by Merilyn Cranford, Somervell County Master Gardener
As spring is just around the corner, be on the lookout for the Texas Bluebonnet. This Texas trademark is to Texas what a shamrock is to Ireland. The Texas Bluebonnet, or lupines texensis, is the state flower as all Texans know. Native American (Texans) wove fascinating folk tales around this special wildflower, crediting them with everything from having natural medicinal qualities to being spiritual messengers from the heavens.
Just how this delicate blue beauty became the official state flower is a little-known story. In 1901, when the issue was up for a vote in the state legislature, the bluebonnet was running second to the cotton flower and the bloom of the Prickly Pear advocated by John Nance Garner who later became vice-president of the United States. However, his efforts were unsuccessful and bowed to the lobbying efforts of a ladies group who made sure the bluebonnet was designated as the official flower of Texas.
Those who have tried to grow this beautiful wildflower, understand that patience is the primary ingredient. Therefore, it may take several years to establish a good stand of bluebonnets in your yard. For the most successful results, plant the seeds in October through November. The seeds will germinate in the fall and grow throughout the winter, usually blooming around the end of March to mid-May. Choose a sunny, well-drained location with slightly alkaline soil. With a little rain and a lot of patience the results will be a blue blanket of beautiful bluebonnets that return year after year.