11 Beautiful Lupine Varieties for Your Garden

Interested in growing some lupines but not sure which varieties to try? Wondering if you should be looking at annual, perennial, or wildflower species? In this article, certified master gardener Liz Jaros helps clear up some of the confusion surrounding this vertical cottage charmer and suggests 11 lupine varieties for you to try at home.

A view of pink and purple bluebonnets in a garden. Both the pink and purple lupines have buds and keels with hints of yellow and greenish centers. Lush green leaves with slender shapes can be seen in the background.


Casually called bluebonnets in Texas and lupin in the Northeast, members of the Lupinus genus are often enjoyed from a distance. In those regions, as well as coastal parts of California and the Northwest, when you drive past a sweet-smelling meadow of spiky blue or yellow flowers in late spring, you’re probably looking at some lupine variety.

The species you see along the highway or on a mountain hike are most likely native wildflowers that spread easily by seed. They can be either annual or perennial plants, meaning some will die completely after one season and others will return next year, but they all produce enough viable seed to keep the lupine party going indefinitely. 

Despite their ability to thrive in distressed soil and imperfect sites, wild lupines do not perform well in captivity. Many a gardener has attempted to snag some bluebonnets from a ditch or grow some large-leaf lupines from seed, only to be disappointed by their performance in the backyard. 

Fortunately for those of us who love this charismatic plant, with its bold raceme flowers and palm-like foliage, plenty of lupine species and cultivars will grow quite well in the ornamental garden

About Lupines

A beautiful background of brightly colored wild lupines. These lupines exhibit varying shades from lilac to rose pink and purple. They stand tall with a slight slant, and new buds on top are visibly light green. The lupines are adorned with slender green leaves.
Explore 11 perennial lupine varieties to assist gardeners in selecting the right cultivar.

Varying from 1 to 7 feet tall, lupines are perennial plants in zones 4 through 9. In warmer regions, they grow as annuals. Flowers may be slender and dainty or large and substantial, and they come in white, pink, purple, blue, and yellow hues. Lupines prefer full sun to partial shade and have soil preferences that vary among the species. 

To assist those of you who’d like to grow some lupines in your own gardens next season, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite cultivars. We’ve focused on lupine varieties that are reliably perennial and easy to grow, most of which are hybrids. 

Read on to look at 11 perennial lupine varieties to try at home. We’ll look at their key characteristics, growing preferences, and some of their maintenance requirements. 

The Governor

A close-up of Lupinus polyphyllus in a spacious green area. The lupines stand tall and upright, displaying coral pink blooms with hints of yellow and greenish hues on top. They are adorned with slender green leaves, while a vibrant lush of green grass and tall trees can be seen in the background.
Lupines like ‘The Governor’ suit gardeners seeking a perennial with self-spreading seeds.
botanical-name botanical name Lupinus polyphyllus ‘The Governor’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Standing tall at 2-4 feet, with conical spires of violet and white, ‘The Governor’ commands attention wherever it’s grown. Flowers are pea-shaped and tightly packed in a raceme form, waving in the breeze above palm-shaped leaves that are bright green and slender. 

Like most perennial lupines, this hybrid will likely live for just a few years, but its seeds are strong and will self-spread. Plant wherever a vertical element is needed in the garden, and enjoy!


Close-up of Riverbank Lupine with vibrant purple to indigo hues and hints of lilac. The stems are sturdy with a slight slant, and a few calyces are visible in muted green.
The ‘Riverbank’ variety thrives near river edges with moist soil.
botanical-name botanical name Lupinus rivularis ‘Riverbank’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-9

Highly regarded for its erosion control properties, ‘Riverbank’ lupine features dense foliage with a shrub-like habit. Its flowers are grape and lavender colored, rising on brownish stems above palmate leaves for a striking contrast. 

At home on banks and slopes near the water’s edge, ‘Riverbank’ enjoys slightly moister soil than other lupine species. It will not, however, tolerate standing water. Perennial in zones 7-9, this lupine variety tolerates some hot sun and is a good choice for gardeners in warmer regions. 

