By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Arroyo lupine plants are the welcome signs of spring on the rocky slopes and grasslands of the Western United States. Pollinators are highly attracted to these plants and the seeds sustain small wildlife critters. For more arroyo lupine information, click here.
By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Desert lupine is a wildflower that grows across the southwestern United States and parts of northern Mexico. This nectar-rich desert wildflower is highly attractive to a number of pollinators, including honeybees and bumblebees. Learn more here.
By Liz Baessler
Bigleaf lupine is a big, tough, flowering plant that is sometimes grown as an ornamental but is also often battled as a weed. Click on the following article to learn more about growing bigleaf lupines and when bigleaf lupine control is the best option.
By Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
Lupines are attractive and spiky, reaching 1 to 4 feet in height and add color and texture to the back of a flowerbed. This article has information on planting lupines in this garden.
From the Latin lupus, a wolf (destroyer), because it was thought that the plants depleted the fertility of the soil by sheer numbers (Leguminosae). Lupine. A genus of over 300 species of annuals, perennials, and subshrubs, mainly from North America, though there are a few Mediterranean species which, since Roman times, have been used for green manuring. This is surprising since the Roman farmers did not know that within the root nodules were colonies of bacteria capable of utilizing nitrogen to produce valuable nitrates. The fine Russell hybrid lupines are among the showiest of herbaceous perennials and have a wide color range embracing the three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. They do not, however, thrive on alkaline (chalky or limy) soils.
Perennial species cultivated L. nootkatensis, 1 foot, blue, purple and yellow, May-July, north-west America. L. polyphyllus, 4 feet, blue, white or pink, June-August, California. Shrubby: L. arboreus, 6 feet, short-lived, yellow, white or violet, fragrant, summer, California. L. excubicus, 1-5 feet, blue, violet, summer, California var. hallii (syn. L. paynei), larger flowers.
Russell hybrids These well-loved hybrids have developed from a cross made at the end of the last century between L. arboreus and L. polyphyllus. Some years later a seedling with rose-pink flowers appeared, L. p. roseus, and with the help of this, Mr George Russell was able to develop and select the superb colors and strong spikes that are available today in the now famous Russell strain.
Some good cultivars are: ‘Betty Astell’, 3 feet, deep pink ‘Blue Jacket’, 3 feet, deep blue and white `Fireglow’, 3 feet, orange and gold ‘George Russell’, 4 feet, pink and cream ‘Gladys Cooper’, 4-5 feet, smoky blue ‘Joan of York’, 4 feet, cerise and pink ‘Josephine’, 4 feet, slate blue and yellow ‘Lady Diana Abdy’, 3 feet, blue and white ‘Lady Fayne’, 3 feet, coral and rose ‘Lilac Time’, 3 feet, rosy-lilac ‘Mrs Micklethwaite’, 3 feet, salmon-pink and gold ‘Mrs Noel Terry’, 3 feet, pink and cream Thundercloud’, 3 feet, blue and rose-mauve.
Cultivation The most popular section is that of the perennial species, which are easily grown in any sunny border that has not too much lime or chalk. Mulch with compost in spring and cut down the old flower stems in October.
The Russell lupines are now available from seed, though the named forms are still raised from cuttings of young growths in March. These are not among the longest-lived plants and it is wise to renew them from time to time. Since they may be raised from seed sown in drills inch deep in April and put in their final places in the autumn. Many will flower during the following summer.
The tree lupine, L. arboreus, may be raised from seed with extreme ease. These shrubs make rapid growth, and will flower in their second season. They are, however, not long-lived, but generally manage to renew themselves by self-sown seedlings. The shrubby lupine, L. excubicus, makes a fine large plant, but needs some frost protection. Like most lupines, this has very fragrant flowers
Choose a planting site with good drainage and in full sun.
Prepare the soil by amending it with a coarse media like sand--lupines thrive in well-textured soil. Till the soil to make it loose and provide room for the roots to spread.
Use a file to create a divot on the surface of each seed. This is called scarification, the process of penetrating the seed coat for faster germination.
Plant seeds in early spring, 3/4 of an inch to 1 3/4 inches deep. Mature plants can grow up to 2 feet across, so allow 7 to 10 inches between seeds. Germination should occur in a few weeks with consistent temperatures from 65 to 70 degrees F.
Keep the soil moist while the seedlings establish themselves.
Cut back the stalks after the first set of flowers appear, typically in the first half of the growing season.
Allow the plant to drop seeds in the fall before cutting back foliage for the winter. Lupines will establish and return every year by self-seeding.
Colorful, spiky lupines grow wild from the coast of Maine (thank you, Miss Rumphius) to Texas (where they were legally renamed “bluebonnets” by an official act of the state legislature in 1901). Also native to Mediterranean regions and Africa, lupines are as graceful as they are theatrical. Just don’t expect these temperamental flowers to be the backbone of a tamed flower border. (Even in optimal growing conditions, they will be short-lived perennials.)
Decades of cross breeding by English horticulturalist George Russell created a rainbow of flower colors to add to the old-fashioned (but best-loved) blue and purple lupine varieties. Pink, yellow, orange, red, white, and two-color cultivars are widely available.
English garden designer Gertrude Jekyll liked her lupines in the kitchen garden and it is worth remembering that these flowers are members of the pea family. Lupines are contented companions to spinach, squash, and cucumbers.
Plan to sow your lupine seeds in the spring, after all threat of frost has passed.
Plant in a site that receives full sunlight.
Loosen the soil with a pitchfork to a depth of 6 inches. Remove sticks, rocks and other debris. Add 1/2 gallon of sand and 1/2 gallon of compost to the soil and mix thoroughly if the soil is wet clay.
Soak the lupine seeds in a bowl of water for 24 hours before planting.
Make 1 to 2 inch deep holes in the soil by hand or with a garden trowel. Space the holes 8 to 10 inches apart.
Place a seed into each hole and cover it with soil.
Water the growing site until it is thoroughly moist, not soggy. Mist the area every two to three days.
Apply a general all-purpose plant fertilizer to the growing site once the seedlings are four weeks old. Repeat at eight weeks. Follow the dosage instructions on the manufacturer’s label.
Clip the flower stems completely back once the blooms fade to encourage further growth.
Avoid cutting back the foliage in the fall until after the plant’s seeds have dropped.
Wild lupine can be planted in the fall. If you opt for fall planting, do not soak the seeds before sowing.