Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

September 27, 2012


Filed under: Austin,Bluebonnets — Janice @ 9:36 pm

Everyone in my family and my circle of friends knows how I feel about bluebonnets. I go a little bit crazy when it comes to our state flower. That’s why I did my little happy dance this morning when I walked outside and found this in our little garden:


We have a garden by the front walk and it has flagstone in the middle so you can walk out into the middle of the garden. Most mornings I do walk out into the garden and check out “how my garden grows.” Right now things are healthy because the temperatures have come down and we had a good soaking 3-inch rain about 10 days ago and it is happy. I just didn’t realize how happy until this morning. First I saw spiderworts. That two-bladed plant close to the bottom of the picture is a spiderwort. There were several big ones growing in the flagstones. I stepped in to inspect them and see if that was what they were and then I saw the bluebonnets. Usually I catch them before they start putting out the second set of leaves. Actually (and I had to go look this up, but I used to know it), the first “leaves” aren’t really leaves, they are called cotyledons and they are part of the embryo of the seed and that is why they look completely different. In the case of the bluebonnet, they are rounded and there are two of them. Then the true leave form with their characteristic points and creases and they are easy to spot. These have all obviously sprung up from the rains last weekend.

I have explained the way bluebonnets work to a lot of people who try to plant them in the spring because they bloom in the spring. That doesn’t work though. You have to plant the bluebonnets, like, right now! Or even a month ago so that they are in the ground when these first fall rains come down and they have time to get established and put out some roots and this greenery. People ask if they will freeze in the winter. Maybe they do. I don’t know. But if they do, it doesn’t seem to hurt them, they bounce right back and can still have a beautiful spring. Obviously, I’m no expert and I haven’t studied them in great detail over hard winters. It seems like hard winters are often very dry winters, too, so it might be hard to tell if it was the freezing or the dryness that kept the bluebonnets from blooming.

Bluebonnets are very smart, though. If the conditions are not right for them to bloom and produce and make seed, they won’t. They will stay underground and wait. We had planted bluebonnets and put out bluebonnet plants down here several times with no luck. A few years back Mark bought some seeds at the Wildflower Center of the Wildflower Farm of Fredericksburg and was determined to get some going. He planted them in the fall, but nothing came up in the spring. But it was also a lousy year for bluebonnets every where. But that fall, the bluebonnets began peeking out and we have a great crop the next spring and each year they have been coming back, over and over. We are very careful to let them go completely to seed and let them fling that seed wherever they may go. They can throw their seed up to 50 feet, they say. Fortunately, lots of it still lands right where we had them before, as the picture is shows. I think the bluebonnets like these flagstones because they aren’t going to have a hoe disturb them. Not that hoes often get used in my garden, sadly. In the garden beds themselves, there were plenty of bluebonnets coming up, but there are also lots of grasses that need to be pulled, but now I’m leery of messing with the roots of the bluebonnets.

Mark it down, we are less than 3 months this side of Christmas and the bluebonnets have appeared. Within 3 months the OTHER side of Christmas, we’ll have blooms and springtime in Central Texas.


  1. I have bluebonnets that came out in Oct. they are about a foot tall but they dont bloob why

    Comment by don Laird — October 31, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  2. I’m growing some on my patio in Chicagoland!
    They just sprouted and I googled up to make sure they were not a weed.

    Thanks for the picture!

    Comment by Art P — May 17, 2013 @ 6:17 pm

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