Desert Sun

A close-up view of Lupinus polyphyllus 'Desert Sun'. It appears straight and upright in its bright golden-yellow flower spikes. It stands out in contrast with the various green leaves in the background.
‘Desert Sun’ lupine boasts dense golden yellow flowers, attracting bees and butterflies.
botanical-name botanical name Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Desert Sun’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

This highly regarded English lupine variety features densely packed cones of golden yellow, pea-shaped flowers. They rise and flower in early summer on green-gray foliage and are highly attractive to bees and butterflies.

‘Desert Sun’ is a great choice for the middle of a border and is at home in the city and the country garden. Deadhead spent blooms after flowers have faded, and they will likely bloom again. 

Tequila Flame

A close-up shot of Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Tequila Flame’. It stands upright with a slight tilt, showcasing vibrant red and yellow flower spikes that stand out in contrast with the various green foliage.
‘Tequila Flame’ is suited to zones 5-8 as a perennial but can be grown as an annual plant elsewhere.
botanical-name botanical name Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Tequila Flame’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

This beautiful lupine cultivar offers large, dense spires with whorls of reddish-pink and butter-yellow flowers. ‘Tequila Flame’ prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Perform a soil test to determine if your beds need amending, and work some peat moss in to raise the acidity level if necessary. 

Perennial in zones 5 through 8, ‘Tequila Flame’ can also be grown from seed as an annual in cooler and warmer regions. It makes a nice thriller in a container arrangement and a lovely addition to the cutting garden.

Polar Princess

Close-up of blooming Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Polar Princess.’ It stands tall with a gentle incline, showcasing white to greenish flower spikes that create a striking contrast with the surrounding lush green foliage.
‘Polar Princess’ is ideal for moon gardens and can be propagated from seeds for a continuous bloom cycle.
botanical-name botanical name Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Polar Princess’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

A standout in any setting, this English hybrid features dense spikes of round, creamy-white flowers. Leaves are flat and wide, fanning out like fingers in a dense arrangement below flower heads.

Highly fragrant and deer resistant, ‘Polar Princess’ pairs well with just about any flower under the sun but looks particularly stunning in a moon garden or all-white palette. Although this cultivar has a relatively short life expectancy, seeds can be easily harvested and directly sown to keep the blooms coming for years. 

Manhattan Lights

A macro capture of Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Manhattan Lights’. It stands tall with vibrant yellow and purple flower spikes, set against a backdrop of long, slender green leaves with a central growth.
‘Manhattan Lights’ is a bee, butterfly, and hummingbird-friendly lupine with purple and gold flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Manhattan Lights’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

This lovely hybrid lupine has 3-12 inch spikes of tiny purple and gold flowers. A magnet for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, ‘Manhattan Lights’ rises on tall stems above glossy-green, palmate leaves. Flowers open from the bottom to the top in a succession that lasts for weeks. 

Plant large masses of this cultivar for a distinct cottage vibe, or use some in the center of a container arrangement to provide vertical structure. Although ‘Manhattan’ is perennial through zone 9, it will wilt in the hot afternoon sun. Provide some late shade, if possible, particularly in warmer regions.

An enchanting view of Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Gallery Yellow.’ They stand tall with a slight incline. The spring sunshine highlights their vibrant yellow flower spikes with hints of light green hues on top. They contrast beautifully with the green trees and the clear blue sky.
‘Gallery Yellow’ is a compact lupine perfect for cutting and encouraging more blooms in your garden.
botanical-name botanical name Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Gallery Yellow’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

A dwarf lupine, maxing out at about 15 inches, ‘Gallery Yellow’ features narrow racemes densely packed with pea-shaped flowers in multiple shades of yellow. Each plant produces 10-12 flower spikes. Stems and leaves are dark, glossy green for a lovely contrast.

Its blooms will open gradually from bottom to top and smell very sweet. If you’d like to bring some inside for a vase display, cut stems after three or four of the lowest flower rows have opened. Cutting will encourage lupines to send up another flush of flowers if you’re lucky. 

