Drive anywhere in the central Texas area and you are bound to spot a native flower blooming along the roadway. With our mild winters and abundance of sunlight, many wildflowers call this place home. In the spring, the highways and interstates light up with a myriad of color that changes week over week. This is due in large part to the late Lady Bird Johnson, the former first lady.
Always a conservationist at heart, she was a primary reason that The Beautification Act of 1965 was passed. This greatly added to the effort in improving the views along our nation’s roads. After she returned to Texas, she focused on encouraging the highway districts to plant native flowers and shrubs. She even provided awards as recognition.
Fast forward through the years and she helped establish the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, www.wildflower.org. As a tribute to the beautiful area we live in, I will highlight some of the native wildflowers we commonly see. I will also provide some tips and tricks for you to use if you would like to grow your own wildflowers. First we start with the State Flower…. The Bluebonnet….
The amazing flowers are usually the first to show their color in the fall. You will frequently see fields of them everywhere in March and early April. It is an annual tradition in most families to stop and take a “selfie” with the blooms. You can’t call yourself a Texan without at least one bluebonnet picture. There are actually 5 species of bluebonnet. They are Lupinus subcarnosus, Lupinus texensis, Lupinus Havardii, Lupinus concinnus, and Lupinus plattensis. The easiest one to grow is the Lupinus texensi. This is the variety you see most commonly.
Bluebonnets need the winter to grow roots, therefore should be planted in the fall. It is important to note that bluebonnets need to be planted in full sun. They prefer the slightly alkaline soil common in the hill country. Make sure the area has good drainage. It is important to note that bluebonnets take several years to achieve a good coverage area. They have a hard exterior coat on the seeds in order to service periods of drought. The seeds must be treated through scarification in order to sprout.
Make sure to adequately prepare the soil, and to have the seeds in the ground in October or November. The seeds must be scarified in order to germinate. Once they are scarified they should begin to sprout in 10 days. There are some helpful tips to achieve this on the lady Bird website…