The bright blue blooms of the bluebonnet flower are a prevalent sight growing alongside roadways throughout Texas, so it is no wonder that it is the state's flower. There are five varieties of the genus Lupinus that grow in the state; they are well-known as bluebonnet wildflowers. Bluebonnets grow in other states, as well, and are commonly grown in home gardens.
The bluebonnet grows up to 2 feet in height and consists of a group of vibrant blue flowers that resemble sweet-pea blooms growing at the end of a stem like a spike. Occasionally, the bluebonnet's flowers will have some white interspersed in the blooms, and sometimes the flowers are pink--but the blue bluebonnet is the most widely recognized color. Bluebonnets are perennial flowers in the wild, but in some areas of the United States they are grown as annuals.
Bluebonnets have a rich history linked to the state of Texas. The bluebonnet has been well-recognized as the state's flower since 1901. Originally the Lupinus subcarnosus was voted to be the state's official flower, but later in the 1970s it was decided by the Texas legislature that all varieties of bluebonnet growing in the state would be included. Since there are five varieties of bluebonnets growing in Texas, in reality the state has not one, but five state flowers.
Lupinus subcarnosus, Lupinus texensis, Lupinus Havardii, Lupinus concinnus and Lupinus plattensis are all common varieties of the bluebonnet flower. The blue-colored variety of blue bonnets are the most prevalent and easy to find in both home gardens and in the wild. The white and pink varieties of bluebonnet are not as common, but are more widely available today due to the work of botanists who have worked to isolate the genes of the non-blue varieties for gardeners to grow at home.
Bluebonnet seeds look like small, flat peas and are multi-colored. Bluebonnet seeds are difficult to germinate, so some gardeners soak the seeds before planting them to weaken the hard exterior of the seed. While it might seem to go against the traditional practice of planting seeds in spring, bluebonnet seeds do better if they are planted outdoors in September or October. In nature, the seeds germinate in the fall and spend the winter creating a good root system, and they will grow the same way in the home garden.
Bluebonnets prefer sandy, well-drained soil and need a sunny location. Bluebonnet plants will not thrive if they do not have 8 to 10 hours of sun every day, so avoid shady locations. The plant will grow foliage and stay low to the ground throughout winter and then grow taller when the weather begins to warm up. If sowing seeds in the fall, cover with a very thin layer of dirt and mulch. If transplanting seedlings, be sure not to bury the crown where the seedling emerges. Keep an eye out for garden pests until your seedlings have established themselves in their location.