Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
3 ratings

Sunday - February 15, 2009

From: TARRYTOWN, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Growing Lupinus perennis in sandy soil.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I want to grow Lupinus perennis for the Karner butterfly. I know it won't grow in clay (my soil is wet clay). Can I plant the plant in a big (20" diameter x 17" tall) rubber pot, and fill the pot with sandbox sand. (Or some other kind of sand?) If so, how many can I put in that size container? thanks.

ANSWER:

Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine) is a beautiful plant that prefers to grow in well drained, sandy soil. However, "sandbox sand" is not what you want to use; the particle size is too small and it becomes compacted. You want something coarser that is commonly called "builder's sand", and you also need to add organic matter such as peat moss or leaf mold to provide nutrients and help hold moisture. Make sure that the pots you use allow for drainage.

The USDA Forest Service link has a lot of information about the Sundial Lupine and its growth requirements (be sure to scroll through the whole page), and the UMass Extension link tells about good soil mixtures to use.

The USDA link suggests that the Lupine seeds can be planted 5 per square foot. Since the area of your container is a little over two square feet, you should plant to have 10 or 12 about evenly spaced lupines in your pot.  You will probably want to sow more seeds than that, since some will probably not germinate the first year. 


Lupinus perennis
 

More Wildflowers Questions

Wildflower succession from Austin
April 02, 2011 - I am interested in learning about a wildflower "cycle" (not sure of a better term). I recently saw the Wildflower special on PBS that talked briefly about an area that had wildflowers that naturally...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower seed balls
November 13, 2007 - On one of the HGTV garden shows Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was featured. It showed how you could make little dirt balls filled with wild flower seeds and throw them around your land making i...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets to bloom in September in Harlingen, TX
April 30, 2008 - How can I get bluebonnets to bloom in the first week of September? I need them for my daughter's wedding! We live in Harlingen. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars on Milkweed in MA
January 23, 2016 - I have found every year a black/red caterpillars on my milkweed. They eat everything! I have never been able to find out what they are or how to get rid of them.
view the full question and answer

Best place for picking wildflowers in Austin
February 14, 2014 - Where is the best place to find wildflowers for picking near or in Austin around the end of March?
view the full question and answer

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