The Wild Lupine is an herbaceous perennial wildflower that has tall, attractive spikes of blue-purple flowers. It is native to the Eastern half of the United States but can be found in other parts of the country and lower Canada. It grows well in USDA zones 3-8, preferring cooler evening temperatures. Known mostly for the blue or purplish flowers, lupines may also bloom in pink to white shades. The spiky flowers appear on erect stems that reach up to 2′ tall. Attractive, mid green, compound-palmate leaves orient themselves to the sun. Wild lupines are adaptable, but require well-drained soil above all else. They do well in acidic, loamy soil that is on the drier side. Their natural settings include large clearings, dry woods or the sides of sandy hills. In the northern part of the country, locations in full sun are preferred. The plants will still grow in hotter climates, but partial shade will be necessary.
The pretty flowers and interesting seed pods resemble those of their dainty cousin, the sweet peas. The flowers can reach up to 1” in length while the seed pods double that to 2”. Hairy seed pods house anywhere from 2-7 seeds, or even more. Lupinus perennis is still a favorite of adult butterflies, hummingbirds, bumblebees and other long-tongued pollinators. You will be inviting a variety of winged visitors to your garden when you plant Wild Lupine seeds. Its dried seeds are enjoyed by birds. Sundial Lupine is the only known host for larvae of the Karner Blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa sub. samuelis), which is nearly extinct over much of its range. Plant Sundial Lupine in perennial borders, meadows, edges of woodlands, and in sandy, naturalized areas of your yard that offer full sun.
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year.
- Scarify the seeds by nicking or sanding the seed coat.
- Soak the seed in water for several hours.
- Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 10 days.
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
- Sow the seeds ¼ inch deep.
- Water the container and leave it to drain.
- Put the pot in a warm, sunny area.
- Water the pot regularly so that the soil is moist but not wet. The seeds start to germinate in 1-2 weeks. Lupines have a long taproot and do not transplant well so if they are planted outdoors, they should be sown where they are to be grown in the garden.