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Are you ready to start planting bluebonnets and other wildflowers to spread the love for our pollinators in San Antonio? We are, and we need all the help we can get. We want as many native, pollinator-friendly, plants that we can get in San Antonio, so we’re bringing in a top expert on the subject to help us out. Make plans to visit us Saturday, October 5th 2019 at 10AM, for “Secrets of a Successful Wildflower Meadow”. We are very excited to be hosting the owner and founder of Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg Texas, John R. Thomas. He will be sharing his expert knowledge on wildflowers, pollinators, and all you’d need to know about bringing both successfully to your home gardens. In the meantime, check out this fun blog for a few interesting bluebonnet facts and some tips to grow our state flower successfully.

5 Facts and Tips about Bluebonnets

1. Bluebonnets Need Fall.

Don’t even think about planting the seeds of bluebonnets at the wrong time of year. Most people just don’t think about bluebonnets until they want that perfect family picture in spring; but wait until then to plant your own seeds and you will be waiting a very long time, like forever! Bluebonnet seeds need to be planted in early fall. They need all the time from fall to spring to get established and grow. They way these wildflowers work is: they bloom in spring, go to seed in summer, and germinate in early fall. Planting bluebonnet seeds (and other wildflowers) at the wrong time of year is the number one reason people are unsuccessful.

 

2. Bluebonnets Have Small Appetites.

Did you know that bluebonnets do not need fertilizer? As a matter of fact, they do not even want it! You should give your wildflowers a specific area or bed to grow in, but you don’t need to go overboard with too much prepping of the area like you would a perennial, annual, or vegetable bed. If you put too much “extra” stuff into your wildflowers beds (compost, fertilizer, etc…) your bluebonnets will disappoint by producing all leaves and no blooms.

 

This bluebonnet patch fills in every year. It never gets fertilized, and survives on natural rainfall year after year.

3. Bluebonnets Aren’t Very Thirsty.

Sow your bluebonnet seeds and area that drains well. For the first 4 to 6 weeks after sowing your bluebonnet seeds, make sure the area get frequent, but light, watering. Hopefully fall rains will help out a little. While you do need to water your newly sown seeds or transplants to get them established, the rest of the time you can let them fend for themselves and rely on natural rainfall. (Extreme periods of extended drought is an exception and they should be offered a little drink) 

  

4. Bluebonnets Attract Pollinators In A Unique Way.

Did you know the white spot on bluebonnets contains patterns that are invisible to us but provide bees a virtual landing pad? The white spot that reflects ultra violet light signals that the bluebonnet is ready to be pollinated. The white spot then turns to a magenta color when the bluebonnets are no longer as fertile, and since the bees don’t register this color, they move on down the pasture. Isn’t it cool how nature works?

 

In this picture, you can really see those white spots turning magenta. The bees better get the goods while they can!

5. Bluebonnets Are Tough.

Did you know the seed coats of bluebonnets are thick and tough enough to protect them from dry periods and flash fires? Because of the durability and thickness of the seed coat, some seeds from bluebonnets can take up to 3 years to germinate! Not all seeds will take this long, but it helps to understand why you might not automatically have a giant field of bluebonnets a year after planting just a few plants. (See an old Happy Gardener here for info on “scarring” bluebonnet seeds to help them germinate faster.) Give them time to emerge and complete their lifecycle each year and you’ll be surrounded by blue in no time. Let your plants completely die and dry at the end of blooming so they have a chance to create strong, viable seeds for you to collect (or let the seeds fall naturally).

See you at the event October 5th (make sure to stay for the Seedbomb workshop after), and happy bluebonnet sowing! For more info in our series of wildflowers, click here.

~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy