plant commercially produced seeds that have been scarified to increase germination percentage and speed. Try wildseedfarms.com. (Or use sandpaper to scratch the hard seeds you’ve collected yourself.)

* Disturb the area where you are planting the seeds by mowing short. Or better yet, for poor draining areas, till in compost and/or expanded shale to improve drainage.

* Apply at a rate of 5 to 10 seeds per square foot. Consider mixing seeds with sand to help determine where you have applied seed and where you haven’t.

* To make sure the seeds have good contact with the soil, lightly cover the seeds with soil or rake in. Don’t plant too deep: Two to three times the diameter of the seed is a good rule of thumb.

* Water the seeds in until there is moisture down to the first inch of soil. As they begin to germinate, water only during periods when it has not rained or the top couple of inches of soil are dry.

* Once they are established, bluebonnets are very drought tolerant and do not like excess moisture. Don’t overwater: One inch of water per week is more than enough.

But don’t just sit around waiting for fall to enjoy these Texas treasures. Load up and take the backroads to Ennis (just a short drive south) and hop on the official Texas Bluebonnet Trail to get inspired and dream about what your landscape is going to look like next spring. Then mark your calendars for September and make your seed orders to get a head start on your very own wildflower oasis.

Daniel Cunningham is a horticulturalist at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension.

Growing Blue Bonnets – When To Plant Blue Bonnets In The Garden

Growing blue bonnets adds an interesting shade of color to the spring landscape and for many gardeners, conjures thoughts of Texas. Some blue bonnets are native exclusively to the state; in fact, blue bonnets are the Texas state flower, although six types are included in the classification. Texas blue bonnets grow in other areas too, such as southern Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

Gardeners in other places can add types of blue bonnets to the spring landscape by planting seeds of the various types of blue bonnet flowers. Blue bonnets are of the Lupine family. Lupinis perennis, the Sundial lupine, provides a blue bonnet specimen for Northern gardeners.

When to Plant Blue Bonnets

Depending on how southern the location, Texas blue bonnets usually bloom from February through April from seeds that are planted the previous autumn. Growing blue bonnets from seed is most successful when the seeds receive a special treatment called scarification. Scarification is the act of knicking, abrading or otherwise puncturing the tough seed coat before planting.

When growing blue bonnets from seed, you may purchase seed that is already scarified or plant already sprouted seedlings.

Blue bonnet flowers develop a large root system during the winter months. If you’re considering when to plant blue bonnet flowers, keep in mind that bigger and more developed blooms result from earliest plantings.

If care of blue bonnet plants does not include seed removal, seeds will drop and may sprout in coming years, although chances of an untreated seed sprouting the following year is about 20 percent.

Care of Blue Bonnet Plants

Plant Texas blue bonnets in a sunny location, as at least eight hours of sun is needed daily. Texas blue bonnets can even be seeded into the lawn for color before the grass turns green. Plant seeds of Texas blue bonnets into lawns seeded with Bermuda or Zoysia grass for early season blooms.

Limit watering of established plants, as plants of this genus are accustomed to the hot, dry summers of Texas and are drought resistant.

Young seedlings of Texas blue bonnets should be grown in well draining soil that is never allowed to stay soggy, as blue bonnet flowers have a tendency to damp off.

Soil should be heavily amended with organic material for the top few inches before planting blue bonnets.

Bait is often necessary to keep pillbugs away from the seeds of blue bonnet flowers.

Bluebonnets – Plant in Fall for Spring Blooms

By Nola Factor

In spring, our thoughts often turn to bluebonnets when the rolling hills, pastures, and roadsides here in Ellis and Navarro counties are covered with their fragrant blue blooms. In fall when we are busy preparing for the holidays and putting our summer gardens to bed, it’s easy to forget them. Fall, however is when we need to remember to plant the bluebonnets that will wow us next April!

The Texas bluebonnet is a native winter annual which can be easily cultivated from seed with a little plant knowledge and a degree of patience. Bluebonnets, the “State Flower of Texas” grow best on sloped areas in light to gravelly, well-drained soil and require 8 – 10 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimum blooming. In a garden setting, plant them in raised beds (6 inches or more) or bermed areas; amending the soil with 3 or 4 inches of organic matter to improve drainage. Scatter the seeds and lightly cover or rake into the soil to a depth of 1/8″, making sure the seed makes good contact with the soil.

Keep the soil slightly moist and germination should occur in within 15 – 75 days, depending on the soil temperature. The ideal soil temperature for germination is 55 – 70 degrees Farenheit, and although heat is needed to germinate the seed, cool weather is needed to develop the bluebonnet’s root structure. The cool nights of fall, combined with warm days make it the ideal season for germinating bluebonnet seed. Bluebonnets are among a number of spring- blooming wildflowers that germinate in the fall, their tops remaining small while developing a hardy root system throughout the winter that will provide us with a burst of color and fragrance the following spring.

