By Jeanette Castanon, Ector County Extension Agent
Bluebonnets are the state flower of Texas, it is said that bluebonnets are to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland. Although heat is needed to germinate the seed cool weather is needed to develop the bluebonnet’s root structure. To ensure rapid high percentage germination, the bluebonnet seed has to be treated to remove the seed coat. This process is known as scarification. Seed which has been properly scarified will germinate within 10 days after planting in a moist soil. Seedlings of scarified seed are also more vigorous.
Bluebonnets are very drought tolerant so make sure not to overwater them and risk plant death. Ideal planting location is in the sun, they require at least 8-10 hours of direct sunlight. If grown in a shaded area the plant will be tall with few blooms.
The seeds should not be thrown or scattered, it is important to lightly cover or rake them into the soil. Most seeds are wasted as bird feed when the scattering technique is used. Major enemies of seedlings and transplants are small, nocturnal menaces referred to as pill bugs, roly-poly’s, sow bugs, and several other names which should not be mentioned in polite company.
These hungry devils can devour plants overnight. Many times, the devastating onslaught does not occur immediately after planting. To ensure seedling and transplant survival, it is wise to broadcast pill bug bait around the newly established or emerging plants and do so weekly during the first month after planting.
They bloom for about six weeks during the springtime. Although this is their bloom time it is important to start them off as seeds or transplants at the beginning of fall.