Lupins (Lupines USA)

Standing looking at the blue lupins today I tried to decide whether or not I like this plant, I know that my wife does, so does my neighbour, but do I?

Well, what’s good about them?

  • hardy
  • easy to look after
  • perennial though short lived, 2 to 5 years
  • available in many colours
  • architectural
  • few pests once established, but see below
  • provides a strong focal point in a bed
  • useful as a tall cut flower
  • attract pollinators
  • tall enough for back of borders, 3 to 4 feet, do not need to be staked
  • flower from April/May to end of August, but to achieve this they must be deadheaded
  • bees like the pollen

Tips

  • label it so that you know where it is when it has gone underground
  • feed with bone meal in autumn, this promotes root growth and strength, you will be rewarded in the following year, otherwise do not feed as it results excess green growth
  • watering isn’t necessary, it could rot the crown, see above re wet soil
  • propagate from basal cuttings in March/April and root in 50/50 compost and sharp sand – these will come true to colour, or from seed kept from the previous year, these won’t come true
  • division in spring is possible but difficult due to their long tap root
  • any soil but chalk or too wet
  • full sun to light shade
  • deadhead when about ¬†two thirds of the flowers on any stalk have died, this will encourage more, but smaller, flowers to follow
  • ideally leave dead foliage over winter to protect the crown, removing it as soon as the new shoots push through in spring
  • mulch the crown in areas liable to heavy frost
  • not recommended for container growing other than in a very large pot due to their long tap root and being top heavy

What’s not so good?

  • diseases – aphids on mature plants, slugs & snails for young plants
  • a bit ordinary, suburban, a hangover from the seventies some say
  • seed pods are large, noticeable & ugly – but you can cut the stalks out, see above for timing

Verdict

Given the weight of positive attributes I must like them.