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How To Grow Lupins

Classic cottage-garden plants, Lupins are undemanding herbaceous perennials which produce bold spires of colour from a bed of lush foliage in May and June. They also work well in contemporary planting schemes with grasses and airy-looking plants, and in the centre of borders where they will attract bumblebees with their pea-like flowers.

Lupins are available in a large range of colours, from fresh white to soft pinks and peaches, vibrant reds and yellows, to dark and moody purples. There is a Lupin to suit every garden!

We sell Lupins as bare roots, young plants, and potted plants. The Gallery series grow to around 60cm tall, and some of the larger varieties such as the West Country collection can grow to 1m tall. There are also evergreen varieties which can reach a height of 2m tall.

Key Information

Position: Full sun to partial-shade

Soil: Moist but well-drained. Prefers neutral to acid pH

Flowering Period: May and June

Hardiness: Hardy perennial

Where & When to Plant Lupins

At Hayloft, we sell Lupins as bare roots, young plants, and potted plants.

All 3 types can be planted directly into the ground providing it is not frozen or waterlogged. Spring and autumn are the best time to plant out.

You may wish to grow bare roots or younger plants on in pots first, undercover in a greenhouse or cold frame before planting out when conditions allow and the plants are larger.

Younger plants tend to establish better than large plants in the garden. Lupins are members of the legume family, which means they have a large central tap root which, if disturbed, may not grow as well once resituated. They can be grown in pots, but form much larger and healthier plants if planted directly in the soil. Dwarf or annual Lupins are better suited to pots than the herbaceous perennial varieties.

Lupins will tolerate some shade but prefer a sunny spot which is sheltered from wind, particularly the taller varieties. Space your plants at least 30-45cm apart if you are planting several of them.

How To Plant Lupins

1.

Dig a hole twice the width and depth of your plant and add some drainage in the form of a thick layer of grit to the bottom of the planting hole if your ground tends to be wet and waterlogged.

2.

Next, add some organic matter to get your plants off to a good start – homemade compost, bonemeal, or a handful of chicken manure pellets is perfect.

3.

Tease your Lupin out of its container and gently loosen the roots before placing in the hole at the same depth as it sat in the pot.

4.

Fill in around the edges of the plant with soil and gently firm in before watering well.

What To Plant With Lupins

Lupins are showy plants which stand out from the crowd and are best placed in the middle or back of the border where their vivid blooms can shine. There are many plants which look great next to the versatile and timeless Lupin. A few complimentary companions are suggested below.




How To Care For Lupins

 Pruning & Deadheading

 

When the lower flowers at the base of the spikes start to die, deadhead your blooms taking care not to remove the smaller buds appearing below. These new buds will soon produce smaller, more delicate blooms which extend the flowering season. Allow the foliage to die down naturally over autumn and winter. In spring, when new shoots emerge, the old foliage can be removed.

 Watering

 

Once established, Lupins do not need feeding or watering (unless in periods of drought) as their roots have nitrogen-fixing nodules, and their large taproot is excellent at taking up water.

 Cold Protection

 

As a general rule Lupins are hardy plants but some more so than others so do double-check on your specific variety. They prefer a well-drained soil and will not tolerate winter cold and wet this will cause them to rot down and die. So, if your soil is particularly water-logged in winter, it may be wise to grow your lupins in containers and bring them into a cold greenhouse over winter. This is because all container plants are more susceptible to frost as they lack the insulation provided by surrounding soil in the ground. All varieties will benefit from a winter mulch to protect the crown and add nutrients to the soil.

 Pests & Diseases

 

If slugs and snails are a problem, try to avoid using slug pellets as these are harmful to wildlife. Instead, encourage wildlife such as birds, frogs, and toads to your garden to keep your slug and snail numbers down. A layer of grit or eggshells around the base of your plants, or beer-traps can act as good natural repellents.

Lupin aphid (Macrosiphum albifrons) can sometimes be an issue. If these large grey aphids do discover your plants and begin to colonise you might notice small birds visiting and feasting on them. If the aphids start to become a problem, they will weaken your plants. Cut off and destroy any severely affected flower spikes and use a strong hose to wash off the rest of the insects. You will need to do this relentlessly, once or twice a day to get them under control. Avoid using pesticides as these are very harmful to bees which will be feeding often on your flowers.

How To Propagate Lupins

1.

1. Using a sharp knife, remove a few strong shoots, approximately 10cm long from the base of the plant.

2.

2. Remove any larger leaves from your cuttings with a clean sharp knife and pot them immediately into a small pot of compost with plenty of added perlite and sand. You can place 3 or 4 around the edge of a pot.

3.

3. Place the pot on a warm windowsill or greenhouse and once you notice roots appearing at the base of the container, your cuttings are ready to pot on. Carefully tip your cuttings out and without disturbing the roots too much, pot each one on into its own container to grow on, ideally in a greenhouse before hardening off and planting outside.

4.

4. If flower spikes are left to mature on the plants, then seeds will form and drop onto the surrounding soil. These often germinate naturally and the seedlings can be carefully dug up with a trowel and potted on to grow larger before being planted out in the garden. You can also collect seed from the plants yourself and sow them undercover in spring in pots of loamy compost. They should germinate in 10-14 days at 10-15°C. Lupins grown from seed do not always come true to the original plant.

Common Lupin Questions

Can you grow lupins in pots?

Yes, lupins happily grow in pots. Be sure to choose a fairly large pot though, otherwise you risk limiting the growth.

Will lupins grow in shade?

Lupins will grow in shade but flowering will be poor in comparison to a plant in full sun.

How long do lupins take to grow?

Lupins can germinate within 10-15 days of being planted and will usually bloom within their first year..

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