How to care for lupins

Written by linda batey
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How to care for lupins
Lupins come in an array of dazzling colours. (kongxinzhu/iStock/Getty Images)

With their distinctive peppery scent, tall spires of complicated flowers and neat growing structure, lupins will appeal to all of your senses. Be prepared to do some spade work if you want hearty wild lupins because their root systems are extensive. Alternatively, you can typically buy lupines or seeds from garden centres and nurseries ready to plant.

Skill level:
Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Dig straight down beside the wild lupin plant, and then dig around it, carefully avoiding the long, thick taproot. For a fully mature plant, you can expect at least a 30 cm taproot. After removing as much of the dirt as you can, reach down as far as you can on the root and pull straight up. Plan to replant as soon as possible in a large hole with good composted soil. Give the transplant a nice soaking with water, but don't expect much from the plant that year. It will be busy making firm roots beneath the soil. Skip this step if you prefer to buy lupins ready to plant from a garden centre.

    How to care for lupins
    Lupins grown in a tall conical shape. (Aniya4you/iStock/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Buy stock lupin plants at a reliable nursery or garden centre if you want colour variety. Lupins are available in an array of colours, such as white, pink, red, yellow, lavender, deep purple and bi-colours (white and one other colour on the same blossom). Plant in early spring in a place where they will receive at least six hours of sunshine daily. Plant them at least 38 cm apart to avoid overcrowding and to provide each root with space to grow.

  3. 3

    Give the plants plenty of water through the summer months. Aphids love lupins -- the best choice is to try and attract ladybirds to remove these pests; otherwise, spray them with a light solution of water, vinegar and a few drops of dishwasher liquid. After the flowers have faded, cut off the blooms. This is called "deadheading," something just about every plant needs.

Tips and warnings

  • If you decide to start lupins from seeds, be prepared for a fairly high failure rate. To start seeds, nick each seed with a sharp knife to help it germinate and soak the seeds overnight in water before planting them. Keep the soil warm at around 22C to facilitate germination. When the seedlings get their third leaf, move them to a much cooler area that provides bright light. Transplant outdoors or in larger pots when the seedlings are 10 cm tall.
  • There is no need to give lupins fertiliser as long as they have adequate sun and water.

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