Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lady Bird Royal Blue Bluebonnet

Every time I see a field of bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush and other wildflowers, I think of Lady Bird Johnson. Her passion for wildflowers and for her home state created a legacy that will be enjoyed for generations to come. How fitting that a new variety of bluebonnet has been named after her - and was chosen as the "Rodeo Flower" for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The Lady Bird Royal Blue bluebonnet is a spectacular shade of blue.

Dr, Jerry Parsons of A&M and Micah Meyer, Jefferson County AgriLife specialist, have written a guide for successfully cultivating bluebonnets. Some of the tips are: Choose the right location. It must be sunny - at least 8-10 hours a day. If not, don't expect a good show. Bluebonnets will thrive in any soil or potting mix as long as it is well drained. Keep the potting mix or soil slightly moist - not overly wet. Once plants become established (two or three weeks after planting), they are relatively drought tolerant and one of Texas' toughest natives. Bluebonnets form ground-hugging rosettes, only several inches tall, but with a spread up to dinner-plate size. The plant will not grow rapidly (no matter how much you water or fertilize) until warm spring temperatures prompt flower stalks. Beneath the rosette of leaves, a large mass of roots has the ability to form nitrogen-fixing nodules called Rhizobium which are filled with beneficial bacteria that can take nitrogen from the atmosphere and feed the plant. Fertilize sparingly unless plants are pale green/yellowish. Use a water soluble fertilizer (like MiracleGro) when watering. Be careful not to place transplants too deep. The crown should not be buried; the plant will rot.

Photo credit: Dr. Jerry Parsons

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