Lupins enjoy full sun or dappled shade. The ideal soil is moist but well-drained and can be acid, chalky or neutral. Like many other perennials with tall flowers, they will benefit from a sheltered position.
The back or middle of a border is ideal. Avoid planting them in containers as they are far more successful in the garden. Planted in containers, the growth is often weak which leaves them open to attack from aphids.
Although a very traditional plant, lupins can be planted to create a modern look. Plant in large drifts running through ornamental grasses for an unusual effect.
Dig a planting hole in a well-drained soil. Plant and firm in place. Water and provide a plant support if planting in summer. Young plants tend to establish better in the garden than larger, more mature specimens.
Lupins do not come true to type from seed, so seed packets are likely to be a mix of colours. Lupins can be divided in spring (not autumn) but division can be tricky as plants have a strong central tap root. The easiest way to propagate plants is by basal cuttings taken in spring. Watch our video guide to taking basal cuttings from a range of plants. Lupins will self-seed in the garden so lifting the seedling with a garden trowel and potting them in is also a great way of generating new plants.
Before propagating lupins and other plants, check that they are not protected by plant breeders' rights.
The new spring shoots of lupins are tempting to slugs and snails so be vigilant and protect them, otherwise they will be munched. However, the main enemy of the lupin is the lupin aphid (Macrosiphum albifrons). They are grey aphids that are spotted on plants anytime between April and September. To control cut off very badly infested flower spikes and spray with a chemical control. Aphids can be rubbed off by hand or with a blast of water, but this is a labour of love.