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Nebraska Lupine, Lupinus plattensis, is a great plant to use in your landscapes. This plant is a beautiful addition to any landscape, and will fit right in with any wildflower or native grass area you may have growing on your acreage. Because this particular lupine tends to grow quite well in the state, it is commonly called Nebraska lupine.

Lupinus plattensis is a beautiful wildflower that can be found throughout the state of Nebraska, but it will grow wild in western Nebraska because it prefers dry, sandy soil, which is found on the western side of the state. There are a lot of other lupines that can be grown on the eastern portion of the state as well. Some of the cultivar choices of lupines you can get from the seed companies, for lupine, include Russell hybrid mixed colors, Tutti Frutti, The Governor, Towering Inferno, and Desert Sun.

Lupine plants have palmately compound leaves, which means that their leaves fan out like fingers from your palm. They typically have 5-9 leaflets in each leaf. The leaves are hairy on the underside and smooth on the upper side of the leaf surface. Lupines are in the pea family so they have flowers that look like pea flowers. Lupine flowers are typically blue, purple, pink, white, or yellow but new varieties and hybrids come in many other colors. Lupine flowers, which typically bloom in June and July, are arranged along a stalk and the flower bunch can be from one-fourth to one-half of the entire plant height. The flower bunches stand up above the rest of the plant, making the flowers more noticeable. The majority of lupines, including Lupinus plattensis, grow to be 1-2 feet tall in clumps 1-2 feet across.

Lupinus plattensis is a wildflower that grows very well in native grass prairies and in wildflower groupings. The other varieties are adapted to a wider range of environments so they will tend to grow well in most soil types. Place plants in full sun. The newer cultivars should be placed in a location to protect them from hot summer winds and be kept fairly moist throughout the hot part of the summer.

Lupine should not be placed in areas where cattle forage because the plants are toxic to cattle. However, the seeds are a good food source for some game birds. It is a good plant to have if you are a beekeeper or you need bees to pollinate other crops because lupines attract a large number of bees for pollination.

Lupines are beautiful plants to have around your acreage, in your native grass prairie or wildflower garden, or anywhere else in your landscape. They are taller perennials that look nice planted along a building with shorter perennials or annuals placed in front of them. Nebraska lupine is an excellent choice for the western part of the state and there are many other cultivars to add many different colors to any landscape. The next time you are trying to find a taller perennial for the back portion of a garden or to get more color throughout your prairie, think of Lupine.

Nicole Stoner

University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension Educator Nicole Stoner shares timely information about plants you might consider incorporating in your acreage landscape. Some provide food for people or wildlife, while others bring a snap of color or texture to your land. This plant provides color and height to your prairie or flower beds.