Bluebonnets are flowering plants with distinct shoots of blue, showy flowers. The flower is the state flower of Texas. Historian Jack Maguire wrote, "The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland." The Texas state parks and recreation department scatters the seeds along Texas highways so drivers who drive across the state during the spring see blankets of bluebonnets along the way.
Bluebonnet plants are small and compact. They typically grow approximately 1 foot tall. The plants produce slender shoots that are covered with small vibrantly colored flowers. Most bluebonnets--as the name implies--are blue, with white flower tips. There are some white bluebonnets as well as very rare pink bluebonnets that have only been found in Texas, south of San Antonio.
The seeds of a bluebonnet plant have a very tough outer layer that makes them difficult to germinate. It is very difficult to grow bluebonnets from seeds harvested directly from a bluebonnet plant. Seeds must be chemically scarified to ensure germination success. Seeds that are not scarified have a failure rate of 80 percent.
Bluebonnets require fast-draining acidic soil for optimal growth. Bluebonnets prefer to be planted in full sun. Bluebonnet seeds must be sown during the summer. Seeds remain dormant until late winter, when they finally germinate. The plants produce their blooms in early spring.
Bluebonnets are not particularly fragrant flowers, but they are prized for their physical beauty. The flowers are used in wildflower arrangements and are often planted in decorative containers for gift giving or home decor. Bluebonnets are popular subjects for Texas photographers.
Pill bugs (also known as roly-poly bugs) are natural enemies of the bluebonnet. Because the bugs are nocturnal, they do most of their destruction while gardeners are sleeping. A group of pill bugs can consume bluebonnet plants overnight. Prevent infestation by setting pill bug traps around the plants, replacing the traps with new ones every week.