The Q&A Archives: Planting Texas Bluebonnets

Question: I purchased some Texas Bluebonnet seeds which I would like to naturalize in a mostly sunny area along our roadside. Our area is primarily hilly white oak woods with very acidic, elastic clay soil. The package has sketchy planting instructions and no description of best growing conditions. Can you tell me how, if possible, I can make them thrive, eg. when and how to plant, is seed freeze required, adequate soil pH and composition? Also, am I correct that these are annuals?

Answer: Texas Bluebonnet is Lupinus texensis, a hardy winter annual native to Texas. Adopted as the "State Flower of Texas", this is the most commonly seen variety along roadsides and in uncultivated pastures throughout the state. Flowers are densely arranged on a spike with a characteristic ice white terminal tip. Bluebonnets cannot tolerate poorly drained, clay based soils. Seed planted in poorly drained soils will germinate, but plants will never fully develop. Seedlings will become either stunted or turn yellow and soon die. Prefers a sloped area in light to gravelly, well-drained soil. Requires full sun.

Average planting success with this species: 60%
Height: 12-24 inches
Germination: 15-75 days
Optimum soil temperature for germination: 55-70F
Sowing depth: 1/8"
Blooming period: March-May
Average seeds per pound: 13,500
Seeding rate: 35 lbs. per acre
Easy to grow from seed providing you do not have an overabundance of rainfall and plant in well-drained soils.

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