Zanthan Gardens bluebonnet seeds
Brown hard seeds are ripe. Mushy green seeds are not ripe yet.

May 15th, 2007
Collecting Bluebonnet Seeds

Several people have asked me how to propagate bluebonnets…how to tell if the seeds are ready. It’s easy. Don’t cut back the bluebonnets or mow until the seed cases are brown and you can hear the seeds ratttling inside. If you tap the seed case and it pops open, you know they’re ready.

Zanthan Gardens bluebonnet seeds
To release their seeds, bluebonnets pop open with a little twist.

You can let the seeds reseed on their own (a bunch will anyway, as long as you don’t mow). With this method, some will be lost to birds, fire ants, and hot weather. Or you can collect the seeds, store them in a cool dry place, and sow them where you want them in August before the fall rains. If we have a rainy early summer, some bluebonnets will sprout now but, unless you baby them through the long, hot summer, they probably won’t survive until fall.

Bluebonnets naturally sprout in the fall, grow all winter, and flower the following spring.

You’ll find all sorts of advice for nicking the hard seed coats or rubbing them with sandpaper. This might be necessary with old dry seeds that you buy. I never do it because my own seed is fresh. Sometimes I soak them overnight or until they plump up. I did this the first couple of years to get started but now I have more sprouts than I can deal with an so I don’t need to go to any extra trouble. I let them sprout and transplant them where I want them.

Bluebonnets have hard coats so that they don’t sprout all at once if it rains. In Texas, it might rain and some sprout, and then die off in a long dry spell. But since they don’t all sprout at the same time, some are kept in reserve until more favorable conditions present themselves.

photo: Texas bluebonnet
2006-06-11. The last bluebonnet of the year.

June 14th, 2006
Week 24: 6/11-6/17

Dateline: 2006
Austin’s heat wave continues, but it could be worse. It has been worse. In 1998, we hit a record high of 108 degrees on June 14. Today it was a mere 95–a breath of fresh air after yesterday’s 101.

We typically get an average of 4 inches of rain in June, making it one of our rainiest months. So if we Austin gardeners are grumbling and shaking our fists at the sky, we feel completely justified. Looking back over the last eleven years I see I note every shower and thunderstorm, wondering if it will be the last before the heat of real summer sets in. Not to worry. This year misery has already arrived. You northern gardeners can imagine it as the equivalent of an early frost which cuts down your plants in their glory and then is followed by a balmy Indian summer.

When June is a wet and mild month, I find it easy to succumb to the tempations of the nursery and plan and plant. Over the years, I’ve become suspicious of June’s charms and learned to put off any planting until fall. As heat wave 2006 continues, I am only in the garden between 7 and 9 in the morning. Almost all my time is spent watering with little time left for cleaning up seedy plants and dead-heading.
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