En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - November 08, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils, Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Lupines annual or perennial in Zone 4b from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Are lupines treated as perennials or annuals in Zone 4b (Northeast) if they are planted in the ground? Will other native species of lupines grow in a region they are not native to? Any recommendations?

ANSWER:

Lupinus  is a large genus, with 54 different species listed in our Native Plant Database. Of these, 18, including the much-loved Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), are annuals, dying back to the ground in the Fall after reseeding. Thirty-six of the genus lupinus are perennial.

Usually the questions to us about lupines concern whether homesick Texans can grow the Texas Bluebonnet somewhere else, like England or Afghanistan. Every plant has a particular set of requirements in terms of climate, rainfall, sunlight and soils to flourish, so, generally speaking, we would recommend sticking with plants native to a specific area, but with so many lupines to choose from, you should be able to find one that will be able to make it wherever you are considering planting it. Since we don't know specifically what state you are thinking of, we will find a state in USDA Hardiness Zone 4b, which includes Maine, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and Alaska. Because Hardiness Zones can change in a small distance due to altitude, proximity to large bodies of water, etc., you should probably take a look at the USDA Hardiness Zone map for yourself to locate the specific area involved. For our sample list of lupines for Zones 4b, we will choose Alaska. We happen to know from personal experience that there are lupines growing there that rival the Texas Bluebonnet in appearance and beauty.

To replicate our search for different states, go to our Native Plant Database, search for the genus Lupinus. As mentioned before, this will give you a list of 54 members of that genus native to North America. Using the side bar at the right side of the page, select the state you are interested in, and click on Narrow your search. When we did this on Alaska, this is the list we got:

Lupines growing natively in Alaska:

Lupinus arcticus (Arctic lupine)

Lupinus nootkatensis (Nootka lupine)

Lupinus nootkatensis var. fruticosus (Nootka lupine)

Lupinus polyphyllus (Bigleaf lupine)

Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn its growing conditions, soil preferences and duration (annual/perennial). All of the above list are perennials, which stands to reason, because they can retreat into the insulation of the soil and survive to rise again in the Spring.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Nootka lupine
Lupinus nootkatensis

Bigleaf lupine
Lupinus polyphyllus

More Soils Questions

Native New Jersey plants to remove iron water from Lawrenceville NJ
October 20, 2012 - Are there any native New Jersey plants that can remove iron water
view the full question and answer

Shriveling agave from Miami Florida
August 23, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Most upset - My beautiful agave (wish I could have submitted an image) has stared to misbehave. The once first liquid filled leaves, are starting to look more like the skin ...
view the full question and answer

Zinc tolerant plants for sunny area
June 08, 2012 - I have a very high zinc soil in an all day sun area. Any suggestions as to what kind of flower can I grow successfully? Zone 8 Thank you
view the full question and answer

Soil mixes for green roofs
November 23, 2008 - We are trying to set up a green roof system on our own. What do you suggest for soil? It seems the soils are proprietary and unavailable to individuals.
view the full question and answer

Blooms on Desert Willow withering quickly in Rockwall TX
July 15, 2010 - Why do the blooms on my Desert Willow dry up and wither away in one or two days?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center