Lupines can be found coast to coast and are a popular wildflower in the United States. There are many lupine varieties and there are both annual and perennial versions of these flowers. One of the most well-known lupines is the state flower of Texas, the Bluebonnet.
Lupines are known for their bright, cheerful colored flower spikes. You will find them in blue, pink, purple, red, white, and yellow. There are new hybrids that have been breed in other colors including orange and bi-colored flowering lupines. The foliage of the plants is a pretty grayish-green color and the backside of the leaf is lighter with white hairs on the back. The leaves naturally repel water; which will just roll-off the leaves after it rains.
Lupines are part of the pea or legume family of plants. Lupines were used by Native Americans as food. People in all parts of the world cooked or toasted the seeds to make them edible. Another interesting fact about Lupines is they make a great companion plant for heavy feeding vegetables such as cucumbers, cabbage, and squash. These plants are capable of fixing nitrogen in the soil.
When planting your lupine you need to make sure you determine if they are annuals or perennials. Lupines can be grown from seeds or you can find plants for sale in the spring. Start your lupine seeds indoors in late winter, so you have a good size plant ready for outdoor planting in the spring. Plant them in full sun to partial shade. They like to have 8 – 10 hours in full sun. Plant them in well-drained soil and make sure they have satisfactory moisture when they are growing. If you grow your lupines in a windy location you will probably have to stake them to provide them some extra support.
The flowers grow two to three feet and will bloom from the bottom first. Lupine can be grown in a cut garden, a perennial garden or in front of a shrub border. They will be a focal point in your garden in the spring. While some people do not think they make a great cut flower if you cut them when they are not fully bloomed and put them in a vase, they will continue to bloom. If you use them in your arrangement when they are fully bloomed, the petals will start to fall.
Lupines really like cooler soil and temperatures. If you live in the south, you might want to find a location with afternoon sun to plant your lupines. You can also lightly mulch around the plants to keep the soil cool and moist.
Lupines do not need fertilizer. If they get too much fertilizer it will interfere with the blooming of the plant and will encourage foliage growth. Lupines need to have their spent blooms removed. At the end of the season, make sure you do not allow the seed heads to develop since this will prevent the energy of the plant to be redirected to the roots and foliage.
Photos Courtesy Of Jill Mazur.