AUSTIN (KXAN) — If you haven’t seen the bluebonnets yet, just wait another week or two. It is going to be a great spring for bluebonnets and other early spring wildflowers like Indian paintbrush and pink evening primrose, according to Mark Simmons, Director of Research and Environmental Design at The University of Texas at Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Simmons says the soaking rains of about half an inch every two weeks in the fall and winter of 2014 are helping this season’s batch of bluebonnets thrive. “The climatic conditions for the bluebonnet have been pretty much perfect over the last six months,” explains Simmons.
In fact, the change in rainfall pattern from previously dry years means that bluebonnets will blossom in slightly different areas this spring. In dry years, bluebonnets congregate in valleys, because low-lying areas pool moisture well. In normal or above-average rainfall years, like this past fall and winter, the bluebonnets flourish best in sloping areas, where the rain can run off the plants. Too much moisture will suffocate them before they can bloom. That’s why they’ll be more prevalent on the rolling hillsides west of Austin this year.
The warmer temperatures aren’t bad for the wildflowers either. According to Simmons, air temperature doesn’t really matter now, because warm soil temperatures in the 50s and 60s are what kick off the blooming season. As long as normal rainfall takes place in the coming month, it will be a bright (and blue) spring for Central Texas.
The beautiful blooms brought Susan Schmid and her family to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. When Central Texas has a burgeoning bluebonnet year like this one, she says the number of flowers altogether “have an incredible scent.”
Schmid wasn’t the only one to comment on the spectacular flowers that are native to Texas. First grader Zoe Morehead, traveling to the Lady Bird Wildflower Center to sketch pictures with her class, says bluebonnets are her “favorite type of color.”
Bluebonnets have a six to eight week blooming period, which will end in mid-May.
Have you already come across bluebonnets this year? Send us your photos using the Report It feature on the KXAN First Warning Weather app