Lupine Growing Guide

Lupinus perennis, Lupinus polyphyllus hybrids and other Lupinus species.


Crop Rotation Group

Legumes (Pea and Bean family) 


Fertile, well-drained soil enriched with compost, with a neutral to slightly acidic pH.


Full sun.

Frost tolerant

Yes, most garden lupines are hardy perennials. Well-rooted plants are hardy to -30°F (-34°C).


Drench with a liquid organic fertilizer when plants begin to produce new leaves in spring.


Single Plants: 1' 11" (60cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 1' 11" (60cm) with 1' 11" (60cm) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Lupines can be started from seed in summer or spring, or you can set out purchased plants first thing in spring. Soak lupine seeds in water overnight before planting them, and expect germination in two weeks at room temperature. Grow seedlings under bright supplemental light, and gradually pot them up to larger containers. Set out bare-root or container-grown plants as the soil warms in spring. Spread the roots with your fingers, and take care not to bury the crown, which can lead to rotting. Where winters are mild, lupines also can be planted in early fall. Young plants need water when they are actively growing. A surface mulch suppresses weeds and retains soil moisture while making the plants look more attractive.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Stately lupines are the stars of the early summer garden, with tall symmetrical flower spikes rising above lush palmate foliage. Large-flowered Russell hybrids perform best in climates that have cool summer nights, while native Texas bluebonnets prefer warmer conditions. Lupines fix nitrogen with the help of soil-borne rhizobia that are different from those used by beans and peas. Once the plants settle in and form relationships with their preferred microbes, growth of lupine plants naturally improves. Should you want to start a new planting in a different place, inoculate the new site with a little soil taken from the old one. All plant parts are poisonous, so lupines are resistant to browsing by deer and rabbits.


Gather lupines to use as cut flowers when they are almost open to the tip. Trim the stem ends every other day and reset in fresh water to prolong vase life. Cutting off old flower spikes can help extend the bloom time of lupines. When flowering ends, prune off old stems to better view the lupine foliage. Allow native species to develop and shed mature seed in midsummer.


Slugs may chew lupine foliage in spring, and tarnished plant bugs may leave feeding spots on leaves in summer. Perennial, large-flowered lupines have low tolerance for humid heat. Native to the Northwestern US and now common roadside plants in cool climates, bigleaf lupines displace native plants and are listed as an invasive species in most states in the northern US, and in many parts of northern Europe.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Lupine