These bloomers are hosts to larvae of endangered species of butterflies LUPINES
By PAM BAYTOS
OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer
I love planting these tall bloomers in masses as they have a bigger impact than planting in a row of soldiers. This type of planting also means the weeds don’t stand a chance.
Lupines also stand out in the back of a flower bed where they highlight the smaller plants in front. They consist of hundreds of perennial and annual species, come in colors of pink, white and purple.
Many are native to the United States where they are hosts to larvae of endangered species of butterflies. They also attract bees which benefit our landscapes. Lupines are also deer resistant, which is a plus in our area. They make nice cut flowers for arrangements if you cut them when lower one-third of buds are open.
An interesting fact about their name is that lupine comes from lupus, Latin for wolf. The plant name lupine was once thought to drain or “wolf” the soil of its nutrients. It actually fixes nitrogen in the soil.
The lupine is a low-maintenance plant that grows 1- to 4-feet tall, adding color and texture to your flower bed. They tolerate many soil types, zone hardy 4-8, 9 or 10 depending on variety.
They look similar to the flowers of garden beans because they belong to the legume family. Like many plants, they are prone to diseases in moist, humid conditions, so you need to water at the base to keep foliage dry.
They also benefit from 2 to 4 inches of compost followed with 2 to 3 inches of mulch. This keeps soil moist, controls weeds and dresses your flower beds. They’re prone to aphids. Spray with a steady stream of water to remove. Avoid toxic pesticides as these chemicals kill aphids, but also kill beneficial insects that provide biological control of pests, including lacewings and lady bugs.
Cutting spiky blooms as soon as they fade prevents lupine from setting seed too soon. At end of flowering, blooms left on plants develop large seed pods.
I was working in my lupine patch and kept hearing a faint popping sound and something kept hitting me. Looking around thinking bugs were flying into me, I discovered it was the dry seed pods bursting open scattering their seeds. If you don’t want them to reseed, remove these pods before they dry.
Directions to plant lupines include save seeds and broadcast onto worked soil in the spring, soak seeds overnight in lukewarm water, or chill for a week in the refrigerator before planting.
This is how I plant. I let Mother Nature fling her seeds out into the flower bed, and when I’m out in the garden cutting back my plants, I’ll collect dried seed pods, break apart and throw around the flower bed. I don’t even work them into the soil.
To learn about growing these beautiful flowers, go to http://go.osu.edu/lupine.