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Texas bluebonnets are not reacting to the state's winter storm the way you might think

Lee Rood
Austin American-Statesman

That deep freeze in February might have been good for one thing: the often spectacular show of bluebonnets that begins each year in Central Texas around the end of March and continues through April.

Andrea DeLong-Amaya, horticulture director at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, said snow acted as an insulator for the lovely lupines and other wildflowers that adapt to colder temperatures.

“This cold spell is likely to reset things so the flowers bloom during their normal time. I was worried things were moving too fast due to all of the warm weather" prior to the cold, she said.

Dead or dormant?:How to tell if your plants survived Texas' winter blast

But DeLong-Amaya said any plants that started to bloom early, such as a few spiderworts and redbuds, were likely knocked back by the historic winter storm.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, shown with Texas bluebonnets in bloom, showcases more than 600 Texas native plants. Bluebonnets are likely to bounce back from last month's storm, the center says.

“The further along toward blooming they already were, the worse off they’ll be,” she said.

Plants on the northern edge of their growing ranges also might not do well, such as the fragrant, vase-shaped huisache or retama flowering bushes.

“They may freeze to the ground and die,” she said.

Around Austin, the winter storm definitely turned the leaves brown on native oak trees, but they should be fine. "They normally lose their leaves anyway in March and put out new leaves," she said.

DeLong-Amaya said what will happen to different plants and trees depends on the species and the microclimate involved, but she doesn't see a lot of native plants and trees suffering. 

"A lot of nonnative stuff will be just gone," she said.

Go here for an idea of when things bloom “normally." Or look here for bluebonnet and other wildflower updates.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Andrea DeLong-Amaya's name.