Best Gardening Tips For Lupine Flower

lupine flowers

lupine flowers

Updated on 9/26/2023
Emma DowneyBy Emma Downey
Gardening Expert
Learn More about Emma Downey

Gardening tips for lupine flower will likely get you hooked on the plant for the rest of your life.

Not only is the gardener rewarded with spectacular color from spires of densely packed blooms in a diversity of hues, but the grayish-green palmate leaves also grace the landscape with fantastic texture and shape. This plant graces the garden.

Lupines are some of our favorite wildflowers throughout the United States. They range from the Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) to the stunning displays of violet-blue Arroyo (Lupinus succulents) and Lupinus polyphyllus running up the Northern Pacific Coast. Lupines may be found in every state. Perennial lupine, the traditional old-time favorite, is still hugely popular, as are the impressive Russell hybrids, which were developed from Perennial lupines during the 20th century and are available in a variety of colors, including shades of red, white, cream, orange, pink, and purple, in addition to bi-colored variants.

You'll find yourself wanting to reach out and feel the texture of the densely bunched, oh-so-touchable flowers, but you'll certainly have to wave away a host of pollinators first! Regardless of where you grow them or how you grow them, you'll find yourself wanting to reach out and feel the texture of the flowers.

When And Where Should Lupine Be Planted?

lupine flowers

lupine flowers

Pick a location that gets plenty of sunlight and has soil that drains properly. Lupines, which are classified as legumes, have the ability to increase the fertility of soil over time.


Direct exposure to the sun is ideal. Lupine is able to tolerate some shade but will produce fewer flowers as a result.


Above everything else, lupine requires soil that has a good drainage system. It grows best in soil that is on the more acidic side and cannot survive in soil that is very alkaline, or that is constantly saturated with water. Although Russell hybrids and L. polyphyllus have a greater tolerance for wet conditions than many other species, none of these plants enjoy extreme heat or humidity to the same degree.


When it comes to spacing, if you are going to distribute the seed, you should do so at a pace of about 1 pound every 1000 feet. If planting mature plants, space larger varieties 2-3' apart and smaller varieties 12-18" apart.

Lupines have deep roots and do not propagate themselves in any other way than by producing seeds. The seeds will not come true to the kind that was planted originally and will instead eventually revert to a blue-violet and white coloration.

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Before you begin planting lupines, it is imperative that you are aware of the fact that these flowers can be grown as either annuals or perennials. Although lupine seeds can produce both annual and perennial cultivars, potted lupine plants are mainly perennial cultivars. Annual cultivars have a life cycle that is completed in a single growing season, while perennial cultivars have a long lifespan and return each spring.

When it comes to plants, as soon as they are delivered in the early spring, you should immediately plant them in a hole that has been improved with grit and organic matter for proper drainage. It is important to prevent rot from developing by preventing mulch or other organic matter from touching the crown of the plant. Incorporate all the water completely.

lupine flowers

lupine flowers

When it comes to planting the seeds, lupine seeds can be sown as early as very early spring, but they have a better chance of succeeding if they are planted in late spring and allowed to overwinter. This will allow them to blossom the following spring, similar to how foxgloves do. Due to the extremely robust seed coat, it is recommended that the seeds be soaked for twenty-four to forty-eight hours before planting or that the seeds be roughened between two sheets of sandpaper. The seeds should be pressed down firmly and covered with a thin layer of dirt (about 1/8 inch) before being tamped down. This will ensure that the seeds have good contact with the soil. It may take up to ten days for the seeds to germinate after being watered in, so continue to water them sparingly if the weather is dry.

How To Plant A Lupine Regardless Of The Time Of Year

Growth Habit

Lupine has a growth habit similar to that of a rounded shrub, and its height can range anywhere from 12 to 48 inches, depending on the species or variation. The individual blooms have an appearance similar to that of peas and are arranged in a tight cluster atop many spikes that rise above the leaves.


lupine flowers

lupine flowers

If you have the time, it is a good idea to stake flower spikes on Russell hybrids as well as species that grow to a greater height. Even though they stand very straight on their own, the flower spikes can be blown over by strong winds, which causes the flower to curve as it strives to grow back towards the sun. Even though they stand very straight on their own, they can be blown over by strong winds. There is no need to stake the smaller species of wildflowers.


When it comes to watering, you should make sure that the lupine plants in your garden receive sufficient water for good root development (they are deeply rooted), but you should also let the soil dry out between waterings. This should be done for the first few months that the plants are in your garden. After that, you should only water during times of drought or spells of extreme dryness.


