Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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 Wildflowers Questions

When will the bluebonnets appear this year?
February 04, 2016 - When will the bluebonnets appear this year? We have many friends and family who want to visit when they are in bloom. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Native plants growing between Eagle Pass and Del Rio, TX
October 25, 2005 - I have just bought an acre near Quemado, Texas. That's about halfway between Eagle Pass and Del Rio. I'd like to know what the native plants for this area are, especially colorful flowers for the ...
view the full question and answer

Care of wildflower meadow dried out in drought
June 30, 2011 - Mr Smarty Plants, Our wildflower patch is completely dried up here in Lucas,Tx. What do you do with the field? Mow it? Trim it? Let it be? The patch is about 1/2 acre.. Thanks,
view the full question and answer

Eliminating Claytonia virginica in Varna IL
April 13, 2010 - How do I get rid of or control Claytonia virginica? It is starting to take over my lawn.
view the full question and answer

When and where are the bluebonnets blooming from Canyon TX?
March 18, 2012 - Where can we get reports on when and where the bluebonnets are blooming?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.