Lupines are a member of the pea family, and are native to the mountains of British Columbia. They have been a well-loved garden flower for many years, slightly nostalgic beauties that grow to about 3 feet in height. Lupines come in several colors. Some varieties are annuals while others are perennials.
Choose Variety with Care
Some types of lupine are poisonous and should not be planted in a garden where small children or pets could wander. If you have kids or pets that might taste the flowers, choose a variety that is edible. Your county extension agent can advise you on what plants are safe to put in your garden.
Where to Plant Lupines
Lupines prefer cool weather and may wilt if they get too much sun during the hotter portions of the summer. Rushing water to wilted lupines will result in the top of the blossom falling off prematurely. Ask your nursery which varieties do best in your particular area.
Lupines grow well in full sun to partial shade, depending on the growing conditions. If the lupines you plant this year don’t do well, try choosing a different spot next year. It may take a bit of experimenting but will be well worth the effort. In hotter climates, planting them on the north side of the house may work, as long as they get some sunlight.
How to Plant Lupines
It is best to plant the seeds directly where they will grow in the garden, about 12 to 14 inches apart. Late winter is a good time for this, as lupines need a period of cold in order to sprout properly. As soon as soil is workable, dig well and add some compost. Soil should be average to slightly acidic. Cover seeds with about 1/8″ of soil. Keep seedlings moist but do not overwater.
Care of Plants
Established plants require water once or twice a week during dry periods. A bit of fertilizer once a month before blooming will result in bigger plants with larger blossoms. Deadhead flowers to keep them blooming through mid summer.