For a showy display of color in a small area, use 8 to 10 seeds per square foot. That means an ounce will cover approximately 135 square feet and 1/2 a pound will cover 1000 square feet.

(Check back in the late spring for bluebonnet seed harvesting and mowing tips)

Bluebonnet-1-month

Plant bluebonnets now for a spring surprise

  • Fall is the prime time to plant bluebonnets that will bloom in spring. Fall is the prime time to plant bluebonnets that will bloom in spring.

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Is it really bluebonnet planting time in Texas? It really depends on how, when and where do you plan to plant the bluebonnets?

In years past, wildflower enthusiasts purchased bluebonnet seeds and cast them onto a planting site. They looked forward to the beauty the bluebonnets will surely bring in the spring. Unfortunately this technique quite often results in failure.

The more practical gardeners who want to be assured of successfully planting bluebonnets can eliminate this seed-caviar from the bird diet. Rather than casting seed to the wind, rake seed into the soil. Bluebonnet seeds must have soil-seed contact before they will grow. To increase your chance of success and by following a few simple steps, you can reliably produce a spectacular bluebonnet planting.

First, you will use scarified seed. The seed coat of scarified seeds is penetrated by soaking the seeds in acid. Scarified seed will germinate within 10 days after absorbing moisture. Bluebonnet seedlings need periodic water and nourishment as any other flower or vegetable seedling. The water and nourishment provided are critical during the early stages– especially if hot, dry temperatures continue into late September and early October.

Even though these native plants survive without our help, there is no question that they will do even better with a little helping hand. Provide a little complete fertilizer at the rate of two pounds per 100 square feet of planting area, and stand back and watch them grow.

Bluebonnets must be planted in a well-drained location which receives at least 8 to 10 hours of direct sunlight daily. Most bluebonnet planting failures are caused by planting them in the shade and too much water. Ideally, keep plants moist but never continuously wet. “Too wet” will equal death!

Colors are the next decision. As far as I’m concerned Bluebonnets should be blue but Bluebonnets are now available in both seed and transplants in the colors of blue, white and maroon.

For small plantings or in containers you might want to try bluebonnet transplants. Be careful not to bury it too deep. You will notice that all the leaves of the plant arise from a central crown-like structure. The crown should not be buried.

A spring display of our wonderful state flower starts now. Don’t delay, plant Bluebonnets now for a truly Texan experience.

Bluebonnets grow best in soils that are alkaline, moderate in fertility, and most important of all, well drained. Full sun is also required for best growth. Seed may be planted September 1 through December 15; however, for best results, plant seeds no later than mid-November.

This allows seed time to germinate and grow throughout the winter months, during which time a heavy root system and a sturdy plant is developed to produce an abundance of spring flowers.

Seeds

Bluebonnets produce large, hard-coated seeds that may cause them to have a low germination rate the first year or two. As the hard seed coats wear down by rain, abrasion and decay, the seedlings begin to sprout.

Sowing Seeds

Soil preparation is not necessary; the seed can be broadcast over undisturbed soil. However, seed to soil contact is essential. When sowing seed in turf areas, make sure to scalp the grass as low as possible with a mower and rake up any thatch which may prevent the seed from contacting the soil.

Small areas can be sown by hand or with a mechanical hand device. Large areas require a seed drill or other mechanical means that can be calibrated for the seeding rate. For small areas, or places where you want a good display more quickly, seed companies recommend using 8 to 10 seeds per square foot. At that rate an ounce will cover approximately 135 square feet, and 1/2 a pound covers 1,000 square feet. An acre will require 20-30 pounds of seeds.

Soil

After seeding, it is best to cover the seed with soil no more than one-quarter inch deep. This protects the seed from being eaten by birds or “baked” by the sun. Water thoroughly but gently. Follow the first watering with additional light waterings every three days for about three weeks if rain is not present.

Fertilizer
Fertilizing is not recommended as it will produce more leaves but not more blooms. Some seed will begin to sprout in 4-10 days. The germination process can continue over 18 months or more.

Soil Bacterium
Be aware that one of the reasons bluebonnets fail to bloom is the lack of an essential bacterium in the soil. These bacterium known as rhizobium form nodules on the roots of the bluebonnet plant and are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen (this is the conversion of atmospheric nitrogen to a form usable by plants). This nitrogen fixation is needed for the bluebonnets to bloom.

Soil Preparation
Do not soak bluebonnet seed or prick it with pins or in any way disturb the seed coat. Although these methods can speed up germination, they can also damage the seed so that it is really better to let nature take its course.

Flowering Season

In general, the first flowers open about March 15 in the southern part of the state, and in the more northern part of the state, first flowers may not show before May 1. The length of the flowering period is about a month. Allow two weeks after the full bloom period has passed for the seeds to mature.