My Castle

A close-up of two Lupinus polyphyllus ‘My Castle’ plants. Their flowers resemble a triangular shape, with rich, full blooms of rose pink to burgundy at the bottom and light green growth on top. This creates a striking contrast with the surrounding green leaves.
‘My Castle’ is perfect for the back of your garden border and self-seeds for future blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Lupinus polyphyllus ‘My Castle’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-7

This striking hybrid lupine features narrow spires of rosy-red racemes that stand up to 4 feet tall. The leaves are bushy, bright, and shrub-like, with palmate leaves and strong stems. Flowers bloom for an extended period. 

‘My Castle’ works well in the back of a mixed border. Pair with other perennials in purple and gold hues for a jewel-toned garden palette. Expect this one to self-seed if flower heads are left on after blooming. 


A close-up of Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Masterpiece.’ The flower blooms transition from deep, rich red to burgundy to lighter shades of orange and peach. A few other Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Masterpiece’ plants are visible in the background.
‘Masterpiece’ is a pollinator-friendly lupine that prefers well-drained soil and protection from scorching afternoon sun.
botanical-name botanical name Lupinus polyphyllus ‘Masterpiece’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

This hybrid lupine is a multi-hued gem with whorls of tiny flowers in purple, magenta, and tangerine shades. Each one of the racemes can be up to 1 foot tall on a sturdy stem. The leaves are bright green and spade-shaped, fanning out from a central axis. 

‘Masterpiece’ blooms in late spring or early summer and is particularly attractive to pollinators. Choose locations without scorching afternoons, as they are prone to wilting and appreciate some shade late in the day. Make sure the soil drains well and is not prone to puddling

Bicolor Lupine

A macro close-up of Lupinus bicolor ‘Bicolor Lupine.’ They stand tall and upright with sturdy brown stems and striking blue to white flower spikes. Similar Lupinus bicolor ‘Bicolor Lupine’ plants are visible in the background against the green foliage.
This bicolored cultivar produces small spikes of violet-blue and white flowers that readily self-sow.
botanical-name botanical name Lupinus bicolor ‘Bicolor Lupine’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 4 inches to 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-9

This is a wildflower lupine and will spread like one, but we’ve included it on this list for gardeners with large properties who may want a lupine that will cover a lot of territory quickly. Not only will this one thrive in poor soil, but it will improve its nitrogen content. 

Flowers are daintier than many of this cultivar’s larger hybrid cousins but similar in form. Small spikes of violet-blue and white flowers wave in the breeze above bluish-green, slightly hairy leaves. 

Remember that seed pods explode at the end of the season and can self-sow at distances up to 20 feet. Caution should be taken to avoid planting ‘Bicolor’ in areas where it may jump into untended spaces. 

The Chatelaine

‘Gallery Pink’ lupine features sweetly scented, tightly packed blooms in baby pink and white on tall racemes with narrow, sword-shaped leaves.
This variety stands tall with bright pink to coral-white flower spikes.
botanical-name botanical name Lupinus polyphyllus ‘The Chatelaine’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-7

‘The Chatelaine’ produces sweetly scented racemes tightly packed with baby pink and white flowers. Its racemes are tall and narrow. The bright green tips turn pink only toward the very end of their blooming period. 

Leaves are narrow and thin, with more of a sword shape than other lupine foliage, while the stems are strong and dark. They hold up well to the elements without staking. This cultivar enjoys cool temperatures and is not a recommended perennial for zones in the hot South. 

Final Thoughts

If you want a lupine to grow in a controlled setting, search for perennial hybrids and select hardy cultivars in your zone. Be prepared for some unpredictable flowering behavior and a short lifespan, as many lupines will perennialize for just a few seasons.

While weeding your garden, keep an eye out for potential lupine sprouts since seeds will spread randomly and can migrate quite a bit from the original planting site. The initial leaves may be spade-shaped, but the second and third sets will be palmate, with five or six narrow fingers, just like adult lupine leaves. 

Do some homework to ensure lupines are not considered a nuisance or invasive plant in your region. As the genus thrives in less-than-ideal growing conditions, it spreads quickly and can sometimes crowd out other beneficial natives. 

A full cottage-style border incorporates tall trees in back, a variety of low shrubs, and finally, shorter perennials and annual flowers.

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