Crazy pink bluebonnets


Those crazy pink bluebonnets I accidentally bought last spring are thumbing their little pink noses at the extreme heat we’ve been having and are STILL blooming.

Texas bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis ) normally peak in early to mid-April, and by June they’ve ceded the fields and highway medians to the yellow-golds of the summer wildflowers. But these pinkies are still going strong, throwing my summer color scheme out of whack. Half of this plant has reverted to the normal blue (see the blue bluebonnet back there?), giving it another strange twist.

And yet I can’t bear to pull them out. I’m not usually tender-hearted about pulling plants, but these have become like a freak show to me, and I can’t help being curious to see what they’ll do next.

All material © 2006-2008 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

22 Responses

  1. Iris says:

    I think they’re quite lovely and a very soothing shade of pink! Some trivia about experiments in painting prison walls pink to keep prisoners calmer is also coming to my clearly heat-addled brain.

    Hee, hee—feeling like a prisoner of summer already, Iris? I hear ya. —Pam

  2. Anna says:

    How interesting? They should be done huh? I have a bunch of pansies every year that looks stunning just as it needs to come out—but it’s not a science experiment like your little project above. Keep us posted.

    I love your new header. And I think you have a wonderful blog. You must love your clients since you respond to so many of us that you hardly know. I’m really impressed.

    Thanks for your kind comment, Anna. I really appreciate it. The conversations with commentors is one of the best things about blogging, and I’m grateful to each person who takes the time to leave me a note. As it happens, meeting and talking gardens with clients is also one of the most enjoyable parts of my garden design business. —Pam

  3. Anna says:

    I just added my weblog addy–forgot to do that in my last post.

  4. Gail says:

    Will you collect the seed? It will be most interesting to see the offspring! Nature plays around with us, doesn’t she, messing with our design plans.

    You know, I hardly ever collect seed from anything, and I haven’t collected any from these pink bluebonnets. I generally just let seeds fall where they will. I’m hoping that any seedlings next year will have reverted to the true blue that I wanted in the first place. The pinks have been fun, not to mention surprising, but when it comes to bluebonnets, I’m a classic kind of girl. —Pam

  5. Frances says:

    Hi Pam, those are tough cookies! Maybe the color is more heat tolerant? You may have to rethink your color scheme to include pink, that color reminds me of fruity sangria where the ice cubes have melted and watered down the color. There’s a refreshing thought on a hot humid day.

    Watery sangria—I like the way your thought process leads, Frances. :-) —Pam

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Pam, just as I started to read this I thought to myself that the Bluebonnets should be finished by this
    time. What an unusual plant. I don’t blame you for watching what it might do next. Aren’t plants
    the most interesting things???

    You never know what they’ll do next! —Pam

  7. I find that if you deadhead and water bluebonnets that you can usually have them into June.

    Oh yes? These have had supplemental water, but I haven’t bothered to deadhead. I find it interesting, though, that the pinks have rebloomed while the blues quit. In fact, I pulled up the blue bluebonnet early last week. It was done. —Pam

  8. Nancy Bond says:

    I’m glad you didn’t pull them out — they’re wonderful mutations and obviously well suited to your garden. :)

    They seem to like it here, don’t they? Thanks, Nancy. —Pam

  9. The bluebonnets that I bought already budded for the new front garden have been done for weeks, but the ones that seeded themselves in the Bat Bed still have a few flowers. I don’t know why. I also don’t know why the Cupani sweet peas and yellow snapdragons keep blooming even though it’s nearly one hundred every day. But being puzzled is not anything like making a complaint, right Pam? Let them bloom!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Let ‘em bloom indeed. I’m hardly in the garden in this heat to notice anyway. ;-) —Pam

  10. chuck b. says:

    In this picture, your pink bluebonnet looks a lot like this new cultivar which became available from Annie’s Annuals this year, Lupinus succulentus ‘Rodeo Rose’. I bought one for my garden, and one for my client’s. Mine got atrociously leggy and had to go, but my client’s looks good.

    Still, I completely understand your antipathy.

    This may be the new “maroon” cultivar of Lupinus texensis developed a few years ago as a Texas A&M (Aggie) colored bluebonnet. But it seems pinker than photos of the maroon, so I’m not entirely sure. At any rate, it isn’t what I thought I was buying, but it sure has performed well. —Pam

  11. cindee says:

    Those are a very pretty shade of pink too!!! I wouldn’t rip them out either. Interesting they are holding in the heat. I love plants that can hold up in the heat. Have a great day!!!

    For a spring-blooming bluebonnet, they’re definitely holding their own in the heat, reblooming in the very hottest, sunniest part of my garden. —Pam

  12. Nancy says:

    I wonder what color the self seeded plants will be next year? A mix of blue and pink?

    Lee at The Grackle told me that the pink/maroon ones revert to blue in a year or two. That will be fine with me. —Pam

  13. vertie says:

    Those bluebonnets must not have heard you talking smack about them earlier in the year! Or maybe they did and realized that their only hope for survival was to hang on and bloom for dear life.