Mowing

As a rule of thumb, when the dead brown foliage offsets the floral color display, the area can be mowed. If it is a large area, it should be mowed to a height of 4-6 inches. Annual mowing aids in seed dispersal and reduces competition of unwanted weeds and grasses.

Seed Storage

If you wish to store the seed, the pods should be harvested before they explode and scatter the seed. The seed should be thoroughly air dried on newspaper. Seeds which are not completely dry prior to storage will contain excessive moisture which will cause mold to grow and damage the seed.

After the seeds are completely dry, store in a water-resistant container. Add a packet of desiccant to the seed such as silica gel (which can be found in craft stores). This gel will remove any moisture that remains in the storage container after it is sealed. Seed stored under these conditions will remain viable for many years. Seed may be sown at harvest or stored for future planting in the produce section of the refrigerator until the fall.

Most Important Factors

In brief, it may be said that the most important factors in establishing bluebonnets are: (1) plant prior to December 15 (2) plant seed in soil well adapted for bluebonnets (3) make sure there is good seed to soil contact when planting.

A. We all enjoy the state flower of Texas blooming the spring. It is a wildflower that germinates in the fall, develops a massive root system throughout the winter with inconspicuous tops, and produces the vibrant color in April and May.

The first requirement for bluebonnets is a minimum of 8 hours of direct sunlight. Next you need well drained soil which may mean building a raised bed (6 inches or more) and adding 3 or 3 inches of organic matter. Use scarified (chemically treated) seeds to insure success. Only 20% of non-scarified seeds germinate. Seedlings will need to be protected from pillbugs by placing bait around the plants weekly during the first month after planting. Also, too much water can kill the plants. Bluebonnets are actually very drought tolerant.

To avoid germination problems transplants may also be used. With older plants handling and spacing are easier. They also reduce the chances of damping-off, a fungal disease that causes stem rotting. But be careful not to plant them too deep. The sooner in the fall (beginning in September) the seeds and transplants are planted the larger the blooms and plants will be in the spring.

To keep bluebonnets blooming longer, remove old blooms. This will encourage side shoots as well as delay the seed production which stops the blooming.

If a lawn display of bluebonnets is desired, you will need bermuda grass or zoysia grass. St. Augustine lawns do not go dormant early enough in the fall and grow back too early in the spring. Aerate your lawn no later than Thanksgiving with a plug type aerator. Sow the scarified seeds and rake with a lawn broom to insure some of the seeds end up in the aerator holes. Water your lawn thoroughly. Competing winter seeds can be controlled with Ortho Grass-B-Gon without harming the bluebonnet plants. After the blooming is over, you can wait until the plants go to seed in June or you can remove the plants right away and replant in the fall.

In addition to the beauty of the blooming bluebonnets, your soil will be enhanced by the natural nitrogen they produce. To see bluebonnets and other wildflowers along Texas highways, visit the TxDot website for information on where they are blooming now. http://www.txdot.state.tx.us/

Outsidepride Texas Bluebonnet Seed – 500 Seeds

Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus Texenis) – No wildflower is so well known as Texas Bluebonnet. It’s easily grown from Texas Bluebonnet seeds, and it can transform a field of little interest into a colorful display of lovely blue wild flowers! The Texas Bluebonnet wildflower was adopted as the State Flower of Texas in 1901 and is most often seen in beautiful floral displays along road sides and in pastures all over the state. Though native to Texas, these wild flowers will grow in other areas.

Texas Bluebonnet flowers are in the lupine family, with green leaves, large and palmate, and lance-shaped leaflets. The stems are topped by dark blue clusters of up to 50 fragrant pea-like flowers. The tip of the cluster has contrasting white flowers. When planted in mass, the visual effect is stunning. A sea of blue is created!

How To Grow Texas Bluebonnets: It is recommended to soak Texas Bluebonnet seeds in tepid water over night before sowing outdoors. After soaking, sow the Texas Bluebonnet wildflower seed directly into prepared soil that is loosened and weed free. A late fall sowing is recommended. To keep Texas Bluebonnet wildflowers year after year, allow the seed pods to form and drop their flower seeds. Texas Bluebonnet Lupine is moderately deer resistant and the flowers attract butterflies. The Texas Bluebonnet flower seeds and plants are considered to be poisonous. Do not consume.

Texas Bluebonnet is a true-blue beauty and one of the worlds most well-known wildflowers. Famous for creating carpets of sweeping indigo color mid-season in meadows throughout the country, this variety prefers sandy, loamy and well-draining soils, as well as a minimum of six hours of sun per day. In warmer areas, Texas Bluebonnets act as perennials, coming back year after year, but in colder areas, they act as annuals.

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