Lupine (Lupine perennis) are a nice addition to butterfly gardens, native wildflower plantings and old-fashioned country gardens. Lupine prefer sunny locations and do well in poor quality soil. In fact, they often grow well in locations that may not support very many other flowers. You can find lupine growing wild across North America, and you can collect the seeds to propagate lupine in your own garden. Proper storage of lupine seeds will help ensure their successful germination.
Collect lupine seeds in the early fall. After the flowers fade, seed pods that resemble hairy green beans will develop. Harvest the pods when they are dark brown or black and the seeds inside rattle.
Store lupine pods at room temperature in a paper bag with the top folded over until the seed pods explode or pop open. This may take a few hours or a few days, depending on the weather and the maturity of the seed pod. Discard the empty pods.
Store lupine seeds in a paper bag in a cool, dark place until you are ready to plant them. Lupine seeds may be planted immediately after you harvest them in the fall, and fall-planted lupine often have better germination rates. If, however, you need to store them over the winter to plant in the spring, continue with step four.
Keep lupine seeds in paper or plastic bags throughout the winter. Paper bags allow the seeds to breath and will prevent mold growth. However, if your house is excessively dry, lupine seeds may keep better in loosely closed plastic bags so that they don't dry out too much. Lupine seeds should be stored in a cool dark place, such as a cabinet or a root cellar.
Provide a period of cold stratification by placing your lupine seeds in the refrigerator for seven days before you plant them. Lightly dampen a paper towel, spread the lupine seeds across it and fold the paper towel over like a sandwich. Place the paper towel inside a loosely closed plastic bag to keep the seeds from drying out.
Sow lupine seeds outside as soon as the soil is workable. There is no need to wait until after the danger of frost has passed. You can also start lupine seeds indoors earlier in the spring if you like.
Things You Will Need
- Paper bags
- Plastic bags
- Paper towel
- 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.