Lupines, which are also known as lupins, are part of the Lupinus genus which contains over 200 plants. They are native to parts of the Mediterranean and the Western US, and are in the pea family, Fabaceae! They can be grouped as either herbaceous “border lupins” or “tree lupins”. Border lupins can be annuals or perennials and tree lupins are evergreen shrubs!
Lupins have pea-like flowers that are borne on spikes, and come in many colors including, white, pink, purple, blue, multicolored, and more! Some wild species can be grown successfully in the garden, but the most popular lupin plants are hybrids belonging to the group L. x hybrida.
Their genus name stems from the Latin word for wolf “lupus” because these plants were once thought to drain or “wolf” away the minerals in the soils they were growing in. However, the opposite is the case! Lupins are actually nitrogen-fixers and are helpful for the soil. So much so that some species are grown commercially as green manure!
Although lupins are extremely popular for cottage-style garden beds, borders, and containers, they also look lovely in coastal and tropical gardens!
Top Lupin Varieties To Add To Your Garden
#1 White Lupine (L. albus)
The White Lupin, also known as the Wolf Bean or Mediterranean White Lupine, is an annually cultivated lupin plant used as a green manure crop. It is also grown for its beans which are a common snack in parts of the Mediterranean. This plant will reach a maximum height of 4 feet and has white flowers.
#2 Tree Lupine (L. arboreus)
This wonderful shrub also goes by the name Yellow Bush Lupine or Coastal Bush Lupine. It is short-lived but vigorous growing and is well suited to rock gardens or coastal gardens as it can tolerate the salty air! Pair it with other popular shrubs like rosemary or lavender. It can grow as large as 8 feet high and produces 12-inch racemes with delightfully fragranced buttery yellow blooms.
#3 Lavender Spires (L. arboreus)
Lavender Spires is a tree lupin cultivar that reaches heights of up to 8 feet with long 12-inch racemes adorned with masses of pea-like flowers. Fragrant blossoms have lavender wings and darker purple banners which contrast nicely with the silvery green foliage! Plant them in cottage-style or coastal gardens.
#4 Snow Queen (L. arboreus)
Another lovely tree lupin variety, Snow Queen produces masses of lightly fragranced flowers borne on 12-inch racemes. Blooms are white and will develop a silvery purple flush with maturity. This lupin shrub will grow as large as 8 feet, and is great for attracting pollinators into the garden!
#5 Silvery Lupine (L. argenteus)
The Silvery Lupine is a native to the southwestern US and is a fast-spreading species that will readily form colonies. It produces spikes up to 8 inches high that have violet blooms with a white center on its banners. Occasionally flowers can be pink, and in rare cases white. This is fantastic lupin for prairie or meadow gardens and it will attract butterflies into the garden!
#6 Pink Fairy (L. elegans)
Pink Fairy is a beautiful lupin and the perfect cottage-style garden addition! It is a relatively short variety reaching 24 inches high. Blooms have white banners and rose-pink wing petals that darken with age to red and are pure white at the tips.
#7 Big Bend Bluebonnet (L. havardii)
Native to Texas, the Big Bend Bluebonnet, sometimes referred to as the Harvard Bluebonnet grows between 1 and 3 feet high. It is one of the Texas state flowers and produces long stems that rise above the foliage with pea-like flowers on the upper 4-8 inches. Blooms are deep blue with a lemon yellow blotch on their banners. Plant these lupins en-masse for a stunning display during the early to mid-spring blooming season!
#8 Snow Pixie (L. nanus)
First introduced in 2014, Snow Pixie is a fantastic choice for container planting! This lovely dwarf lupin will grow to a mere 1.5 feet and has a heavenly fragrance! It produces spikes with pure white flowers that will attract bees into the garden. Aside from container-growing, it is also a great choice for borders in cottage-style gardens and will look especially lovely growing alongside tall delphiniums.
#9 Bigleaf Lupine (L. polyphyllus)
The Bigleaf Lupine or Meadow Lupine may grow between 3 and 5 feet high. It has large palmate leaves that are rich green and tall racemes that rise above the foliage. Its blooms range from violet to blue-violet and are good for attracting pollinators. These lupin plants are native to moist, boggy areas, making them a fantastic variety for wetland gardens or landscaping around ponds.
#10 Riverbank Lupine (L. rivularis)
First discovered in 1828, the Riverbank Lupine is native to the Pacific Northwest. This lupin species thrives in well-drained, sandy soils and is fast growing. It will reach a maximum of 5 feet tall, and has long stalks with showy clusters of purple-blue to white flowers that have a heady scent.
#11 Texas Bluebonnet (L. texensis)
One of the Texas state flowers, The Texas Bluebonnet is a compact lupin plant growing between 6 and 18 inches tall. A fantastic choice for prairie, cottage-style, or meadow gardens, this flower is well-known in Texas for blanketing vast areas of southern and western Texas in a sea of blue during the blooming season! Its stems produce clusters of up to 50 pea-like flowers that are rich blue towards the base and white at the tips. They can also be grown successfully in containers!
