These bright, towering blooms add plenty of cheer to the garden.

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When you need to add both height and color to the garden, look no further than lupines. These cheery cottage-garden favorites are native to the Southwestern United States and can grow in even difficult conditions. If you have challenging, poor soil in your yard and find that other flowers just can't thrive, lupines might be a good bet for you. Read on for more information on lupines, the towering blooms that will turn your yard into a cottage garden oasis.

Lupines
Credit: Johner Images/Getty Images

Growing Lupines

According to The New Southern Living Garden Book, "Lupines are found in a wide range of habitats, from alpine rocks to beach sand. Most lupines take poor soil, but hybrids prefer rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soil." Depending on the species, lupines need moderate to regular water. They do best in full sun or partial shade.

They're also known for their distinctive appearance. The New Southern Living Garden Book describes them this way: "Leaves are divided into many leaflets (like fingers of a hand), and sweet pea-shaped flowers are borne in dense spikes at stem ends." Bees are attracted to the flowers, but deer aren't known to browse them. Some species can grow as tall as 5 feet high, while others are more compact and grow to 1-2 feet tall.

Lupine Species

Many lupine species grow well in the South. Lupinus havardii, also known as bluebonnets, are one of the blooms for which the Lone Star State is famous. These Texas favorites take well to neglect and can pop up anywhere, as they thrive in arid, sandy conditions. Big Bend Bluebonnet is one of these. It's the tallest in its species, and its deep blue flowers can reach up to 3-4 feet tall, while Lupinus subcarnosus, which is known as the state flower of Texas, only grows to 1 foot tall. It has flowers with sky blue and white hues. Lupinus perennis is native to the Eastern United States and produces tall purple flowers that reach heights of 2 feet in late spring or early summer.

What's your favorite cottage garden bloom? Do you have any lupines growing in your garden this summer?