Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets by Madeline Sullivan

Everyone loves bluebonnets because they are the Texas state flower and they are beautiful. There are six species of Lupinus in Texas known as bluebonnets, but only two species are endemic to Texas, the Texas bluebonnet and the sandyland bluebonnet. These are the ones that the highway department plants on many roadways for erosion-control and roadside beautification programs. The sandyland bluebonnet was adopted as the state flower in 1901, but because it was not as showy as the Texas bluebonnet, and popular opinion called for the other four species occurring naturally in Texas to be the state flower, in 1971, the decision was made to make all six of the lupines the state flower. Here in Hunt County only the Texas bluebonnet and the sandyland bluebonnet will grow with success.

Let’s make a little preparation before putting your bluebonnet seeds in the ground.  Bluebonnets do not like heavy grasses or wet feet. Select an area that is open to the sun, not too full of heavy grasses and not in a low area that stands in water when it rains. Bluebonnets should not be sown in an area with winter grasses such as fescue or any type of clover. The grasses and trifoliums will be too aggressive to let the bluebonnet seeds establish. Also, though, do not sow bluebonnet seeds in a bald area on which nothing has ever grown. It is certain that bluebonnets will not grow there either.

If the area you choose is full of grasses and weeds, use a herbicide to kill them in mid-September. Two weeks later check the area, as a second application of herbicide may be necessary.  Let the area lay fallow for at least 14 days. After that time, rake-up all the dead debris and make the area as clean as possible before tilling. When you till (a rake will be good), it must be shallow, not more than 1 inch deep. It works well to till in one direction and then till perpendicular to the first tilling. After tilling, rake the area to make it clean and smooth.

At the end of September to the middle of October, you are ready to plant. As you start to sow, combine the seed with a carrier such as masonry sand, perlite, or potting soil–recommendation being a minimum of 4 parts inert material to 1 part seeds. This is to increase volume and aid in even distribution over the site. Broadcast half of your seeds uniformly over the prepared area. Sow the remaining seeds in a direction perpendicular to the initial sowing.  One of the main problems of a scattered showing is not using enough seeds. So, use plenty of seeds to get a good stand of bluebonnets in the spring. After you finish sowing, press the seed into the soil by walking or rolling the newly planted area. Do not cover the seeds any deeper than 1/8 inch. Some seeds will remain visible. Keep the area moist until the seedlings are well established.

Next spring, you can enjoy your pretty bluebonnets.

About stephaniesuesansmith

Stephanie Suesan Smith mainly uses her Ph.D. in clinical psychology to train her dogs. She is also a master gardener, member of the Garden Writer’s Association, and woodworker. Stephanie writes on almost any nonfiction topic and has had some unusual experiences that contribute to that ability. Getting pooped on by a rattlesnake probably ranks tops there, but things just seem to happen to her. View more of them at www.stephaniesuesansmith.com. View her photos at photos.stephaniesuesansmith.com.
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