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Lupine Texas Bluebonnet WIldflowers have been loved from the early days of Spanish priests that gathered the seeds and grew them all around their missions. Lupinus texensis, the favorite of tourists and artists, provides the blue spring carpet of Central Texas. It is widely known as THE Texas bluebonnet. It has pointed leaflets, the flowering stalk is tipped with white (like a bunny's tail) and hits its peak bloom in late March and early April. It is the easiest of all the species to grow. Although heat is needed to germinate the seed, cool weather is needed to develop the bluebonnet's root structure. Nature has structured the bluebonnet seed in such a way that only a small percentage of the seed germinates during the first season after planting. This delayed germination ensures species survival during periods of adverse growing conditions such as prolonged drought. Nature may want to ration bluebonnet seed germination but planters of the state flower want each and every seed to germinate and grow rapidly. To ensure rapid, high percentage germination, the bluebonnet seed has to be treated to remove inhibiting properties of the seed coat which otherwise prevent water uptake and the initiation of growth. This process of seed treatment is referred to as scarification. Seed which has been properly scarified will germinate within 10 days after planting in a moist soil. Seedlings of scarified seed are also more vigorous. If you want to be successful- remember to scarified the seeds. Also remember that during early growth, bluebonnets form ground-hugging rosettes. The whole plant may not be over several inches tall but the leaves may cover an area the size of a dinner plate. This is a natural condition and regardless of how much one waters or fertilizes, the plant will not grow rapidly until the warmth of spring initiates flower stalks. It is also natural for the lower leaves to turn a crimson color after the first freeze. Beneath the rosette of leaves, a large mass of roots is growing. These roots have the ability to form nitrogen-fixing nodules which are filled with beneficial bacteria that can take nitrogen from the atmosphere and feed the plant. FORGET THE IDEA OF JUST THROWING OR SCATTERING THE SEED IN THE GRASS as that usually ends up being bird feed.
Tips On When And Where To Plant Wildflower Seeds
First, find out what your gardening zone is. Take a look at our zoning information. Don't plant wildflowers when frost is still a danger in the early months of the year, or when frost is about to set in near year's end. In most regions, the optimal planting time for wildflowers begins as soon as all danger of frost has past and warmer days are ahead.
Do you live in California, Florida or southern Texas? Times of frost are minimal in your area, and you can plant wildflowers in all but the coldest weeks of the year, or the very hottest part of summer. In California, most gardeners plant their wildflower seed in the early winter, so that it is sitting there ready for the first rains to wake it up! In Florida, however, fall is a better time to plant wildflower seeds.
Are you in a rainy corner of the country? Plant before your local rainy season begins, ensuring that your wildflowers will have plenty of time to germinate and establish themselves before summer heat hits in.
In many parts of the country, both annual and perennial wildflower seeds will become permanent parts of the garden, growing either via reseeding or by living on from year to year on their own roots.
If you aren't sure about your zone or optimal wildflower planting time, you can contact your local Ag Department.
How To Plant Your Wildflower Seeds
Don't rake or cover your wildflower seeds with dirt. Instead, after you've finished scattering the wildflower seed, simply walk over the area in your shoes - or barefoot if you're a nature-loving guy or gal! This will gently compress the seeds into the soil without burying them.
If you're expecting rain within a week or so of sowing your wildflower seed, there is no need to water. But, if you live in a dry area or can't count on rain, mist the wildflower seed growing area with a hose or gentle sprinkler. Keep the seed bed moist until the little plants are established or rain is falling on its own without help from your garden hose! Germination times are unique to each variety with some appearing in as little as a week and others taking many weeks to germinate. Be patient - each variety will start growing at the time that is right for it.Each fall, you will need to do an annual mowing of your wildflower garden. Set your mower to high and go over the entire area. And that's all you need to do. Unlike other types of gardening where you are buying starts or established plants and putting them in specific places, wildflower gardening comes with a built-in element of adventure. You will sow your seeds just where you want them this year, but Mother Nature may give you some surprises next year when she resows the seeds and comes up with a whole new work of living art for your enjoyment!