Lupinus texensis … the Texas Bluebonnet. Standing just over 12 inches, the Texas Bluebonnet is a mighty big flower in the hearts of Texans. No one can deny its beauty. And as they worm their way through the cold Texas earth and raise their violet-blue heads to the expansive sky above, there is no denying that spring is just around the corner.
Did you know that Texas has 5 state flowers? Texas is so large it couldn't have only one.
The five state flowers of Texas are:
- Lupinus subcarnosus, the original champion and still co-holder of the title, grows naturally in deep sandy loams from Leon County southwest to LaSalle County and down to the northern part of Hidalgo County in the Valley. It is often referred to as the sandy land bluebonnet. The plant's leaflets are blunt, sometimes notched with silky undersides. This species, which reaches peak bloom in late March, is not easy to maintain in clay soils.
- 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.
- Lupinus Havardii, also known as the Big Bend or Chisos Bluebonnet. The most majestic of the Texas bluebonnet tribe, it has flowering spikes up to three feet. It is found on the flats of the Big Bend country in early spring, usually has seven leaflets and is difficult to cultivate outside its natural habitat.
- Lupinus concinnus is a tiny little lupine, from 2 to 7 inches, with flowers which combine elements of white, rosy purple and lavender. Commonly known as the annual lupine, it is found sparingly in the Trans-Pecos region, blooming in early spring.
- Lupinus plattensis stretches down from the north into the Texas Panhandle's sandy dunes. It is the only perennial species in the state and grows to about two feet tall. It normally blooms in mid to late spring and is also known as the dune bluebonnet, the plains bluebonnet and the Nebraska Lupine.
Bluebonnets grow best in soils that are alkaline, moderate in fertility, and most important of all, well drained. Full sun is also required for best growth. Seed may be planted September 1 through December 15; however, for best results, plant seeds no later than mid-November.
This allows seed time to germinate and grow throughout the winter months, during which time a heavy root system and a sturdy plant is developed to produce an abundance of spring flowers.
Bluebonnets produce large, hard-coated seeds that may cause them to have a low germination rate the first year or two. As the hard seed coats wear down by rain, abrasion and decay, the seedlings begin to sprout.
Fertilizing is not recommended as it will produce more leaves but not more blooms. Some seed will begin to sprout in 4-10 days. The germination process can continue over 18 months or more.
This year I have added the Ladybird Johnson Bluebonnet with a darker purple bloom.
Also have planted seeds of the Aggie Maroon Bluebonnet for next years show of bonnets.