A couple of years ago I decided I wanted to try growing lupins, also known as Lupines. I figured they must be hard to grow here in Syracuse, New York because we don’t see them in many gardens at all. I actually had a hard time finding a “ready-to-plant” lupin, but was able to grab one at our local market. I bought one plant to see how it would turn out, and in its first year it wasn’t really what I expected. The plant only displayed a few blooms that seemed to die out very quickly. So I decided to hit the internet to find out what I could do to get more out of the plant, and in its second year pictured above and below it’s one of the most attractive spring bloomers I have. Not only is it beautiful, but I also learned lupins have a few other advantages as well. So I’ve put together a list of some fun facts about lupins and also some growing tips below.
- There are over 200 species of lupins, and they are most diverse in North & South America.
- Lupins are tap-rooted members of the pea family.
- The legume seeds of lupins, or lupin beans, were extensively cultivated throughout the Roman Empire, and have been used for food for over 3000 years.
- Some strains of lupin, such as the yellow bush lupin are considered invasive weeds.
- There are only a few varieties that are grown in home gardens, most notably the Russell Hybrid Lupine that were developed by a gardener named George Russell.
- Lupins attract pollinators such as butterflies, and their larva, bees of all types, and hummingbirds.
- Lupins can be grown from seed sown straight from the plant, or from old seeds. Old seeds should be pre-soaked.
- If you grow “ready-to-plant” lupins the plants should be very young so they can develop a deep tap-root.
- Lupins don’t like to be moved so be sure to plant them in a permanent spot.
- If you must divide your lupins do it in the spring.
- You can take basal cuttings April-May for propagation as an alternative to dividing.
- Lupins grown in full sun offer the best blooms.
- They should be grown in well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
- Fertilize your lupins with a simple all-purpose fertilizer once every two weeks until they flower.
- You should deadhead spent flowers for longer life (I am going to let the last spikes go to seed to see if they will spread on their own).
- You can cut them back after flowering to see if you can get more blooms, but it takes a long time, better to cut them back in the fall.
- Aphids may attack your lupin, so do your best to attract or acquire some ladybugs.
- Slugs and snails love lupins so be sure to pay close attention and take action if they attack!
So that’s my list of facts and tips, I hope you found the facts interesting and the tips helpful. Lupins are really easy to grow and offer amazing, colorful spring blooms. I love attracting pollinators so there’s that benefit as well. Do you have any additional tips for me? If so I’d love to hear…
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