Plant Answers  >  Bluebonnet Grown Outside of the State of Texas

BLUEBONNETS GROWN OUT OF THE STATE OF TEXAS


Question:
I'm a transplanted Texan (and Aggie) who has just moved to New Hampshire. Our new property has a site that I think would be great for Bluebonnets (sloping, well-drained, southern exposure), but I don't know if they even grow this far North or where I could get seed. We are now in Zone 5 (a far cry from the Gulf Coast, where I grew up!). The lupines up here that I have seen so far are not the same, and I miss my TX wildflowers.

Answer:
You are going to have to grow bluebonnets as a spring-planted annual in New England since bluebonnet plants freeze at 10 degrees F. You should use fast-sprouting, acid-scarifed bluebonnet seed from WildSeed Farms (wildseedfarms.com) and plant as soon as you can in the spring. If you have a greenhouse, you can start some transplants in the greenhouse at least 8 weeks before you intend to put them in the garden and after the danger of temperatures in the 20's has passed. You cannot expect successful reseeding because of the harshness of the winter weather.



Question:
How can I grow the Texas bluebonnet in Montana?

Answer:
Bluebonnets require a cool growing period and then bloom when temperatures get warmer and the days get longer. I would plant the seed in late winter to early spring and see if it would have enough time to develop a plant while it was still cool, and then bloom in late spring or early summer. Your last option is to grow (or have somebody grow for you) transplants in a greenhouse during the winter and early spring, and then plant them in flower beds and pots in the spring. This works very well and is frequently done here. To keep the plants blooming, pinch off the old flowers and developing seed pods. Don't forget, bluebonnets like full sun and good drainage or they'll melt away. Purchase scarifed seed from Wildseed Farms (www.wildseedfarms.com).



Question:
I live in Yorktown, Virginia and I'm trying to grow a little bit of Texas to brighten my front porch. Last year I tried creating some well-drained soil for growing bluebonnets in clay planter boxes: I mixed about 1/2 play-sand with 1/2 potting soil. The bluebonnet plants turned out thin, tall and pale and the flowers were not all that great either. I can think of three causes. 1) I planted rather late in the year, about Nov. 1-2) Cold weather--we often had temperatures in the low and mid 20's over the winter, and received 6 to 8 inches of snow. 3) The soil does not have enough nutrients or hold enough water (it's a little too well drained). If you had to mix soil from scratch, what ingredients would you use and in what proportions?

Answer:
I think that you are being overly concerned with trying to replicate the bluebonnets' native soil conditions.

GROWING BLUEBONNETS IN CONTAINERS
I recommend that you purchase a good quality soilless potting mix (when growing in a container) from your favorite garden center and use it without amendments other than fertilization in the form of a slow-release container plant food such as Osmocote and water every second watering (when medium dries) with a water-soluble fertilizer such as MiracleGro or any 20-20-20 formulation . Plants in containers need supplemental fertilizer as the potting mixes normally contain limited nutrients EVEN THOUGH THE LABEL INDICATES “NO SUPPLEMENTAL FERTILIZATION IS NECESSARY” and even though bluebonnets in the wild “can” take nitrogen from the air with nitrogen-fixing nodules on the root system. In containers the plants need an immediate, abundant nitrogen source which must be supplemented to produce optimum growth, bloom and seed production. Sow the seed on top of the prepared potting mix and press gently into the moist mix insuring that you have a firm seed-to-mix contact without covering more than one-half inch deep. For more information about growing in containers, see:
http://www.plantanswers.com/Articles/ContainerGardening.asp

BLUEBONNETS CAN BE KILLED BY EXTREMELY COLD WEATHER
Bluebonnets (Lupine) are hardy winter annuals native to Texas. However, Texas Lupines will be damaged by temperatures below 10 degrees F. and killed by temperatures below 0 degrees F. In these colder areas, bluebonnets should be cultured as a spring-seeded annual. Scarifed bluebonnet seed from Wildseed Farms near Fredericksburg, Texas (wildseedfarms.com) should be planted in early spring about six-weeks before the last hard freeze and after all below 20 degrees F. temperatures have occurred.

BLUEBONNETS MUST BE PLANTED IN WELL-DRAINED AREAS AND SOIL
Also, Bluebonnets cannot tolerate poorly drained, clay based soils. Seed planted in poorly drained soils will germinate, but plants will never fully develop and will probably die from damping off fungus. Seedlings will become either stunted or turn yellow and soon die from damping off fungus.

WHERE AND HOW TO PLANT BLUEBONNETS
Bluebonnets require full sun (8-10 hours of direct, “sunbathing” sun). After sowing the wildflower seed shallowly (make sure to have seed-to-soil contact), thoroughly water the area. Wildflower seeds will require ample moisture to germinate and develop into healthy seedlings. For best results, the area should be kept moist for 2 to 3 weeks during the establishment period. If natural rainfall is inadequate, supplemental watering with a garden hose may be necessary. Light and frequent applications of water should be applied to keep the ground moist. Once your wildflowers begin to germinate do not over-water the area. If the soil becomes overly saturated, the seedlings could die from the lack of oxygen supplied to the root system. How frequently you water the newly planted area will depend on local rainfall and soil types. Water every couple of days in lieu of rainfall. After seedlings are 1 to 2 inches in height, watering should be gradually reduced and applied only if the plants show signs of stress. If adequate moisture is not provided, you will run the risk of disappointing results.

CONTROLLING WEEDS AND GRASS
Competing grassy winter weeds MUST be controlled. Grasses can be controlled by spraying the planting with herbicides which kill grass-only such as Ornamex, Ortho Grass-B-Gon, Over-the-Top, Greenlight Bermuda Grass Killer and Poast. These herbicides can be sprayed directly onto wildflowers and will kill surrounding grass BUT NOT DAMAGE THE WILDFLOWERS which are not grass. If, however, other broadleaf weeds (such as henbit or clover) begin to over-shadow the wildflowers, 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 wildflowers.

MORE INFORMATION
See the information at: http://plantanswers.com/wildflower_planting_fall.htm

 


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