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Garden Lupin

Lupinus polyphyllus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fabaceae (Pea)
Also in this family:
Alpine Milk-vetch, Alsike Clover, Birdsfoot, Birdsfoot Clover, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Bithynian Vetch, Bitter Vetch, Black Broom, Black Medick, Bladder Senna, Broad Bean, Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea, Bur Medick, Burrowing Clover, Bush Vetch, Clustered Clover, Common Broom, Common Gorse, Common Laburnum, Common Restharrow, Common Vetch, Crimson Clover, Crown Vetch, Dragon's Teeth, Dwarf Gorse, Dyer's Greenweed, False Acacia, Fine-leaved Vetch, Fodder Vetch, Garden Pea, Goat's Rue, Grass Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Greenweed, Hairy Tare, Hairy Vetchling, Hairy-fruited Broom, Haresfoot Clover, Hop Trefoil, Horseshoe Vetch, Hungarian Vetch, Kidney Vetch, Knotted Clover, Large Trefoil, Lesser Trefoil, Lucerne, Marsh Pea, Meadow Vetchling, Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil, Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea, Narrow-leaved Vetch, Nootka Lupin, Norfolk Everlasting Pea, Orange Birdsfoot, Petty Whin, Purple Milk-vetch, Purple Oxytropis, Red Clover, Reversed Clover, Ribbed Melilot, Rough Clover, Russell Lupin, Sainfoin, Scorpion Senna, Scottish Laburnum, Sea Clover, Sea Pea, Sickle Medick, Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil, Slender Tare, Slender Trefoil, Small Melilot, Small Restharrow, Smooth Tare, Spanish Broom, Spanish Gorse, Spiny Restharrow, Spotted Medick, Spring Vetch, Strawberry Clover, Suffocated Clover, Sulphur Clover, Tall Melilot, Toothed Medick, Tree Lupin, Tuberous Pea, Tufted Vetch, Twin-headed Clover, Two-flowered Everlasting Pea, Upright Clover, Upright Vetch, Western Clover, Western Gorse, White Broom, White Clover, White Lupin, White Melilot, Wild Liquorice, Wood Vetch, Yellow Oxytropis, Yellow Vetch, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, meadows, mountains, parks, riverbanks, riversides, roadsides, seaside, wasteland, waterside, woodland.

Variable in colour, 5 petals
Garden Lupin boasts an exquisite display of flowers that is both visually captivating and diverse in color. The blossoms are arranged in tall, elongated spikes, creating a stunning vertical presence in gardens and natural landscapes. The individual flowers are characterized by a distinctive pea-like shape with a banner, wings, and keel, showcasing intricate details upon closer inspection. The color palette of Garden Lupin flowers is broad and includes shades of purple, blue, pink, red, white, and yellow, with some varieties featuring bi-colored blooms. The foliage provides an attractive backdrop to the vibrant flowers, comprising palmate leaves divided into numerous leaflets. The overall effect of Garden Lupin's flowers is a breathtaking symphony of hues, making it a prized ornamental plant that adds both charm and elegance to its surroundings.
The fruit of the Garden Lupin takes the form of elongated seed pods that develop after the flowering stage, adding a unique element to the plant's visual appeal. These slender pods, often reaching several inches in length, contain the lupin seeds and are densely packed along the vertical flower spikes. The pods are covered in fine hairs, giving them a textured appearance. As the season progresses, the green pods gradually mature and change color, transitioning to a light brown or tan hue. When fully ripened, the pods split open, releasing the small, round seeds within. Each seed is smooth and can vary in color, typically ranging from beige to light brown. The fruiting stage of the Garden Lupin not only contributes to the plant's overall aesthetic interest but also plays a crucial role in its reproductive cycle, ensuring the continuation of this captivating and resilient species.
The foliage of the Garden Lupin is a key element of its ornamental allure. The plant features palmate leaves arranged in a whorled fashion, creating a lush and distinctive appearance. Each leaf is composed of numerous leaflets radiating from a central point, resembling the fingers of an open hand. The individual leaflets are finely serrated along the edges, adding a delicate texture to the overall leaf structure. The leaves are typically deep green in color, providing a rich backdrop to the vibrant floral display when in bloom. The foliage not only contributes to the plant's aesthetic appeal but also plays a functional role in photosynthesis, supporting the overall health and vitality of the Garden Lupin.
Garden Lupin (Lupinus polyphyllus) is renowned for its captivating visual display rather than its fragrance, as the plant's blossoms are generally not known for emitting a distinct scent. Unlike some other flowering plants that rely on fragrance to attract pollinators, Garden Lupin relies primarily on its vibrant colors and pea-like floral structure for visual appeal. While the absence of a noticeable fragrance doesn't diminish its allure, the Garden Lupin enchants admirers with its stunning array of colors and gracefully arranged blooms. The focus on visual aesthetics makes it an ideal choice for gardeners seeking vibrant and visually striking additions to their landscapes without the reliance on aromatic elements.
Other Names:
Bigleaf Lupine, Big-leaved Lupine, Blue-pod Lupine, Bog Lupine, Garden Lupine, Large-leaved Lupine, Many-leaved Lupine, Meadow Lupine.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Lupinus polyphyllus, commonly known as the large-leaved lupine, is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to the western United States and Canada. It is known for its spikes of brightly colored flowers in shades of blue, purple, pink, red, and yellow, which typically bloom in late spring to early summer. The plant has large, palmate leaves, which is why it gets its name "polyphyllus" which means many leaves. The plant prefers well-drained soil, full sun or partial shade and it is hardy in zones 4-9. It can be found growing in the wild in meadows, along streams, and in open woods. It is also a popular choice for gardens due to its showy flowers and attractive foliage.


