Written by Laura Muntean, TAMU
Even though we are not seeing many just yet, be patient, Texas bluebonnets and wildflowers will come. According to a Texas A&M AgriLife expert, the freeze likely had minimal effects on both the Texas bluebonnets and wildflowers.
Larry Stein, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist based in Uvalde, explained that the majority of the bluebonnets and other Texas wildflowers were minimally, and in some cases entirely, unaffected by the freeze simply because they were still in the rosette stage of growth and were very close to the ground.
“The snow, more so than the ice, actually blanketed and insulated them, so they are in pretty good shape,” said Stein. “The only place I have seen a little bit of minor damage was where the plants were advanced and already sending up a flower stalk.”
While the cold may have burned those few with stalks back, they will recover and come back, possibly even better and more prolific than before, he said.
Numbers down, but not because of freeze
“The challenge we have this year is that not a lot of seed came up in the fall because it was so dry,” he said. “So, numbers are probably going to be down, and that’s due to being dry last fall and has nothing to do with the freeze.”
The flowers you see out in the wild may be small as well because of the lack of rainfall the last few months. If you have the ability, watering the bluebonnets is still helpful for them at this point, he explained.
If your bluebonnets don’t come up, don’t stress just yet
Chances are, if your bluebonnets did not show this year, there are still seeds in the ground. The dryness of the fall kept the seeds from germinating, so they will remain dormant until the time is right.
“Those seeds are still laying there, and that is the reason for that hard seed coat,” Stein said. “They come up over time from the simple weathering on the seed itself. Do not get discouraged. They will come up when conditions are favorable.”
More than likely, the season for bluebonnets and wildflowers will be pushed back a few weeks due to the freeze.
While a few blooms are starting to show, peak season will most likely be closer into April and varying across the state according to weather.
“Peak season also really depends on moisture,” he said. “The snow brought some, but we need more.”
Maroon bluebonnets begin to bloom in The Gardens at Texas A&M University. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Laura McKenzie)