When we first moved into our home our yard was raw. I mean there was absolutely nothing but weeds growing on it. Eventually we had to mow the weeds and start working on the yard. As we were pulling all the weeds I noticed a “weed” that looked really lovely, but I had no idea what it was, so I picked it off with the rest of them. A few weeks later, I saw the few surviving “pretty weeds” bloom with beautiful wild flowers. I felt terrible about picking them off, so I decided to do a bit of research about these flowers.
Turns out these beautiful wild flowers are blue lupine. Fun facts about blue lupine:
- Blue Lupine is considered a Nitrogen Fixing plant. This means the plant is able to provide nutrients (nitrogen) to the surrounding soil.
- Blue Lupine is essential to the growth of the Karner Blue butterfly population. This butterfly is an endangered species.
- The plant is a member of the pea family.
As soon as I learned a bit more about Blue Lupine, I was determined to save the plants I had as well as harvest the seeds for future planting. I live in central CA and the plants began growing in early spring. Their flowers peaked around March – early April and the whole plant began to fade in May.
My seeds were ready to harvest mid May and I had so many seeds, I stopped picking them before the month was over.
Let’s get to the topic of this blog post: How do you harvest Blue Lupine seeds.
As the flowers begin to die you’ll notice pods begin to grow and take their place. The pods look a bit like pea pods (they’re a member of the same family after all), but don’t be confused, these plants are not safe to eat and can even be poisonous to pets.
These pods are where you will find Blue Lupine seeds. The trick to harvesting them is to be patient and wait until the plant is virtually dry before harvesting the seeds. Wait too long and you may miss your chance. These pods will pop and release the seeds when they are ready. Here is an image from an early Lupine haul. You can see the pods that curled because they popped before I harvested the seeds. How will you know the pod is ready to open? Simple, tap it lightly and you’ll hear the seeds lose inside. If they pods are brown and dry, and you can hear the seeds when you tap them lightly, then they are ready to be opened.
I picked a few branches late in the season and left them in a paper bag overnight. The next morning many of the pods had popped saving me a lot of work.
Harvesting Lupine seeds is only the beginning as they take anywhere from 15 – 75 days to sprout.
How do you sprout Blue Lupine seeds?
It’s a bit of a process and these are picky plants, but the blooms are beautiful, so you won’t be disappointed.
The climate is right when outside temperatures reach over 55 Fahrenheit overnight. For my region in California that’s probably in Late February/early March.
- Start by placing the seeds in a plastic bag with moist paper towels and placing them in the refrigerator. Wait 7 days.
- Blue Lupine seeds require scarfication for proper germination. Meaning, the outer shell of the seeds needs to be nicked to allow the plant to grow. This can be done with sand paper, a nail file, with small knife (VERY carefully) or nail clippers. Go ahead and scarficate your seeds.
- Place the seeds in warm water and allow them to soak for 3 hours.
- The Lupine seeds that sink to the bottom are ready to plant. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the floaters.
Here are the steps you need to follow to plant your Blue Lupine seeds.
- Till the soil to a depth of 12-20 inches in an area that is mostly sunny. Lupines like dry and sandy soil, so make sure you break up the soil and rake it smooth.
- Lay the seeds on top of the soil about a foot apart and cover them with 1/8 in of soil. Water lightly and keep the soil moist through germination. Lupine will take anywhere between 15-75 days to sprout.
Warning! Lupine cannot be transplanted it will not survive.
Phew, that was quite a process! Are you ready to start growing Blue Lupine in your yard? Check out my Etsy store for this year’s harvest.