Texas has over 5,000 species of wildflowers (Source: Texas Department of Transportation, “TxDOT”). The Wildflower Program began in 1932 and since then TxDOT has maintained and encouraged wildflowers along rights of way. It buys and sows over 30,000 pounds of seeds each year which help control erosion and provide a habitat for wildlife. In eight of the eleven Natural Regions of Texas Bluebonnets top the list in the wildflower program.
But, in terms of beauty, Texas Bluebell tops the list in my opinion. The flowers with five petals have a striking blue color and are at least two to four inches across on erect stems one to two feet tall. Best of all it blooms in summer when everything else looks a little crisp around the edges.
In the early 1930’s Brenham Creamery Company decided to change its name to Blue Bell Creameries in honor of the wildflower growing in abundance in the fields around it in Brenham.
Texas Bluebell, Eustoma exaltatum ssp russellianum (syn. Eustoma grandiflorum) belongs to the Gentian family. Plants in this family produce some of the purest blues in flower colors. It prefers moist locations in prairies, ditches, and edges of ponds, not standing water. Its native distribution ranges from Nebraska, S.E. Wyoming to Texas and Mexico. It does well in cultivation and is an excellent cut flower. Probably, one of the reasons TxDot has a warning not to pick these wildflowers growing in the right of way, as it eliminates the chance for setting seed.
The seeds are very fine, require light to germinate and may be difficult to germinate. Seeds started indoors need temperatures of at least 70-75°F. It may take several months for seeds to germinate but it is worth the wait.
For more information on seeing wild flowers in bloom in Texas download this brochure Wildflower Drives and visit the Wildflower Capital of Texas, de Witt County, 132 miles southeast of San Antonio.