Each spring, as bluebonnets appear in area landscapes, along highways and in pastures and fields, many people get the fever for some of their own.
By this time, however, it’s really too late to begin the seeding process.
Bluebonnet seeds need to be planted in late fall. September to October is best, but definitely prior to mid-December.
The new plants need cold weather to develop a strong root system.
Bluebonnet plants germinate and begin growing during the winter.
We just don’t notice them because they stay close to the ground. Once the weather warms, the growth increases and blooms develop.
This Texas state flower is tough. It has to be to survive our fluctuating weather patterns.
The seeds naturally form a hard, outer coat that can withstand harsh conditions. This hardness also allows for a large number of seeds to lay dormant for up to five years, ensuring their survival.
Many of the seeds you purchase were treated, or scarified, which speeds up and increases the percentage of germination.
But this actually can reduce the number of flowers that return the following spring unless you reseed again in the fall.
If you let bluebonnets reseed themselves, numbers will decline since fewer hard seed coats will allow for germination. It’s really a patience game.
Each following year can increase flower percentages, providing the weather conditions allow.
A very important part of planting bluebonnet seeds is making sure there is good soil contact.
Broadcasting them over unprepared land may waste most of the seeds as well as your time and money.
For a higher percentage of germination, it’s best to rake the area, loosen the soil a bit, and re-rake to barely cover the seeds.
Lightly water a few times a week unless it rains.
Once the seedlings come up, no water or fertilizer is needed.
Darla Horner Menking is a Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org