Leaves are divided into many leaflets that spread out like fingers of a hand. Sweet pea-like flowers are borne in dense spikes at ends of stems. There are hundreds of species, many of them native to the western U.S. and found in a wide range of habitats. The most commonly grown lupines are the Russell hybrids. Most lupines are not fussy about soil, though hybrids prefer rich, slightly acidic soil. All need good drainage.Lupinus arboreus
Evergreen shrub. Native to California coastal areas. To 5–8 ft. tall and wide. Spring flowers, in clusters 4–16 in. long, areusually yellow but may be lilac,bluish, white, or some mixtureof those colors. Striking beachplant. Little or no water.Lupinus argenteus
Perennial. Native to the Southwest, Sierra Nevada, and the Rocky Mountains. To 2 ft. high, 1 ft. wide, with silvery-haired stems and (usually) smooth leaves. Flowers variable in color—usuallyblue, sometimes lilac or white.Moderate to regular water.Lupinus hybrid
These grow 4- to 5-ft. tall, 2 ft. wide. These English-bred hybrid groups are descended from plants native to western America. Dense vertical spikes of pea-like flowers in many possible colors rise above the foliage in late spring or early summer.
New Generation hybrids are like Russell hybrids, from which they’re descended, but in more intense colors on sturdier plants that flower longer during the season and live longer (7 or 8 years).
Russell hybrids have tall spikes of white, cream, yellow, pink, red, orange, blue, purple, or bicolored flowers. This is the classic.
Self-sown seedlings won’t resemble parents.Lupinus microcarpus densiflorus
Annual. California nativeto 1 1/2–2 ft. high and wide, with white, yellow, pink, or lavender-tinged flowers in spikes to 1 ft. long. ‘Ed Gedling’, a selectionof L. m. d. aureus, is a choice form with bright yellow flowers. Sow in fall for spring bloom. Little or no water to moderate water.Lupinus nanus
Annual. Native from California to British Columbia.To 8–24 in. high, 9–12 in.wide. Spring flowers are richblue marked with white. Sowseeds in fall or winter; combineCalifornia poppies (Eschscholziacalifornica) with the lupines for contrast. Self-sows readily where it gets little competition. Excellent for barren banks. No irrigation needed except in desertzones.Lupinus succulentus
Annual. California native.To 3 ft. high, 2 1/2 ft. wide; lushand leafy, with 6-in. spikes ofblue flowers in spring. Normallyfound in damp places but adapts elsewhere; sometimesused for erosion control. Moderate to ample water.
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