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Lupinus (lew-PIE-nus)

Common Name:  Lupine

Light:  - Full sun to part shade

Soil:  Humus-rich, slightly acidic, well-drained

Moisture:  Average to dry when dormant, slightly moist while in flower

Blooms:  Early summer

Zones:  3 - 6

Lupinus 'My Castle'

Lupinus 'The Governor'

Lupinus Description and Cultural Information

Lupinus polyphyllus, Washington lupine. 3 - 5'. These tall Western North America natives lupines have dense spikes of blue, pea-shaped flowers above clusters of fan-shaped, divided leaves on long leafstalks and are the basis for most of today's hybrids. They are not particularly long lived but often self-seed and will form a large colony left undisturbed over time.

Lupinus hybrids. 2 - 3'. Lupine hybrids, like the famous Russell hybrid lupines, were produced using several species including L. polyphyllus. They bloom in a wide range of colors including yellow, red, blue, purple, white, pink, and bicolors. 'My Castle' has red flowers. 'Blushing Bride' has ivory white flowers. 'Gina Lombaert' has pink flowers. 'The Governor' has dark purple flowers. There is also a "Popsicle" series of lupines that bloom in late May/early June and are shorter, growing 18 to 24" high.

How to Grow:  Lupines are beautiful plants, but they may be very short lived. Luckily they are readily available and easy to grow from seed, which is really the best way to aquire plants. Plant lupines in the fall in rich, very well-drained soil in full sun to light shade. Plants will not tolerate heat and humidity and will not grow in the South, however, there are several Southern species that will take the heat, but they are only hardy in zones 8 to 10. Water plants regularly when they are blooming and keep them dry the rest of the year. By replanting ever year or every other year you will have an endless supply of these great early spring bloomers.

Landscape uses:  Lupines look great with other early summer flowers such as iris, peonies, painted daisies, daylilies, and bellflowers (Campanula). Allow them to self-seed to help them come back year after year.

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