Showy, elongate clusters of purple, pea-like flowers and distinctive palmately compound leaves make this plant a work of art in your garden! As the seed pods dry out, they explode, ejecting their seeds at a distance, creating beautiful masses of spring flowers. Occasionally flowers range from pink to white. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Larval host plant of the Karner Blue butterfly, a federally-endangered species native to the Great Lakes region. Special value to native bees.
Lupine requires well-drained soils but will adapt to most dry soil types; sand. loam, and gravel, but not clay.
The plant was once thought to deplete or “wolf” the mineral content of the soil; hence the genus name derived from the Latin lupus (“wolf”). Actually the plant and all the pea family members enhances soil fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen into a useful form. Attracts pollinators, larval host, fixing nitrogen – come get one!
Height: 1-2 ft.
Spread: 10”-2 ft.
Bloom time: May to June
Sun: full sun to part shade
Water: dry to medium
Root type: taproot
According to Rutgers University, lupines are “seldom severely damaged” by deer.
photo credit: cassi saari