In terms of fertilization, additional fertilization is not required; nevertheless, a top dressing of compost is welcomed, provided that it is not applied too close to the plant's crown.

lupine flowers

lupine flowers


A little dressing of mulch is not a terrible idea, particularly in hotter climes, but it is essential that mulch not be allowed to touch the crown of the plant and cause stem rot. Mulch should be applied in a circular motion around the plant.

Trimming And Pruning

When it comes to trimming and pruning, lupine has the ability to bloom again softly on side stems if the spent flowers are quickly removed. However, if the flower has already started producing seeds in the lowest portions of its body, it is quite improbable that it will bloom again.

After the flowers have faded, the foliage loses some of its appeal in the garden and is more susceptible to developing mildew. Because completely cutting it back can kill or weaken the plant, many gardeners choose to remove the plants completely and grow lupine as biennials, placing new spring-grown plants out in the fall for the next season. This allows the plant to recover from the complete cutback without risking its life. This is especially the case in the southernmost reaches of its heat tolerance, which are characterized by oppressive levels of humidity.

Care For Lupines At The End Of The Season

lupine flowers

lupine flowers

When cultivating lupines with the intention of having them blossom the following spring, it is prudent to position them exactly where you intend for them to grow in the long run. Lupines have extensive root systems and do not adapt well to being transplanted as they become larger. In addition, they begin growing exceptionally quickly in the spring, which is the time of year when it is best to avoid digging and transplanting.

Be sure the lupine is not planted in a location that will see prolonged periods of wet soil during the winter months. This is a challenging environment for the plant to recover from.

Divide And Transplant

Lupine does not require division, and because it has such a deep tap root, it can be pretty challenging. Lupine can also be planted in new locations.

Pests And Disease

Powdery mildew is a problem that can affect lupine, especially in regions that are too hot and humid for the plant, which is not its natural environment. Pill bugs, also known as roly-polies and sow bugs, are the only significant pests that affect this plant. These bugs enjoy eating the seeds and seedlings of the plant. At the time of planting, seeds should be lightly covered with dirt so as to prevent birds from eating them.

Other Issues

lupine flowers

lupine flowers

People tend to believe that because lupine seeds are used as a crop in some parts of the world for the production of food, all lupine seeds can be consumed. This raises additional safety concerns. However, they are quite particular species; some of the farmed forms and hybrids have been shown to be poisonous. Because of this, the seeds should not be utilized in any way that is culinary, and parents should teach their children not to put pea-like seeds in their mouths.

Lupine: Extra Info

Wildflower Species Of Lupine

 Wildflower species of lupine, such as L. perennis or L. texasis, look absolutely magnificent when carpeting a meadow or when planted in conjunction with another early summer wildflower, such as California poppy or Indian paintbrush. Both of these combinations create a spectacular display.

Planting tulip bulbs and lupine starts together in the fall is one of the most eye-catching pairings observed with garden lupines (both Russell hybrids and huge species). The foliage of the lupine has developed wonderfully by the time spring arrives, making it an attractive backdrop for the tulips. When the tulips have finished blooming, the lupines are close behind, and their own leaves help to highlight their beauty.

lupine flowers

lupine flowers

The lupine is a wonderful addition to cottage gardens and works well in combination with other time-honored favorites such as allium, globe thistle, and phlox. Because hybrids come in such a wide variety of hues, the possible combinations are virtually limitless.

Further Uses

Lupine flowers are a plant that is resistant to deer and would be an excellent addition to a landscape that has problems with four-footed pruners such as deer. Because of the variety of bees and butterflies drawn to the multicolored and bicolored flowers they produce, they are an excellent choice for pollinator gardens.

Lupines are a type of legume, which means they are capable, in symbiosis with soil bacteria, of fixing airborne nitrogen in the soil and turning it into useable nodules on their roots, which can enrich the soil. This is especially true if the lupines are turned under as green manure. The fertility of the soil can be increased through the intensive planting of lupine.

As was mentioned earlier, several regions of the world cultivate the seeds of lupine for their very high levels of protein (over 50%), and research is currently being conducted to determine whether or not this crop could compete with soy. However, there are unique species that contain variable concentrations of alkaloids, when consumed in large enough quantities, can be harmful to human beings. It's probably best to avoid picking anything to eat from the garden in this case.