Lupins provide candles of flowers and their peppery scent seems to lure in Bumble Bees. Lupins are tap-rooted members of the pea family and therefore difficult to divide into many pieces. They are not long lived, they may last for seven or eight years – they make up for this by setting a lot of seeds, although the seedlings can be very variable. The flowering Lupin is a perennial plant, although among the almost three hundred species there are a few outlying woody trees and shrubs. Many gardeners treat Lupins as a biennial because they seem to die out after flowering the second year. Some varieties are more reliably perennial than others, so look for that when purchasing. Lupins do best in full sun, in well-drained average fertility soil.
Easily started from seed, it is best to start lupin seeds indoors in late winter, allowing them to grow to a nice sized plant before setting out in spring. They prefer good garden loam, a sunny location and adequate moisture while growing. After they have flowered, they tend to go dormant and therefore don’t need the rainfall that a vital plant would. However by dead-heading (removing the spent flowers before they set seed) and by watering and lightly fertilizing them, they will re-bloom but more sparsely through the summer.
How to grow lupins
- Plant when young – so that they can put down a good root system – in an open position away from trees.
- Never divide in autumn.
- They prefer well-drained soil which isn’t too rich.
- Lupins do not take too kindly to being chopped back hard after flowering – they take months to recover.
- If you have a good plant, don’t let it produce lots of seeds. Keep the vigour in the parent plant and deadhead as the flowers fade.