Can lupines be successfully grown in Iowa?

Question: 

Can lupines be successfully grown in Iowa?

Answer: 

True lupines (Lupinus species), such as the Russell hybrids, are grown for their attractive, erect, 1- to 2-foot-long flower stalks.  Unfortunately, the Russell hybrids and most other lupines don’t perform well in Iowa.  Lupines prefer moist, well-drained soils and cool temperatures.  Because of our hot, dry summers, lupines tend to be short-lived perennials in the state. 

While true lupines are difficult to grow in Iowa, the Carolina lupine (Thermopsis villosa) and false blue indigo (Baptisia australis) are well adapted to the state and produce colorful, lupine-like flower stalks.  The Carolina lupine produces bright yellow, pea-like flowers on erect, 6- to 12-inch-long flower stalks in late spring.  Plants have gray-green to green foliage and grow 3 to 4 feet tall.  False blue indigo produces indigo blue flowers on 8- to 12-inch-long flower stalks in spring.  Plants grow 3 to 5 feet tall with a spread of 4 or more feet.  Its foliage is blue-green. 

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