PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Big Leaf Lupine (Lupine spp.)

Many species of Lupine are native in cooler areas of the globe. The western North American one is Bigleaf Lupine (Lupine polyphyllus) and is truly glorious in mid spring when masses of it tint the sides of mountains and hills in a purplish blue haze.

Northern Europe has a native yellow one, the Andes Mountains region has a pale lilac colored one whose seeds have been used as a high protein food. The PNW has Big Leaf Lupine which colonizes meadows and hillsides in great masses and blooms in shades of indigo to sky blue to pinkish blue. Interestingly, in Sweden, our PNW native is listed as a noxious invasive weed, but here it supports our local ecology. Hummingbirds love its prolific blooms as do native bees and other flying pollinators.

In winter, Lupines exist as a small mound of distinctive palmate leaves. When weather warms in early spring, they grow rapidly into a multi-stemmed bushy form with successive blooms for a month or two. If you deadhead, they will bloom well into early summer. If you let them go to seed, the plant chemistry changes and they become magnets for black aphids, drop their seeds, and die back. Eventually, this will happen but you can postpone it by deadheading.

Any kind of Lupine will be happy in full sun to light shade and can grow from 18″-36″ tall. Big Leaf Lupine is in the 24″-36″ range and is a perennial that will come back as a thicker clump every year.