Lupinus × hybrida

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 1 Professionals
Common Name: lupine
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Fabaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: White, red, pink, yellow, blue, purple or bicolor
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies

Culture

Grow in organically rich, moderately fertile, slightly acidic, evenly moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Best flowering is in full sun, but plants appreciate some light afternoon shade in hot summer areas. Good air circulation helps combat powdery mildew. Purchase potted plants in spring or start from seed. Treating roots with a legume inoculant improves plant performance. Plants grow well in the cool summers of the West coast, Pacific Northwest, northern U. S., southern Canada and New England. Plants dislike the heat and humidity in USDA Zones 7-9 in the deep South where they may be best grown as annuals. Apply mulch around plants to help keep root zones cool. Deadhead spent flower spikes to encourage additional bloom, maintain plant vigor and prevent unwanted self-seeding. Hybrid lupines may be grown from seed purchased from seed companies, but will not come true from seed in the garden. Propagate from sideshoot cuttings in late spring to early summer.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Many of the wild lupines (species plants) do not perform particularly well as ornamentals in home gardens. On the other hand, a large number of hybrid lupines have been developed over the years specifically for use as ornamentals. These hybrids have become extremely popular cool summer perennials whose one major black mark is an inability to perform in geographic areas featuring hot summer temperatures. The Russell Hybrids are perhaps the most popular named hybrid group in commerce today. They were developed by English gardener George Russell in the early 1900s. Plants typically grow to 3-4’ tall and feature huge erect spikes (racemes to 1-2’ tall) of densely-packed pea-like flowers that bloom from late spring to early/mid summer on stiff stems rising from clumps of palmate compound green leaves (each with 9-16 leaflets). Dwarf hybrids (e.g., L. ‘Dwarf Lulu’, L.‘Minarette’ and Gallery Hybrids) that grow to only 1.5-2’ tall are also available. Hybrid flower colors include shades of blue, purple, violet, yellow, pink, red, white and bicolors.

Genus name comes from the classical name. Supposed to be derived from lupus meaning a wolf because of the completely erroneous belief that these plants destroyed the fertility of the soil.

Problems

Slugs and snails may attack young plants. Powdery mildew and aphids can be troublesome to the point where cutting plants back close to the ground to regrow becomes a viable option. Taller plants may need staking or other support.

Garden Uses

Borders.