All along Austin’s roadways, bluebonnets are making their annual splashy appearance. Thanks to Lady Bird Johnson’s efforts to beautify the state’s highways, generations of Texans have grown up with a shared rite of passage, taking the family portrait in fields full of the state flower.
Where Can You Find Bluebonnets?
There’s an approximate two- to four-week window every March and April for catching sight of these wildflowers. Just how long they last and how spectacular their blooms become depends on the preceding winter’s rain and cold.
It’s hard to anticipate exactly where and when bluebonnets will appear. A good strategy is revisiting places where you previously found flowers. That’s because it takes years for bluebonnet seeds to germinate. The plants reseed each season. The tan, fuzzy pods turn brown, fall off and seeds pop out to spread. To encourage more bluebonnets in a field, it’s important to wait until at least half the pods have turned tan before mowing. Big fields have a continuous cycle of germinating seeds from many years.
Here are three websites to check that give wildflower bloom updates: wildflower sightings.org, bluebonnetlove.com and wildflower haven.com.
6 Tips for Safely Getting Your Bluebonnet Photo
- Keep little ones and pets from putting plants in their mouth. Bluebonnets are toxic to humans and animals.
- Leave the flowers as you found them. It’s not illegal to pick bluebonnets, but it is illegal to mar or take someone else’s property.
- Drive thoughtfully – park legally and carefully re-enter traffic.
- Look for a safe walkway. It is illegal in Texas to walk on a highway or highway shoulder.
- Watch out for bees. Especially for those with allergies, stings could mean trouble.
- Take advantage of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s bluebonnet areas. Their special stands were created to provide a safe place for snapping pics away from traffic.
Make Your Own Field of Flowers
Adding these annuals to your landscape is easy and beneficial. Native plants use less water and require less care (in fact, fertilizing bluebonnets results in more leaves than blooms). They don’t even need quality soil, so they’re perfect for problem areas that get lots of sun. And bees and butterflies will thank you.
Bluebonnet seeds should be sown in the fall, after the first rain. Simply scatter seeds over the area, lightly cover with soil and give a gentle soaking of water. Seeds sown naturally take two to three years to germinate. Scarification–the botanical term for breaking open tough seed pods–speeds up the process. If nature is too slow, either freeze harvested seeds before dousing with boiling water or soak them in water overnight before planting. Or buy treated seeds from seedsource.com, which will help support the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
You can buy bluebonnet transplants at local garden centers (I found some at H-E-B, a great resource for inexpensive herbs). Give them plenty of sunlight, water when dry and just leave them alone. When the plants are dead, simply shake the seeds over the ground as you pull them out. Plan to plant again the following year…and repeat.
The Texas Highway Department has more tips on planting bluebonnets. They should know–for more than 60 years, TXDot has been sowing seeds, putting out 30,000 pounds every year and keeping Texas beautiful.
@leahruns100 wants to know:
Let’s see your bluebonnets! Share your photo in a comment and tell me where you found your flowers.
I have seen numerous locations where people have plopped down for photos in Bluebonnet patches and mashed dozens of plants. PLEASE find a spot on the edge of the patch rather than the middle. Dead plants make no seeds for next year’s crop. Have some respect!
Um, yeah, they’re wild so they grow back in full bloom just like weeds. I have them all over my yard and we mow them only to have more come back. Get over it.
Thank you very much, I will not get over it. You get over it. Plants mashed before they go to seed will not reproduce.
I hate it when you two fight! By the way, why do you mow them down?
Would you believe I spotted a bluebonnet poking up in my yard this weekend?!? (yes, it’s November) It will be interesting to see how the spring crop turns out.
FYI: I updated this article on my blog (new photos and more information). You can find that here: https://leahruns100.com/2017/01/30/texas-bluebonnets-already-signal-spring/
Here’s my bluebonnet patch in the front yard. Every year gets better!
The pictures are not coming up with the comment
Sorry about that. Not sure why that’s the case. Really appreciate you taking the time to read and share your photos. Thanks!
Thank you glad you liked them feel free to share
Baby bonnet Gunn Photography
Truly stunning close up. Isn’t our state flower gorgeous? Thank you for sharing.
. Gunn Photography
So beautiful! Thank you for sharing this lovely photo!
I am no gardener whatsoever so last yr when my bluebonnets pods were still green. Some were dry and the seeds had popped out but most were still not ready. I, like always was too I’m patient to wait for them to dry since I usually grab as many seeds as I can and just plant them that same yr. But this is the 1st yr I’ve had so many come out that I planted last yr wih the seed still green. I just cut the pod open and planted them. Idk if that’s the way to do it but it worked for me.
I’ve got baby bluebonnets in my yard already!! (And I’ve made a note to self: They’re not weeds, so don’t pull them up accidentally a la last year.)
Same here! I scattered some prepared seed in a rather difficult patch of rocky soil that can’t really even be dug because of a huge vein of solid caliche just inches below the soil and many feet deep. That junk is all through our yard and has even broken jackhammers (it’s a solid deposit of calcium carbonate, a.k.a. “White Rock”, from which our part of Dallas gets its name!). But there’s a little bit of topsoil that hasn’t totally washed away, just enough for very tough natives… like bluebonnets… to survive, and boy did they! I had a small stand of bonnets, just big enough to add a sweet splash of color in that otherwise barren corner. I thought, “Heck, just for this year, I might have a few little flowers to enjoy”. No… I had a HECK of a nice show in that spot! It was literally covered in blue and bits of white! I had straggling blooms as late as late July! Then they went to seed. The seeds popped, and it looks like I now have a stand of bluebonnets that is establishing itself– next year’s display will be much larger, it seems. Some will be a bit more spread out, as those are the seeds that flew a good distance when the pods burst open! What was about an 8 foot patch is now about 30 feet long by maybe 15 feet wide, and the original patch is just about as dense as it was when I planted it! I added a few prepared seeds to the new section just to give it a head start and add to the ones that nature planted for me.
(I’m trying to post a picture, but I accidentally clicked the wrong one in my files, erased it, and tried to add the right one instead… but it won’t let me. Sorry.)
Got it… this was JUST as the display was starting to bloom!
Nice! My little bluebonnets have been growing like crazy. Let’s hope they survive the work that’s going on in my yard right now…it’ll be interesting to see how another mild winter affects our spring bluebonnet show.