Find out more about the different types of Lupine flowers, their distinct features, and how to grow them if you're looking to add a touch of splendor, grace, beauty, and color to your garden.
Known as quite the wildflower, Lupines is one of the largest, most favorite and famous plant groups in the whole of America. It has gained significant popularity in overtime and has gone on to become the most popular garden perennial, owing to its beautiful candy cane colors that occur in such great variety.
The botanical name for Lupine flowers is ‘Lupinus’ which is a genus of flowering plants that belong to the legume family called Fabaceae. Lupinus is a genus that consists of numerous other species and most of them are native to North and South America.
Lupine is an herbaceous perennial plant that is mainly grown for its ornamental value, as well as for forage crops and garden ground covers. There is quite an interesting history behind the name of this plant. The term ‘lupine’ apparently comes from the Latin word for ‘wolf’. This is a reference to the belief that Lupine plants basically extracted or “wolfed” all the minerals from rich soils. However, that theory is far from true because, in actuality, lupines truly boost fertility levels of soils by fixing its nitrogen levels. They do this by using the nitrogen from the air and channeling it to the soil below which also proves to be super helpful for other types of plants.
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How to Grow Lupine Flowers
Although lupines are one of the easier types of plants to grow, there are still some growing and caring tips for this plant that you must take into account when growing this stunning, sun-loving favorite in your garden.
In terms of light, this plant requires full sun to grow, but it can also easily grow in partially shaded conditions. If they are kept in highly shaded areas, they are not likely to flower. Along with the full sun, lupines also need slightly acidic to neutral types of soil. While they don’t require rich loamy or clayey soils, in particular, they do need them to be perfectly well-drained in order to prevent the roots from rotting.
As for water requirements, lupines needs a proper and adequate amount of drainage along with regular irrigation. If the weather and environmental conditions are to dry and hot, make sure to provide them with water each week and also lightly mulch them in order to keep fairly moist and wet.
Types of Lupine Flowers
If you are looking to add a touch of splendor, grace, beauty, and color to your garden, take a look at some of the best varieties of Lupine flowers that are likely to turn a few heads their way!
Large Leaved Lupine
This variety of Lupine flower is also known by several other names such as large-leaved lupine, many-leaved lupine, and big-leaved lupine. It is native to the south to Utah and California, western North America, western Wyoming, and southern Alaska. You are likely to find this plant growing in a range of moist habitats such as creeks and streams.
Large-leaved lupine is an herbaceous perennial that grows to an average height of 1.5 meters that makes about 4.9 feet tall. The flowers produced by this plant are a tall spike and they grow about 1-1.5 centimeters long. They usually grow in beautiful shades of blue and purple. The upper petal of flowers often folds back towards the sides and is comparatively smaller than the lateral wings of the flower.
This flower is most popularly used in gardens for its ornamental value and also for their incredible ability to improve poor quality soils. The area also planted along roadsides where they add a wonderful touch of beauty and color that greatly appeals to the eyes.
The flowering period of this plant begins in July and ends in August while it seeds ripen during the months of July and October. It grows best in heavy clayey, medium loamy, and light sandy types of soils given that they are well-drained and not too moist. It requires full sun and cannot grow in shaded conditions.
Also called Sundial Lupine, blue lupine and Indian beet, this type of lupine flower are largely popular for producing elongate and showy clusters of pea-shaped purple flowers. It is widespread on the coasts of Arctic Ocean, the eastern part of the USA including Texas, Maine and Florida, Canada and Minnesota. Common habitat of this plant ranges in sandy areas such as savannas and dunes.
Wild lupine is a cool-season, long-lived perennial plant that produces blue, bluish-purple, pink, white and blue flowers. These radiant and colorful flowers look simply beautiful with compound leaves that consist of 7-11 leaflets arranged in a radial pattern. The flowers grow in a terminal cluster that is upright and elongated on an erect stem.
Wild lupine is one of the most popular choices for growing in gardens and restorations, primarily because it is surrounded by its palm-shaped leaves that create quite an alluring sight. Although this plant requires perfectly well-drained soils to grow to its maximum height, it can also adapt to a number of different types of soil such as gravel, sand, loam, and clay.
An interesting feature of the wild lupine flower is that when it is fully ripe, its seedpods explode a great deal which widely distributes it to a number of different areas. This greatly attracts small mammals and birds from all around after which they feed on these scattered seeds.
European Yellow Lupine
This lupine flower is also by two other common names that are ‘yellow lupine’ and ‘annual-yellow lupine’. The European yellow lupine is native to the Mediterranean region that is part of Southern Europe. Some of its most common habitats include volcanic soils and mild sandy areas, considering how it is a wild plant.
The flowering period of European Yellow Lupine begins in June and lasts till July, while the seeds begin to ripen August and finish in September. It grows to an average height of 2 feet and spreads almost 1 foot wide. This species is known to be hermaphrodite, which means that it has both female and male organs.
