Bluebonnet Notes: 2021 Bluebonnet Season Review

November 11, 2021  |  Big Bend, South Texas, Texas Hill Country

Though the 2021 bluebonnet season has long since passed, a brief review of each region's bloom is in order so that the predictions made prior to the season can be evaluated, and so that there is a record of what took place for posterity's sake. Each region is rated on a scale of 1-5. Obviously, with limited time one can only cover so much of any given area, and all opinions regarding bloom quality are subjective. The ratings are assigned as follows:

  • 1 - Bad (ex. 2018 Texas Hill Country)
  • 2 - Could have been better
  • 3 - Good
  • 4 - Great
  • 5 - Outstanding (ex. 2010 Texas Hill Country, 2019 Big Bend)

This season presented a couple of challenges for me. First, obviously, was trying to locate flowers after less than optimal fall and winter rainfall. But the main issue I faced was trying to do it in a borrowed vehicle, since my truck broke down and was out of commission for the entirety of the bluebonnet season. Nevertheless, I managed to make do and find a few things here and there.

Another factor that made this season interesting was the colder winter and all the snow and ice that fell in Texas this year. It caused a delayed bloom in most areas, and I didn't understand how much it would affect things as it was happening.

The Big Bend

This was my fourth time heading to the Big Bend in search of bluebonnets, and my take away from those four years up to this point is that bluebonnet season in the Big Bend is either boom or bust, and it's usually a bust. This was the worst bluebonnet season that I have experienced in West Texas. There were almost no bluebonnets to be seen whatsoever. The very few I found were single plants in desert washes and a few along a couple of roadsides. It was disappointing, but not unexpected.

Taking the colder than normal winter into account as I look back on it, I believe I was in the Big Bend a little earlier than I should have been (February 28 to March 2). That's not to say that there would have been anymore bluebonnets had I been a week or two later, but I think I would have seen a few more than I did. Social media, which can be useful for determining the scope of a bloom, did not have many photographs of Big Bend bluebonnets.

Rating: 1 - A poor display.

South Texas

I travelled through Atascosa, Wilson, and Gonzales counties expecting to see very few flowers, and was pleasantly surprised to see that I had been wrong in my prediction. Not completely wrong, but my expectations were very low and every field of flowers I found, regardless of how sparse they might have seemed in other years, was a welcome sight.

In previous years Atascosa County had been the main focus of my bluebonnet searches, but the lack of flowers in the areas I'm most familiar with caused me to expand my search to new areas. Since I had predicted that Wilson County would be the area most likely to have bluebonnets, that is where I chose to focus my search this year, and I was rewarded much more greatly than expected.

Rating: 2 - Though not a good year, there were some decent fields to be found in Wilson County.

Texas Hill Country

Expecting very little out of the Hill Country, I didn't spend the amount of time traversing the area that I have in years past and spent more time instead in Wilson County in South Texas. In fact, I drove the Hill Country less than I ever have since I began doing this. Of the roads I drove in Llano and Mason Counties, which were mostly the major thoroughfares, there were very few flowers to be found, with one exception. A road in southeastern Llano County, which I had never driven before 2021, had a very strong display of bluebonnets that covered approximately 3 or 4 square miles (not in a continuous display, but rather various fields existed within that area).

Rating: 1.5 - Overall a poor display, with the exception of a small area in southeastern Llano County. I have seen worse years.

2021032802, God rays over field of wildflowers

God rays over a field of sandyland bluebonnets (Lupinus subcarnosus), groundsel (Senecio ampullaceus), and other wildflowers in Wilson County in South Texas.