    It’s a good strategy. I was about to rip them out when I noticed how they had started reblooming. —Pam

  14. Are these the “Aggie” maroon bonnets? They look a lighter shade. It is always fun to have plants reproduce in a new color. This year I have some of the native tickseed which are almost completely burgundy colored instead of the yellow with the dark I. I wonder what you will get next year?
    Jenny

    Perhaps, Jenny, though they were labeled as regular old blue bluebonnets when I bought them. They have always looked a little lighter to me too, though I’m not aware of other pink cultivars besides the maroon Aggie ones. —Pam

  15. Bren says:

    I put some of these in and enjoyed them all last summer. Our winter was too hard and I lost them. :-( You have inspired me to go find more! Enjoy – Thanks for sharing your wonderful work.

    It’s good to hear from gardeners who appreciate the pink bluebonnets. I’ll try to be more appreciative myself. Thanks for commenting. —Pam

  16. Consider it a new challenge to work these pinkies into the color scheme. Any plant that performs so well with so little effort is worth trying to save. I like pink & black. Do you have anything black you could grow with it?

    You rarely see dark-foliage plants here in Austin. It’s just too hot for them, I guess. The few that I do have (purple heart, oxalis) grow in the shade. —Pam

  17. Aiyana says:

    The pink bluebonnet is beautiful. Is it a hybrid? What would make them revert back to blue? I too can’t bear to pull up flowering plants. I have some Scarlet Pimpernel that came up voluntarily and I just couldn’t pull it up. It has now taken over a portion of one flower bed, so I’m now forced to deal with it harshly.
    Aiyana

    Aiyana, the pink bluebonnet is a naturally occurring color variation, albeit a rare one. If you care to read through the link I provided, you’ll see how some intrepid Aggie (Texas A&M) plantsmen crossed the pink and blue bluebonnets, trying to make a red bluebonnet. Instead they got a maroon bluebonnet. Maroon is A&M’s school color, and the rest is history. I’m not sure whether I got the maroon or the pink bluebonnet (it was labeled as blue), but I now suspect it’s the pink. —Pam

  18. jodi says:

    Finally getting a chance to drop in and catch up a bit, Pam. First, I love the look of your blog update. Second, these pink bluebonnets are SO cool. I hope you’re saving seed. I wish they would grow here, though I don’t think they would except as annuals. I’ve never seen them in anyone’s garden up here (the blue OR the mutant pink).

    My garden is a mess. It needs rescue therapy, as in three days of me working in it without rain, etc. Not gonna happen anytime soon, I’m sure. Oh well. It’s happy being wild!

    Hi, Jodi. Thanks for dropping in. I’m feeling a little guilty as so many seed-savers have commented here, but no, I’m not saving seed. I hardly save seed from anything—it’s just not a gardening practice I’ve gotten into. I do, however, let my plants scatter seed where they may, and then I await seedlings for transplanting or giving away in the fall or spring. Must be my cottage-gardening laziness. You are right—the Texas bluebonnet does not seem to grow well without the Texas heat. By the way, I wish you’d send us some of your surplus rain! —Pam

  19. Ken Smith says:

    This is my first comment to your website. I like your many photos and your great text. I am just getting started w/a garden photo blog site and appreciate learning from you and others. Gardening here in Seattle has been interesting this year due to the slow starts from cool weather. Cheers.

    Hi, Ken. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Ah, Seattle—the gardener’s paradise, yes? Your cool weather sounds delightful to me right about now. Your photos are incredible, by the way. I look forward to seeing more. —Pam

  20. Hi, Pam. LOVE THE PINK ONES. They are beautiful. They are inviting you to Think Outside the Box! On many fronts, it would seem. So they are your Teachers at the moment. Things are not always as they seem. My hit–they will never go blue. Too late for that. But do collect the seeds. I’d take them in a heartbeat! I love the new and different! (I also love PINK!) Kathryn xox

    Thanks for the pink affirmation, Kathryn. As you may already suspect, I don’t really hate these crazy pink bluebonnets—else they’d already be gone. They do amuse me, which is why I keep posting about them. And I love pink too, though not this wishy-washy pink so much. Give me hot pink or candy pink! —Pam

  21. Barbee' says:

    Wish I looked as good in the heat!
    Can’t grow lupines here, wrong pH, too much limestone. But, I surly enjoy seeing those of others. I think yours are beautiful. Glad you didn’t pull them. Now, I’m going back for another look :)

    Me too. Although I do get rather pink-faced. ;-) I don’t know about other kinds of lupines, but the Texas bluebonnet loves limestone soil. That’s what we have out here, and the bluebonnet thrives in the gravelly, thin soil around limestone outcroppings. —Pam

  22. Morgan says:

    I think they are beautiful! I have never seen those kind of blue bonnets. Thank you for sharing it with me!