The European Yellow lupine flower grows best in light sandy and medium loamy soils, but also has the ability to tolerate those soils that are nutritionally poor. It is believed that this plant turned wild ever since it was cultivated in southern France and Maera.
Interestingly, the seeds of this plant called ‘lupin beans’ serve a great many purposes in the culinary world where they are often featured in protein-rich savory and vegetable dishes. Many people also grind the seeds into a powder form and they use it to make bread or even cereal flours.
The silver lupine flower is also commonly called evergreen lupine and white-leaf bush lupine. This type of lupine flower is native to Oregon and California. It is generally found growing along with coastal areas, open meadows, forest clearings, and prairies. You can also expect to find Silver Lupine in a number of different plant communities such as foothill woodlands, yellow pine forests, and coastal sage scrubs.
Silver lupine is a mounding, spreading type of shrub that grows to an average height ranging between 3.2-5 feet and spreads about 5ft wide. It has quite a fragrant smell and the fact that it occurs in so many regions and such a diverse range of habitats, it grows well with a variety of plant and flower species. Its sweet scent also greatly attracts bees and butterflies in most gardens and backyards.
One of the keys and distinctive features of Silver lupine is its stunning flowers that have 3-inch blue spikes on a sparkling silver-white bush. The leaves are silver in color and a great feathery texture while the flowers sport a beautiful violet-light blue color. This plant is best grown in dry conditions, but can also tolerate some amount of water. It needs full sun to grow properly along with well-drained soils.
One major downside of growing this perennial shrub is that it is really toxic to livestock because of the bitter-tasting alkaloid toxins present in its leaves. When livestock consumes the leaves and flowers of this plant, it can adversely affect them by causing birth defects and a decrease in weight.
Also commonly known as Field Lupine, the White Lupine is an erect and a branched annual plant type of plant that produces a bush which is 120cm tall in height. It is widely cultivated in the Mediterranean region and is also widespread throughout the Southern Balkans, western Anatolia, the islands of Sicily, Lebanon, Israel and the Italian mainland region of Apulia.
The White lupine is more or less a pubescent plant that occurs in great abundance in meadows, grassy slopes, pastures and areas with sandy soils. It is also grown as a traditional pulse since it belongs to the genus of multipurpose annual legumes that are grown all across the world for forage, as well as for their seeds to be used in food.
This plant is predominantly grown in temperate zones; however, it has also many cultivated in tropical areas which have proven to be highly successful. It requires a sunny position to grow well along with moderately well-drained soil. Light acid soil is best for the White lupine plant while heavy clayey and waterlogged soils can greatly hamper the growth of its leaves and flowers.
The seeds of this plant have some of the biggest uses and benefits to offer and most people use them the same way as cooked beans. They are mostly featured in savory and vegetable dishes because they are incredibly rich in protein content. Other than culinary uses, the seeds are also valued for their medicinal properties and are used as an effective treatment for numerous skin issues such as boils and ulcers.
This is a bushy herb with upright stems that are covered in silky white, long hairs. It grows to an average height that ranges between 15-50 cm and is basically a perennial herb that grows from a taproot. Arctic Lupine is also commonly known as subalpine lupine and is native to numerous regions in northwestern North America. These regions include east to Nunavut and from Oregon north to Alaska.
The leaves of Arctic Lupine are palm-like, smooth from the top and hairy from below. They sport a bright green color and are made up of six to eight leaflets that grow on long stalks from the base of the plant. The flowers range from stunning shades of purple lavender and medium blue and are produced in thick clusters. The fruits, on the other hand, are yellowish and consist of hairy pods that are about 2-4 cm long.
You can expect to find the Arctic Lupine growing in a variety of habitats including alpine regions, moist and wet substrates, fields of sedge and moss and also the hills of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The plant is ideally adapted to northern climates and grows best in those soils that contain low nitrogen levels.
Commonly known as bicolor lupine, pigmy-leaved lupine, and Lindley’s Annul Lupine, this is a showy perennial plant that is native to western North America. It is particularly found north to British Columbia, and from western Baja California throughout California. This plant shares its habitat with a number of wildflowers that bloom during spring and early summer, for instance, the California poppy. Some of these habitats include open conifer forests, grasslands, coastal sage scrubs, Joshua tree, and mixed conifer woodlands.
The name of this plant ‘miniature lupine’ is an obvious reference to its diminutive size. The maximum height of this plant is 1.3 feet and the most it can spread in terms of width is 1 ft. It is a small annual plant with gray-green foliage that is often found clustered at the base of the plant. It produces thin palmately-arranged leaves that grow on short, hairy stem. The leaves consist of 5 to 7 leaflets that are also covered in short, transparent hairs. These hairs serve a very important purpose which is that they trap fog and mist quite efficiently and effectively.
