Sponsored by
The Catkin Willow Fund for Stray Cats

Lupines (and wolves)
get a bad rapů

But don't believe
All you hear
Lupines, perennials

By Diane Everest and Suzan Fawcett
Silk Purse Farm Perennials


The plant name derives from lupus, the Latin name for wolf.  As wolves were thought to rob farmers of livestock, so it was believed that the lupine depleted the soil of its minerals and nutrients.

What kind of plant is the lupine?
Lupines are a member of the Leguminosae family.  This plant family includes beans, peas and clovers.  This is significant because this family of plants actually adds to the fertility of the soil.  They do this through nodules on their roots.  These nodules or bumps/lumps on the roots contain bacteria that convert nitrogen in the soil to a form that the plants can use to grow.
So in fact lupines are feeders of the soils not looters.
But all is not rosy with lupines.  They are poisonous.  They contain Lupinine.  Eating large numbers of seeds is the usual means of ingesting the poison.  Interestingly, livestock seem to be unaffected by eating the plant, but their milk can become poisonous and, in turn, if ingested can cause birth defects.

Poor Soil's Okay

Lupines love well drained, slightly acid to neutral soil.  They also thrive in poor soil.  Lupines produce more blooms if grown in the sun.  However, to add color to the shade garden we experimented with planting some in the shade and although they bloomed later in the season and had fewer blooms, they added color to our shade gardens.  And by the way, lupines do not like hot humid weather.

How it's done

We grow a shorter variety of lupines to avoid wind damage.  Lupines come in a wide variety of colors and shades.  They are considered to be a short lived perennial [3 to 4 years]. However many plants will self-seed, although the seedlings are not necessarily the same color as the mother plant.
To encourage a second flowering period cut off the stocks of fading blooms.
The lupine flowers in late June for about 2 to 3 weeks.

Pests and Diseases

Lupines have few problems.  Aphids can be a problem and they can be controlled with the use of insecticidal soap.  We have never had any disease or pest problems with our lupines

To contact Catkin Willow:

Fax: 416-487-6213
Email: catkin@catkin.org

The Catkin Willow Fund for Stray Cats sponsors more amazing gardening stuff and you can check it out by clicking on our other Gardening Pages. You can also take a brief tour of Catkin Willow's Cat Garden, or meet some of the Catkin Cats. These lovely animals have all been rescued by Catkin Willow, often with severe physical and psychological traumas, nursed back to health and given a permanent home with us.