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How to grow lupins - Lupin 'Beefeater'

How to grow lupins

Published: Friday, 27 May, 2022 at 7:39 am
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All you need to know about growing lupins, with sowing, planting and growing advice, plus varieties to try.

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Lupins are a cottage-garden favourite, offering height and colour to the middle of a border in May and June. They bear impressive, pea-like flowers, which are loved by bumblebees. They make a perfect cut flower.

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How to grow lupins at home

Plant lupins in full sun to partial shade, in moist but well-drained soil. Protect young plants from slugs and snails. Cut the flowers back after blooming and propagate from basal cuttings in spring.

More on growing lupins:

See below for more detailed advice on growing lupins.


Where to grow lupins

How to grow lupins - where to grow lupins
How to grow lupins - where to grow lupins

Lupins do best in full sun or dappled shade, in moist but well-drained soil. Like many other perennials with tall flowers, lupins benefit from a sheltered position.

Grow them towards the back of a border. Avoid planting them in containers as they grow weakly and can be susceptible to aphid attacks – they grow much better in the ground.

Although a traditional cottage garden plant, lupins can be planted in more contemporary planting schemes. Try growing them in large drifts among ornamental grasses, for an unusual effect.

Where to buy lupins online

Crocus - Available in a range of colours, either as seeds, 9cm or 2 litre pots. Top picks include the unusual coppery tones of 'Salmon Star', or the elegant cool shades of 'Persian Slipper'.

Suttons - Buy as single variety plants or as mixed collections. Go for the sultry 'My Castle Red', which is perfect for a hot border.

Waitrose - A lovely choice of colours, available in 9cm or 2 litre pots. Highlights include the ever-popular 'Rachel de Thame' and 'Cashmere Cream'.


How to plant lupins

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.


How to propagate lupins

How to grow lupins - sowing lupin seeds

Lupins do not come true to type from seed, so lupins grown from seed are likely to flower in 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 lupins is by taking basal cuttings in spring. Lupins will also self-seed in the garden, so lifting the seedlings with a garden trowel and potting them on, in is also a great way to generate new plants.


Growing lupins: problem solving

Spring shoots of lupins are prone to slug and snail damage, so be vigilant against attack. Protect lupins with copper tape or wildlife-friendly slug pellets, or pick slugs and snails off the plants every evening. The lupin aphid (Macrosiphum albifrons) can also be a problem for lupins. These grey aphids can form large colonies and gradually weaken the plant. Birds and other predators should manage aphid infestations naturally but if you don't see signs of the colonies abating, cut off very infested flower spikes and spray with blast of water from your hose. You can use chemical control, but bear in mind that these chemicals also harm, and can kill, bees.


Caring for lupins

Deadheading spent lupin flowers
How to grow lupins - deadheading a lupin

Deadhead lupins once flowers have faded and you should be rewarded with a second flush of flowers. In autumn, cut lupins right back to the ground after collecting seed. Lupins are not long-lived plants – expect to replace plants after about six years.

More like this

Watch this video featuring Debbie Copeman, from Glebelands Nursery, as she reveals her three top tips on caring for lupins, including how to keep away slugs and aphids:


Great lupins to grow:

How to grow lupins - great lupins to grow:
How to grow lupins - great lupins to grow:
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