Lupinus Plant

(Lupine Flower)

Lupinus plant and Lupines are also known as Blue Bonnet flower
Blue Bonnet wildflowers are the Texas state flower (Lupinus texensis). 


Lupines are from the Fabaceae family, or Pea Family.  It is a genus of about 200 fragrant, spice scented species of annuals, perennials and semi-evergreens and evergreen shrubs around the world.  In North America there are approximately 70 species of herbaceous perennials that are native throughout the country.  Annuals are found more in the Mediterranean and North, Central & South America.

Not only are these great flowers to attract butterflies but Lupines are butterfly host plants to many butterfly species.  Most noted, host plants of the Blues in the Lycaenidae family, or Gossamer-winged butterflies.  Lupines also are flowers for hummingbirds and offer deer resistant plants.

There are the wildflowers and then there are  the lupine  cultivars.  The native wildflowers are hard to propagate and don't transplant well.  It was when Lupine flowers were hybridized commercially for garden lupine (Lupine polyphyllus) when they gained popularity.


Collectively Lupines prefer acidic soil that is rich, moist and well drained.  They bloom in June in most areas of the country, otherwise spring through summer in temperate climates.  They grow well with full sun but require shade in areas where summers are extremely long and hot.





Preferred cultivars include Popsicle hybrids, which grow about 18-24 inches (46-61 cm) but most popular are the George Russell hybrids which average 30 inches (76 cm).  Cultivars have green lanced shaped leaves that form a circle of 'wheel spokes' off of their stem.  Colors that are available include blue, pink, red, yellow, purple, cream, lavender, maroon, salmon and many bi-colors. 


By far the most popular are purple lupine, blue lupine and yellow lupine. 

The Lupinus plant is great for natural gardening and cottage gardens.  They are great border plants for many garden layouts because they grow so tall.  Because of their height, it's best to grow Lupines in clusters and if placing in a windy areas it's likely you'll need to stake them.

  • It's better to purchase already seeded and growing plants.  When started from seed it takes about 2-3 years for the Lupine flower to bloom.  If sowing seeds yourself, do so in fall and early spring and soak them before planting.  Seeds germinate in about 20 days.

  • Because Lupines are herbaceous they can be propagated through their tender, leafy stems.  Be aware cuttings are prone to disease so sterilize knives, planters and also plant in sterilized soil mix.  Do basal cuttings in mid-spring.  It's also a good idea to wash hands.

  • When thriving Lupinus plant spreads abundantly that it's likely that it will need to be divided about every 3 years.  While many plants can be divided easily, lupine roots are very hardy and held together tightly.  It's likely you'll have to cut them with scissors or simply chop with a cleaver.

  • Deadhead the Lupine plant to prevent seed formation and retain the plants through strength.  Cut back to ground and possibly produce a second crop of blooms, but also this allows for any later seasonal perennial plant to bloom.

  • The Lupinus plant requires a lot of water.  It is prone to bacterial spots, downy mildew, powdery mildew, rust, stem rot and southern blight (white mold).  There are Lupine plants that are resistant to blight.  Using garden mulch is a good idea.  As far as insects, Lupines are prone to Aphids.





FYI:

  • Like all legumes, the lupinus plant fixes nitrogen in the soil.
     
    Because they grow well in poor soils, plant is used in hard soils to loosen.  The deep roots add nitrogen and air into soil.  It is important to pull plant up in a timely manner from roots before it re-seeds.  After this, soil will then be ready for new and different flower plantings.  So save your lupine seeds, you may need them! 




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