According to one of its common names ‘lupine bicolor’, the flowers of this plant occur in two beautiful colors. One is a stunning shade of blue and the other is often a combination of white and magenta or light purple. Given these gorgeous shades of color, miniature lupine is typically grown and cultivated as an ornamental plant. Its beauty and allure are one of the reasons why the plant attracts a number of pollinators such as bumblebees and butterflies.
The flowers of this plant are petite and charming that makes them a favorite small wildflower for most gardeners and gardening enthusiasts. Their blooming period begins in February or March, making them quite an early bloomer. These flowers are often arranged in a spiral pattern that gently surrounds the short flowering stalks of the plant.
Yellow Bush Lupine
As the name suggests, this variety of Lupine flowers is most notable for its clusters of soft, yellow, pea-like flowers that are incredibly fragrant and grow almost 12 inches long. The plant is native to California where it is commonly found growing in sand dunes and coastal sage scrubs.
Yellow Bush Lupine is an evergreen shrub that grows up to 7 ft. tall that makes about 2 meters. It some cases, the maximum height it can reach lies between 3-5 ft. It bears grey-green leaves, silky shoots and scented yellow flowers that sometimes appear to be white or blue. It is also quite a known plant species for attracting bees, butterflies, and moth, primarily due to its nectar-rich flowers.
This plant is popularly grown for its ornamental value in a variety of different types of wildlife gardens. Many people also use the plant to bind drifting sand dunes, as well to seal the cracks that form in vertical stone walls. The main reason for that is that it grows quite rapidly and produces very deep roots. These roots make it an excellent stabilizer for reclaiming affected areas such as coastal dunes.
Lately, the Yellow Bush lupine has escaped from cultivation and has turned into quite an invasive plant species in several areas. These areas particularly include Southern California, coastal Pacific Northwest and Baja California.
This plant grows best under full sun and further requires well-drained soils in order to successfully attain its maximum height. The best types of soil that are ideal and most suitable for the growth of this plant include medium loamy and light sandy soils. However, it can also grow in moist or dry soil and has been shown to be exceptionally tolerant towards drought.
This lupine flower is quite a robust type of perennial herb that grows in a very erect manner. It is known by numerous other common names such as streambank lupine, nine fingers, and stream lupine. This plant is typically found growing in coastal habitats and is native to western North America, particular the region between southern British Columbia to northern California.
Riverbank Lupine often forms a woody base which is why it is considered subshrub. It grows to an average height that falls between 1-3 feet. The flowering period for this plant begins in Mid Spring, during which clusters of light purple flowers that are arranged in whorls. Its stem is generally hairless, thick and hollow and it sports a unique reddish color.
The leaves are palmate and each of them consists of 5-9 wide leaflets that are 2-4 centimeters long. Some of the plant’s key growing conditions include full sun to partial shade along with a type of soil that is fine textured and is moist to wet.
Unlike most lupine flower species, the Riverbank lupine has the most number of incredible uses and benefits. It is popularly used for erosion control given its rapid and fast-paced growth that offers a quick cover for erosion-prone areas such as steep slopes ad droughty sites. It has great ornamental and decorative value, thanks to its splendid floral display and a very pleasant fragrance. These two factors make it one of the most perfect choices for roadsides, parks, gardens and all those areas or spaces that have the need for growing short-lived wildflowers.
Other than this, Riverbank Lupine is also often featured in reforestation projects mainly for the amazing soil-enriching abilities that they do through the process of nitrogen fixation of the soil. This makes them an ideal plant option for seeding to be used as a green manure crop as well as a winter cover.
This is another popular lupine flower that is also known by various other names such as succulent lupine and hollow leaf annual lupine. It is commonly found throughout entire California as well as a number of other adjoining areas like Baja California and Arizona.
Arroyo Lupine is best described as a fleshy perennial herb that grows to an average height of 1 meter and is considered to be the largest of all native annual lupines. The height of the plant is largely influenced by the amount of moisture and fertility contained within the soil in which it grows. This plant typically prefers heavy and moist clayey types of soil coupled with full sun in order to grow successfully.
It produces palmate leaves that have 7-9 leaflets each which grow as long as 6 centimeters. The leaves sport a bright green color and are designed in a way that makes them able to trap water and send it down all the way to the soil. Its flowers hold great similarity with the garden peas and Sweet Peas and they are a gorgeous bluish-purple color with a white dot which offers a striking contrast against the bright green foliage.
Arroyo lupines are often featured in natural landscaping projects in which they are popularly grown as an ornamental plant to be used wildlife gardens, for flower borders and on garden banks. Many people also grow this plant garden pots and containers because a pot blooming with beautiful purple-blue lupine flowers simply offers a spectacular sight, especially on a warm, sunny day.
One major drawback of this plant, however, is that it has a tendency to be quite toxic and poisonous so if you have the plant growing in your garden and if your pets in your home, ensure that they don’t eat the plant’s roots, leaves, stem or seeds.
Although lupines are fairly short-lived wildflowers, they are an excellent option for planting in gardens given their gorgeous colors and incredible benefits!