Weatherford Democrat

April 6, 2013

ASK A MASTER GARDENER: How to grow bluebonnets


Weatherford Democrat

— Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to pcmgaquestions@gmail.com. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.

How do I grow bluebonnets?

The secret to growing bluebonnets is to act like Mother Nature. Bluebonnets grow best in poor soil that is undisturbed, such as in much of central Texas.

Bluebonnet seeds have a tough outer coat that must be worn away in order for moisture to penetrate. If you purchase “scarified” seeds and broadcast them on top of the ground in October, you will give them the best chance.

(Scarification means scratching, notching or wearing down by mechanical or chemical means, hard seed hulls to promote germination.)

Now all you do is wait. You may not see any flowers the first year as they will not germinate until fall conditions are just right. Once seeds begin to grow, it is very important to let them develop mature seeds before you mow or remove the plants; otherwise you must plant again in the spring.

More information about growing bluebonnets can be found at aggiehorticulture.tamu.edu/wildseed/39/39.5.html.

My clippers and pruners are rusty; what can I do?

If you store tools in the closed position they may retain moisture from the plants you were cutting, causing rust. It is wise to leave them open so they can dry thoroughly. Spray garden tools with WD-40 and wipe them dry after use. You can also keep a bucket of sand with motor oil poured on top. When you plunge tools into this, it not only coats them but keeps them sharp. Then simply hang them to dry and store them open. Remember to always wipe tools well before using to prevent damage to plants.

Can Red Yucca (hesperaloe parviflora) be transplanted, and when?

(Responses from master gardeners)

• I’ve transplanted these several times (early spring with good results) this year in February; I divided two huge ones into about 15 smaller ones. Most important things are that root is long enough and you should cut top back after you plant so roots can grow.

• I have had no problems transplanting red yuccas. As long as there is a good root system, there shouldn’t be a problem. Now would be a good time to transplant (early April). Can propagate by dividing rhizomes and offsets or can be started from ripe seeds in the fall. Treat like cactus and don’t over water.