Bluebonnet

1. Q: Where do you get bluebonnet seeds?

A: Most nurseries will have transplants. Seeds available from Wildseed, Inc. of Eagle Lake, Texas. Sow in full sun in August.

2. Q: How to start bluebonnet seeds?

A: The ideal location for planting seeds or plants is sunny. They will not perform well in an area which receives less than 8 to 10 hours of direct sunlight. Bluebonnets will thrive in any type of soil that is well drained. In sticky soil, try building raised beds, 6 inches or more, and amending the soil with 3 or 4 inches of organic matter. Keep the soil slightly moist. Once established they become tough, drought-tolerant natives. The seed must be lightly covered or raked into the soil before it germinates. Plant in August.

3. Q: When do bluebonnets bloom? Client planning to schedule a bus tour.

A: Peak bloom is in late March and early April; depends on the spring weather.

4. Q. I understand there is now a bluebonnet named for former First Lady Barbara Bush. Can you tell me how it was developed?

A. 'Barbara Bush Lavender' is a selection of natural variation that occurred in a native stand of Texas bluebonnet that was collected and improved through recurrent selection by Dr. Jerry Parsons, Texas Cooperative Extension, San Antonio. You can read more about this selection and see photographs in the accompanying document.

5 Q. Is there really a pink bluebonnet?

A. Yes, the pink occurs very rarely in nature. Pink bluebonnets are the subject of a very interesting legend. Read about the legend of the pink bluebonnet.

6. Q. While visiting the Texas A&M campus last spring I noted a bed of maroon flowers that resembled bluebonnets. Is there a maroon colored bluebonnet?

A. Dr. Jerry Parsons has selected a line of bluebonnets that have a true Aggie maroon color. There were 2 or 3 evaluation plantings of this selection on the A&M campus in the Spring of 1995. This selection was developed using techniques similar to the ones described for the 'Barbara Bush Lavender' bluebonnet.

7. Q. Last year I used the bluebonnet transplants. They bloomed beautifully! It is the first time that I have ever succeeded. I let the plants with seeds dry and shatter. Now I have bluebonnet plants sprouting in that location. What should I do to preserve these plants through the summer?

A. Fear not! Nature preserves her species. That is why most of the bluebonnet seed did not sprout and will lay dormant until this fall when it is safe to sprout. Unfortunately, those seeds which were "fooled" by excessive moisture this spring and sprouted will not produce a plant which can survive the heat of the summer. There are still plenty of seed remaining to insure a bluebonnet population next fall and beautiful bloom next spring.

8. Q. Please give instructions on how to plant bluebonnets in a bermuda grass lawn. Since my lawn doesn't look to good after the drought, I thought I would plant it to bluebonnets.

A. You must have a bermuda grass or zoysia lawn growing in an area which receives 8-10 hours of direct sun daily -- St. Augustine lawns DO NOT qualify. St. Augustine lawns do not go dormant soon enough in the fall and they begin to regrow too soon in the spring. The overseeding procedure involves:

  1. Aerate the bermuda turf area no later than Thanksgiving with a soil plug-removing (rather than poking type) aerator available at rental stores. This is a good cultural practice for compacted bermuda lawns anyway.
  2. Immediately after plugging the lawn area, sow the scarified bluebonnet seed at the rate of one pound (17,000 seed) per 1000 square feet and rake the area with a lawn broom to evenly distribute the seed and to make sure some seed fall into the holes punched by the plugging machine. Not all seed has to be in the plugged holes since the turf grass surface will be "roughed" enough from the aerifing process to provide enough soil-seed contact to enable seed germination.
  3. After sowing the scarified seed, thoroughly water the area. Watering during the winter SHOULD ONLY OCCUR if monthly rainfall is not received. Fall fertilization can be applied as usual.
  4. Competing grassy winter weeds can be controlled by spraying the planting with fusilade-containing herbicides such as Ortho Grass-B-Gon. This herbicide can be sprayed onto bluebonnets and will kill surrounding grass AND NOT DAMAGE THE BLUEBONNETS which are not grass. If, however, other broadleaf bluebonnet-like weeds such as henbit or clover begins to over-shadow the state flower, you may have to intervene with a bit of weed pulling exercise -- there is no herbicide which will kill other broadleaf weeds and not kill broad-leaved bluebonnets.
  5. Remember, YOU MUST REMOVE (shred and mow) the large bluebonnet plants IMMEDIATELY after they bloom next April or you can and will damage the bermuda grass turf. You MUST realize that this is a new and sophisticated technique of beautifying a dull, brown bermuda grass lawn -- NOT a technique of insuring a bluebonnet planting for eternity by allowing plants to remain dying and ugly until seed are mature in June. Overseeding will occur every fall so that designs and colors can be altered and bermuda grass turf will not be damaged (summer green-up of grass will be delayed). This will also alleviate the necessity of neighborhood petitions to force you to clean up your "weed" infested lawn!



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