Lupine plants belong to the pea family (Fabaceae) and typically prefer dry, sandy soils that receive plenty of sunlight. When planting lupine flowers, choose varieties according to bloom time, bloom color and intended use. Lupine plants, particularly the seeds, contain toxic elements and should never be ingested. Many varieties of lupine grow well in American landscapes.
Texas bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), sometimes called buffalo clovers or wolf flowers, feature pointy, green leaves and flowers that appear from March through May. These flower clusters consist of about 50 aromatic, blue blossoms with white tips. This state flower of Texas ranges from 6 to 18 inches tall. Texas bluebonnets occur naturally in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Florida. This annual lupine species tolerates limestone and loamy soils. Texas bluebonnets grow well in prairies, wildflower meadows and open fields.
The sundial lupine (Lupinus perennis), also known as the wild lupine, features showy clusters of blue to purple blossoms. These flowers appear in May and June on top of erect stems ranging from 12 to 24 inches. The green leaves consist of 7 to 11 leaflets. This perennial lupine variety grows naturally in the American Southwest and East. The sundial lupine likes acidic soils and handles partially shady conditions. Gardeners often use sundial lupines in open woods and clearings.
Yellow Bush Lupine
Yellow bush lupines (Lupinus arboreus) form mounds ranging from 4 to 5 feet in both height and spread. Showy flower spikes display from March through June, featuring small, fragrant, yellow, blue or purple blossoms. These colorful flowers contrast nicely with the smooth, deep green leaves. This perennial lupine species thrives on the coastal sand dunes of California, Washington and Oregon.
The bigleaf lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus), also known as the bog lupine and the meadow lupine, performs well in the coastal regions of the United States (U.S.). The hollow, green stems reach between 3 and 5 feet in height. Vibrant blue to purple flower spikes appear in May. Gardeners typically use the bigleaf lupine in stream margins and moist meadowlands.
Silvery lupines (Lupinus argenteus), sometimes called silver-stem lupines, rapidly form colonies ranging from 12 to 24 inches in height. This lupine species bears hairy, green stems and silver-green leaves. Tall spikes of violet or pink blossoms appear in June and July. The silvery lupine generally grows well from Nebraska to New Mexico. Gardeners often plant silvery lupines along piny woodland margins, dry roadways and stream valleys.
The brewer's lupine plant (Lupinus breweri), also known as the matted lupine, forms mats that reach up to 12 inches in height. This lupine variety bears hairy, green leaves and colorful flower clusters from June through August. These flowers feature rich blue to purple petals that surround yellow or white centers. The brewer's lupine naturally occurs in Oregon, Nevada and California. Brewer's lupine plants typically work well when planted on sandy or rocky slopes.