Fall is the Time to Plant Bluebonnets

Fall is the Time to Plant Bluebonnets

by Dotty Woodson


Fall is the time to plant bluebonnets seeds to have bluebonnets flowers next spring. In nature, bluebonnet seeds germinate in September and/or October during the fall rains. Of course in the garden we can provide water so we are not dependent on rainfall but the small bluebonnet seedlings require the cool fall temperature and winter chilling to grow a good root system and flower in the spring.
Bluebonnet seeds are very hard. The seeds look like a dried up peas. In fact, the bluebonnet is in the legume or pea family of plants. The hard seed coat prevents water from entering the seeds for germination. In nature, seed germination is about 20 percent for the seeds dropped that spring. In nature, several years of weathering is required to soften the seed coat to assure germination. This is nature's way of assuring survival of the bluebonnet when drought or adverse growing conditions would kill all the seedlings. The Texas Highway Department, many garden clubs, Master Gardeners and other organizations have planted bluebonnet seeds for many years to assure the beautiful wildflower displays we all enjoy along the freeways.
Bluebonnets seeds are available in seed packets, by the ounce or pound from garden centers, feed stores and by mail order on the web through several Texas wildflower seed growers. Purchase or order acid scarified seed to assure a high germination rate. Acid scarified seeds are briefly soaked in acid to soften the seed coat. Properly scarified bluebonnet seeds will germinate within 10 days after planting in a moist soil.
In a garden area, select a site in full sun where the soil drains well and you do not mind the tattered look of the plants as the plants grow seeds. In non-irrigated areas, plant wildflowers where you do not need to mow until the seeds mature and drop. In a garden area, clear the area of other plants. Break up the soil. Plant the seeds in moist soil. Cover the seeds with a light cover of soil and mulch. Keep the area moist but not wet. In fields and roadsides, germination will occur in the fall when the soil moisture is correct. The wildflower seedlings will remain small until spring. When the warmth of spring arrives, the plants start growing and flower around the second week in April. After the bluebonnets flower, allow the plants to disperse seeds before mowing down or removing the plants. The seeds pods will burst open and the seeds fall to the ground several weeks after the flowers fade. Or collect and store the seeds to plant in the fall. Plant bluebonnet seeds for several consecutive years to assure a beautiful display each spring.