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?
- easy to look after
- perennial though short lived, 2 to 5 years
- available in many colours
- 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
- 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
Given the weight of positive attributes I must like them.