#12 Dumpty (L. versicolor)
Dumpty is a lupin shrub that has a varying growth habit. Heights can range between 6 and 36 inches. Stems rise above the dark green foliage and produce evenly spaced whorls of pea-like tri-color flowers. Blooms have violet wings and white banners with yellow center markings.
#13 Blue Javelin (L. x hybrida)
Blue Javelin is a hardy annual lupin variety. It may reach as high as 4 feet and has wonderful tri-color flowers. Use them as single-stem cut flowers to enjoy their delightful fragrance indoors! Blooms are blue-purple with white banners that have sunshine yellow center markings. After they have died down, work the stems into the soil for some added nitrogen which will help any leafy perennials nearby perform well the following year!
#14 Cashmere Cream (L. x hybrida)
This lovely lupin flower is perfect for cottage-style gardens! It will grow up to 35 inches high and has an upright habit so will not require staking. Its tall spikes are densely packed with neat rows of flowers which are creamy-white flushed with buttery yellow on the banners.
#15 Desert Sun (L. x hybrida)
Desert Sun grows as tall as 32 inches and is an upright, clump-forming lupin. Creamy-white blossoms with yellow banners are borne on tapered racemes that rise above the lush green foliage. Blooms are scented and are well-suited to coastal gardens and look great planted alongside rosemary shrubs.
#16 Gallery Blue (L. x hybrida)
Gallery Blue is a dwarf lupin flower that is ideal for container planting! It reaches a maximum of 24 inches tall with 4-12-inch racemes. Blooms are blue with white banners and are fantastic for attracting pollinators. Grow them in pots for patios or city gardens for an extra pop of color!
#17 Gladiator (L. x hybrida)
This is an extremely eye-catching lupin flower that would look incredible in a tropical garden border! It grows 24 inches tall and has showy racemes adorned with vivid flowers. Blooms are bright red-orange with sunshine yellow banners that stand out amongst the large green palmate leaves.
#18 King Canute (L. x hybrida)
King Canute is a fantastic lupin variety that has a clump-forming, upright habit. Grow it in containers, beds, and borders in cottage-style gardens, along with other cottage-style garden favorites like foxgloves and peonies! It does best in sunny spots but will be tolerant of some light shade. This plant will grow as high as 36 inches and will produce wonderful spires that are densely packed with blue pea-like flowers that have white banners.
#19 Magic Lantern (L. x hybrida)
Magic Lantern would be a bold addition to any garden scheme, whether tropical or cottage-style! This lovely lupin flower can be up to 24 inches tall and produces showy racemes with two-tone flowers. Blooms have dark purple wing petals and contrasting bright yellow standards and make wonderful cut flowers.
#20 My Castle (L. x hybrida)
A part of the “Band of Noble” series, My Castle is a tall lupin plant that may reach 4 feet high. Use it to add height and dimension to beds and borders in traditional gardens. It is a short-lived perennial, but will readily self-seed under the right conditions. Blooms are scarlet to red-pink and often have darker banners. This variety has an upright habit so will not need extra support.
#21 Persian Slipper (L. x hybrida)
Persian Slipper is an unusual lupin flower that has a pleasant peppery scent. It grows to a maximum of 40 inches tall and produces tall racemes with purple-blue blooms that are flecked with white. These look fantastic planted in large drifts for a dramatic display! Plant them in cottage-style or coastal gardens.
#22 Rachel de Thame (L. x hybrida)
Rachel de Thame is a bold and eye-catching lupin plant that produces lovely bicolor blooms! The tall racemes are densely packed with neat rows of flowers that have bright pink wings and white banners. It will grow to 34 inches and has low-lying, lush green foliage.
#23 Terracotta (L. x hybrida)
This lupin plant has beautiful, bright-colored blooms that will look incredible in any garden! It grows as large as 36 inches and produces racemes that are densely covered in neat rows of fragrant pea-like flowers. Blooms have peach wing petals and bright yellow banners sometimes flecked with dark pink. Grow it in either cottage-style or tropical garden schemes.
#24 Tequila Flame (L. x hybrida)
Tequila Flame grows as tall as 36 inches and is a showy lupin variety that will bring bold color into the garden. Grow it in containers on patios or along borders in traditional gardens! It has tall spikes adorned with neat rows of flowers that have red wing petals and golden-yellow banners. These make fantastic cut flowers!
#25 Salmon Star (L. x hybrida)
This beautiful lupin flower grows as high as 36 inches, and is well suited to beds and borders of either cottage-style or tropical gardens! It is a vigorous grower with a clump-forming habit and has upright racemes densely packed with pea-like blooms! Flowers begin as lilac buds that open to become salmon-pink blossoms that fade to pale yellow with maturity.
#26 Salmon Sultan (L. x hybrida)
Salmon Sultan is a vivid lupin variety that will certainly be the star of the show in any garden! It is relatively tall and can grow as big as 36 inches. Plant it along borders with other cottage garden favorites like foxgloves and hollyhocks for a rich display! Blooms grow in clusters along tall spikes and have red-pink wing petals and darker banners flushed with golden-yellow.
~ image source: depositphotos/walldi