The Garden Lupin, also known by its scientific name Lupinus polyphyllus, is a beautiful perennial plant that is native to North America. This plant is widely popular for its showy and colourful spikes of flowers that bloom in shades of blue, pink, purple, and white. In this blog, we will explore some of the fascinating facts about the Garden Lupin, its characteristics, and its care requirements.


The Garden Lupin is a hardy and versatile plant that grows up to a height of 3-4 feet and spreads up to 1-2 feet wide. It is a herbaceous perennial that features green, palmate leaves that are divided into 7-11 leaflets. The plant bears a tall spike of flowers that are densely arranged in whorls. The blooms appear in late spring and early summer and can last for up to a month.

The flowers of the Garden Lupin are pea-shaped and grow up to 1 inch long. They are arranged in a cone-like structure that can be up to 10 inches long. The colours of the blooms vary depending on the cultivar, ranging from blue, purple, pink, and white.

Care Requirements

The Garden Lupin is an easy-to-grow plant that requires minimal maintenance. It prefers a sunny location and well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. The plant is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, but it does not do well in wet or poorly-drained soils.

The Garden Lupin should be watered regularly, especially during the growing season. However, the plant should not be overwatered as it can lead to root rot. To promote healthy growth, the plant should be fertilized once a year with a balanced fertilizer.

One of the best things about the Garden Lupin is that it does not require much pruning. The plant should be deadheaded after blooming to encourage the growth of new blooms. Additionally, the plant should be cut back to the ground in the fall after the foliage has died back.


The Garden Lupin can be propagated through seed or division. The seeds can be sown in the spring or fall, and they should be planted in well-drained soil. The plant can also be propagated through division, which should be done in the spring or fall.


The Garden Lupin is a beautiful and low-maintenance plant that is perfect for gardens and landscapes. Its vibrant and showy blooms are sure to brighten up any space, and its ease of care makes it a popular choice among gardeners. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, the Garden Lupin is a plant that is worth considering for your garden.

Some facts about the Garden Lupin

Here are some additional interesting facts about the Garden Lupin:

  1. Symbolism: The Garden Lupin is a symbol of imagination, creativity, and positive energy. In many cultures, the plant is associated with good luck, happiness, and prosperity.

  2. Medicinal properties: The Garden Lupin has several medicinal properties and has been used for centuries to treat various ailments. The plant contains alkaloids that are believed to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

  3. Attracts pollinators: The Garden Lupin is a great plant for attracting pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The plant's colourful blooms and sweet fragrance make it a popular choice among these insects and birds.

  4. Different cultivars: The Garden Lupin comes in a variety of cultivars that differ in size, colour, and growth habit. Some of the popular cultivars include Gallery Blue, Manhattan Lights, The Chatelaine, and The Governor.

  5. Sustainable farming: The Garden Lupin is an important crop for sustainable farming. The plant is used as a nitrogen fixer and can help to improve soil fertility. Additionally, the seeds of the plant can be used to produce a variety of food products, including flour, protein powder, and dairy alternatives.

In conclusion, the Garden Lupin is a beautiful and versatile plant that has many uses and benefits. Whether you are looking to add some colour to your garden or improve soil fertility on your farm, the Garden Lupin is definitely worth considering. With its low-maintenance care requirements and stunning blooms, it is a plant that is sure to delight and impress.

More Facts

Here's more information about the Garden Lupin:

  1. History and Origin: The Garden Lupin is native to North America, particularly in the western regions of the United States and Canada. It was introduced to Europe in the 19th century as an ornamental plant, and since then, it has become a popular garden plant in many parts of the world.

  2. Cultural significance: In some Native American cultures, the Garden Lupin was used as a traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including rheumatism and tuberculosis. The plant was also used in rituals and ceremonies, and it was believed to have spiritual and healing properties.

  3. Pest and Disease Resistance: The Garden Lupin is generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, it can be susceptible to aphids, slugs, and snails. To prevent these pests from damaging the plant, gardeners should regularly inspect the plant and take appropriate measures, such as spraying with insecticides or using organic pest control methods.

  4. Wildlife habitat: The Garden Lupin is a valuable plant for creating wildlife habitats. The plant provides food and shelter for a variety of animals, including bees, butterflies, and birds. Additionally, the plant's deep root system can help to stabilize soil and prevent erosion.

  5. Toxicity: While the Garden Lupin is generally safe for humans, it can be toxic to some animals, particularly livestock. The plant contains alkaloids that can cause poisoning if ingested in large quantities. Therefore, it is important to keep the plant away from grazing animals and to take appropriate measures to prevent accidental ingestion.

In summary, the Garden Lupin is a versatile and attractive plant that has many benefits for gardens, landscapes, and wildlife habitats. Its ease of care, pest resistance, and cultural significance make it a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers. With its stunning blooms and rich history, the Garden Lupin is a plant that is sure to impress and delight.


Garden Lupins filmed at Kirklees Nature Reserve, Wigan, Lancashire on the 9th June 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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