Lupine (Lupinus perennis) are beautiful wildflowers that are found across North America. They have upright clusters of pink, purple or white flowers, and they are part of the Fabaceae family, related to beans, peas and clover. Lupine prefer full sun and do well in poor soils, and they are a rich nectar source for butterflies, bees and other pollinators. You can easily collect seeds from lupine growing in the wild to propagate in your own garden.
Stake out a good patch of lupine. Lupine usually grow in sunny and slightly moist locations, and they seem to prefer poor quality or rocky soil. Look for lupine along roadsides, near drainage ditches or in wet meadows. Lupine are also grown in many private flower gardens, and if you ask permission the gardener may allow you to collect the seeds.
Harvest lupine seeds in the fall. After the flowers fade, seed pods that look like hairy green beans will develop. The seeds pods will start out green and slowly turn brown as they mature. Harvest lupine seeds when the pods are dark brown, grey or black and the seeds inside rattle when shaken. Pods that are cracked open have probably already dropped their seeds.
Remove the pods with your fingers or a pair of scissors and place them in a paper bag.
Fold over the top of the paper bag and store the lupine seeds at room temperature until the pods explode or pop open. Depending on the pod's maturity, this may take a few hours or a few days.
Collect the lupine seeds from the bottom of the bag. Lupine seeds are oblong and somewhat flat, less than a quarter inch in diameter and dark brown. Some seeds may still be clinging to the pods and can be gently freed by running your finger along the inside of the lupine seed pod. Discard the empty pods.
Store lupine seeds in a paper bag in a cool dry place until you are ready to plant the seeds. Lupine may be planted in the fall or the spring, although spring-planted lupine seeds will need a period of cold stratification in the refrigerator.
Things You Will Need
- Paper bags
- Scissors (optional)
- Different colors of lupine easily hybridize with each other, so even if you only collect seeds from purple-flowering lupine, if there are any pink or white lupine nearby, you will probably end up with a mix of colors.