Plant Answers  >  Lady Bird Royal Blue Texas Bluebonnet

Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue Texas Bluebonnets

Wildseed Farms ( has added a new Bluebonnet seed to the family. Our Lady Bird Royal Blue has been selected as a "Texas Superstar" by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturists.

"What makes the Lady Bird Royal Blue Bluebonnet so special, you ask?" The rich, deep cobalt blue flowers and number of blooms per plant are the main reasons. With more blooms, you get the added advantage of producing as much as 25-40 percent more seed than traditional "roadside" bluebonnets. This trait works with "Mother Nature" to expand your personal Bluebonnet patch faster. Truly an OMG Bluebonnet!

Bluebonnets cannot tolerate poorly drained, clay based soils. Seed planted in poorly drained soils will germinate, but plants will never fully develop. Seedlings will become either stunted or turn yellow and soon die. Prefers a sloped area in light to gravelly, well drained, soil. Bluebonnets require 8 hours of direct sun.

Suggested Use: Raised flower beds, half wooden barrels, hanging baskets, mixtures, hillsides, roadsides and meadows. Miscellaneous: Easy to grow from seed providing you do not have an overabundance of rainfall and Plant in well drained soils. Seed is scarified for quick germination.

$25.00 1/4 lb.
$10.20 oz.
$2.19 pkt.

‘Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue’ Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis Hook.)

Larry A. Stein1, Jerry M. Parsons2 and R. Daniel Lineberger3

1 Professor and Extension Horticulturist, Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center, P.O. Box 1849, Uvalde, TX, 78802-1849,

2 Professor and Retired Extension Horticulturist, 8415 Crooked Stream, San Antonio, TX 78254,

3 Professor of Horticulture, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2133,

The six Lupinus L. species native to Texas were designated as the Texas state flower by the state legislature in 1971. The most widespread bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis Hook.) is a winter annual that produces predominately violet-blue (violet-blue group 96A, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), 1982) flower spikes in early to middle spring. This species is used widely in impressive floral displays along roadsides throughout much of the state (Andrews, 1986). In 1985, a breeding project was initiated to develop bluebonnet cultivars to use as bedding plants. A primary objective of the project was to develop novel bluebonnet flower colors. Color variants exist in native populations but are quite rare. ‘Abbott Pink’ was the first cultivar to be developed (Parsons and Davis, 1993), followed by ‘Barbara Bush’ lavender (Parsons et al., 1994) and ‘Texas Maroon’ (Mackay et al., 2000). ‘Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue’ was developed by recurrently selecting for flower color, and is the fourth seed-propagated cultivar to be released from this project. This cultivar is intended for use as a bedding plant and is named after the late Lady Bird Johnson who enthusiastically encouraged highway beautification with bluebonnets being a key component.

This striking cobalt blue color was derived from an isolated planting of another possible new color of red (red group 46A, Royal Horticultural Society, 1982) bluebonnets in 2006. The red colored isolates were saved from a ‘Texas Maroon’ bluebonnet field. Several cobalt blue plants were identified with the seed being harvested and saved. This seed produced a population composed of approximately 75% cobalt blue plants in spring, 2007. Cobalt blue flowers were selected for two more years until a pure (more than 99 percent) cobalt blue-flowered population was obtained. This line has been isolated and maintained and is now being released as ‘Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue’. Seed collected from ‘Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue’ will not remain pure unless plantings are isolated from other sexually compatible taxa of Lupinus. Plantings are grown routinely in fields separated by a distance of more than two miles from other bluebonnet selections.

Plants form dense rosettes in autumn and then bloom the following March or April, depending on the location and weather. The bloom period of individual plants is 3 to 5 weeks, with individual flowers being attractive for a week or more depending on weather conditions and plant culture. Plants are 30-50 cm tall and have a mounded form 50-70 cm in diameter at full bloom. Leaves are alternate, palmately compound with five leaflets. Leaflets are yellow-green (RHS 146B), oblanceolate, 3-5 cm long, and 12 to16 cm wide at their widest point. The plant produces 120 to 200 racemes/m2 of ground surface. Racemes are dark blue; i.e. violet blue, almost purple (violet-red group 93A), 9 to 12 cm long, 2-4 cm in diameter and contain 20 to 35 flowers. Flowers are papilionaceous, fragrant, 1-2 cm long, borne on a 6-12-mm long pedicel. Fruits are pubescent legumes 30-50 mm long and 6-10 mm wide with 4-7 seeds each. Seeds are light to medium brown in color occasionally speckled with black, weighing ≈3.5 g/100 seeds.

The average yield for a planted acre of bluebonnets harvested with a combine is 100-120 pounds per acre. Over one-half of the seed is lost during harvesting due to shattering of the pods. However, the 'Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue' selection produced over four times (580 pounds per acre) as much seed per acre as any bluebonnet color ever harvested during the 2010 harvest (John Thomas, personal communication).

Seeds must be acid scarified to obtain optimal germination (Davis et al., 1991). Germination of untreated, one-year-old seed is 65 percent within 30 days. If seeds are soaked in concentrated sulfuric acid for an hour, the germination will be 90 percent within 10 days. Irrigation or rainfall is needed to trigger germination, but once plants are established, they require little additional irrigation under central Texas climatic conditions. The plants grow well in most soilless media (Personal communication, Peterson Brothers Nursery). The plants overwinter in U.S. Dept. of Agriculture hardiness zones 8 to 11 (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, 1990) and often survive winter in zone 7. Chilling is not required for flowering.

Except for having a unique flower color, Figs. 1 A, B, the garden performance of ‘Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue’ is indistinguishable from the species type in appearance, growth rate and flowering habit. ‘Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue’ has been grown successfully from seed outdoors in the following Texas locations: San Antonio, Fredericksburg, Eagle Lake, College Station and Castroville, Texas.

Seed will be available from Wildseed Farms, Fredricksburg, TX at:

Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue Bluebonnets at Wildseed Farms in 2014


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