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False Lupine

Thermopsis villosa

You'll love the sunny spires of yellow, pea-type flowers that resemble true lupines. The fingered leaves catch raindrops and hold them like pearls. Plants thrive in average soil, but resent being transplanted.

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Light:

Part Sun, Sun

Type:

Height:

From 1 to 8 feet

Width:

2 to 3 feet

Foliage Color:

Seasonal Features:

Problem Solvers:

Zones:

4-9

Propagation

Long-Lived Perennial

False lupine, also called Carolina lupine, is native to the Southeast. Much more tolerant of heat and humidity than true lupine, false lupine blooms for several weeks in spring, sending up erect spikes of showy, bright yellow pea-shape flowers that resemble those of true lupine. Flowers are followed by brown seedpods nestled in the upright, grayish-green foliage. It is a great plant for perennial borders, cottage gardens, wildflower gardens, and cutting gardens. Once established, it will thrive in a planting location for many years. Note: This plant was formerly known as Thermopsis caroliniana. It is sometimes still sold under that name.

Discover all the elements you need to create the coziest cottage garden here.

Plant a Wildflower Garden

False lupine is a favorite among pollinators. Make the most of this quality by planting it—along with other nectar-rich plants—in a wildflower garden that beckons butterflies and bees to your backyard while supplying you with vast quantities of cut flowers. Consider these classics: black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.), goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus), goldenrod (Solidago speciosa), penstemon (Penstemon digitalis), and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). For more options, check with your local extension service about native wildflowers in your area.

False Lupine Care Must-Knows

False lupine grows best in full sun or part shade and rich, well-drained soil (but is somewhat tolerant of sandy or clay loam). This clump-forming perennial is both drought-tolerant and deer-resistant.

To propagate false lupine from seed, allow its seedpods to dry on the plant. Break the pods open to collect seeds, then store them in refrigerated containers. Sow seeds inside about 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost. Plant transplants after the last frost and water them regularly during the first growing season to encourage a strong root system. Be careful where you put them, though; young plants spend so much energy developing strong taproots that they become difficult to move once they're mature.

False lupine blooms in late spring or early summer and occasionally requires staking. Keep it standing tall by sinking a tall bamboo stake into the soil alongside the plant. Gently tie the flower spikes to the stake with garden twine. Cut back the flower spike after the blossoms fade to encourage a second round of flowering.

See more perennial problem-solvers.

Plant False Lupine With:

Bachelor's button
Bachelor's button is a sweet little flower, reseeding freely here and there in your garden, adding a bright touch of true, clear blue wherever it chooses to sprout. This easy-growing annual produces papery flowers atop tall stems; the blooms are great for cutting and drying.The plant is happiest in sandy loam. It doesn't need much, if any fertilizer, and tolerates drought, but prefers moderate moisture. Plant from seed directly in the garden after the last frost in your region. Space to 6-12 inches apart. Deadhead after the first flush of bloom to encourage a second flush. But if you want lots of reseeding next year, allow some flowers at some point to ripen on the plant and go to seed.
Shasta daisy
Easy, always fresh, and always eye-catching, Shasta daisy is a longtime favorite. All cultivars produce white daisy flowers in various degrees of doubleness and size. The sturdy stems and long vase life make the flowers unbeatable for cutting. Shasta daisy thrives in well-drained, not overly rich soil. Taller sorts may need staking.
Bluestar
Amsonia is one of those plants that will make people stop in their tracks and ask what it is. At its peak in mid- to late spring, amsonia is adorned by stunning clusters of powder blue flowers. The show doesn't stop there, however. Its mound of foliage remains attractive all summer long, and as fall approaches, it turns a lovely golden hue. Although the seed pods that develop are attractive, remove them before they mature to prevent self-seeding.
Phlox
Phlox are one of those bounteous summer flowers any large sunny flowerbed or border shouldn't be without. There are several different kinds of phlox. Garden and meadow phlox produce large panicles of fragrant flowers in a wide assortment of colors. They also add height, heft, and charm to a border. Low-growing wild Sweet William, moss pinks, and creeping phlox are effective as ground covers, at the front of the border, and as rock and wild garden plants, especially in light shade. These native gems have been hybridized extensively especially to toughen the foliage against mildew problems; many recent selections are mildew-resistant. Phlox need amply moist soil for best overall health.
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