Lupine Growing And Care Guide

If you happen to be hiking through a lush forest in the Pacific Northwest, you might come upon a plant with star-like leaves shooting tall stalks of different colored flowers into the air. If so, there’s a chance you’ve spotted Lupine growing in its natural habitat. It doesn’t just grow out in the wild though, Lupine can be grown right at home as well. No need to hike to enjoy its beauty!

What is Lupine?

Lupine (Lupinus) is a member of the pea family that has star-like leaves and tall, colorful spikes of flowers that bloom from late-spring to mid-summer. Here are some fast facts about Lupine:

  • Latin name: Lupinus
  • Other names: Lupin, Blue Bonnet
  • Native to: Pacific Northwest
  • Invasiveness: Yes
  • Tenderness: Perennial
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Water: Sparingly
  • Soil: Sandy, well-drained
  • Hardiness zone: 4-8
  • When to plant: Early spring
  • Spacing: 2-3 feet
  • Plant height: 12-36 inches
  • Bloom period: Late spring to mid summer
  • Container friendly: No
  • Fertilizer: Not needed
  • Toxicity: Yes, to livestock
  • Drought tolerant: Yes
  • Deer resistant: Yes
  • Pest resistant: No

How to grow Lupine

Lupine (lupinus) also sometimes called Lupin or Blue Bonnet is a beautiful flower native to the Pacific Northwest. If you plan to plant it outside of its native range, be warned: it can spread and crowd out native plants. We don’t recommend planting this one if it isn’t native to your region. It’s a full sun-loving perennial that, once established, is drought tolerant and needs little water.


Lupine grows well in hardiness zones 4-8. If you want to plant Blue Bonnets in your garden, plan to get it in the ground in early spring after the last frost date has passed. Space them 2-3 feet apart. Smaller varieties of Blue Bonnets can be planted closer together. It will bloom from late spring to the middle of summer.


Lupine is known to be toxic to livestock, is drought tolerant, and is deer resistant as well. It’s known to have issues with aphids.


Growing Lupine in containers

You can grow Lupine in containers, but it doesn’t do well in short pots due to its long taproot. It will do better planted in the ground, but if you must grow it in a pot, choose a deep one that allows the tap root to grow properly. Blue Bonnets in containers may need water more often than those in the ground.


When to start Lupine seeds

Lupine seeds do best when planted 6-8 before your region’s final frost. Use peat or coir pots when starting seeds indoors. Note: Blue Bonnets do well when sown directly into the soil outside after the last frost date has passed. If you’re in a warmer zone with milder winters, like zone 8, you can get away with sowing seeds in fall.


When to plant Lupine

Lupine does well both as an indoor start and when sown directly into the soil outside after the last frost date has passed. If you’re in a warmer zone with milder winters, like zone 8, you can sow seeds outdoors and watch them germinate in the spring.


How to collect Lupine seeds

Blue Bonnets produce tall, spike-like stalks of flowers that jet up from its low, star-like foliage. The flowers are pollinated during the summer and die off from July to August, leaving behind small seed pods. When the pods turn yellow, they should be ready to collect. You should hear the seeds rattle in the pods when shaken. Place the pods in a paper bag for several weeks to dry them, then collect the seeds from the pods.


Wildlife attracted by Lupine

Tons of pollinators like this flower. Your Blue Bonnets will attract a number of pollinators, like bumblebees, butterflies, and other native pollinators. They are also a fan favorite of your local hummingbirds.


Common problems

Lupine is hardy in its native range but is known to have problems with aphid infestations. If your Blue Bonnets aren’t thriving, that may be the cause. Lupine does well in poor soil, so a lack of fertilizing is not likely the culprit if your plant is suffering.

Thomas Nelson
Gardening Expert
Hi! I'm Thomas, one of the founders of The Garden Magazine. I come from a long line of gardeners who used the art of gardening as a way to live long, healthy lives. I'm here to share my knowledge of gardening with the world!