Lupines are a lovely old-fashioned flowering plant that comes in a variety of colors. They can be started at various times of the year, depending on the method and weather conditions. Some gardeners divide plants, but most will sow lupine seeds directly into prepared garden soil.
In climates that have definite fall and winter seasons (not too much warming in between), lupine seeds can be sown in the fall. In the garden, plant them about 12-14 inches apart. Or they can be sown in a meadow by broadcasting the seed. The important thing about lupines is to give them a cold period of dormancy. You don’t want them to sprout during a warm period in the fall, and then freeze.
For this reason, many gardeners prefer to sow lupines in the late winter. This gives them the cold dormant season and does not allow them to sprout prematurely. They need some cold weather in order to begin growing properly. Just after the ground becomes workable in late winter, plant the seeds directly into the garden. They will appear in the spring and will bloom from mid spring to mid-summer.
Lupines can also be planted in spring, as long as there is still some cold weather to help them sprout. Some gardeners suggest putting the seeds in the freezer for 1 day to help them along. Then soak the seeds overnight and plant in the garden. Lupines do not transplant well, since they have a taproot that is very sensitive to being moved.
Starting from Seed
If you do decide to start seedlings indoors, choose deep seed cups or plant them in peat pots that do not require removing the flower when you put them into the garden soil. This will help to ensure a successful start for your lupines.
Optimal Growing Conditions
Lupines do best in full sun to partial shade. They grow quickly and will reach a height of about 3 feet. Some varieties are perennial. These can be propagated through cuttings. Make cuttings in late summer when the weather has begun to cool. In the fall, perennial lupines can also be divided to create more plants.