How to grow lupins

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When left to nature, lupins fill ditches and blanket hillsides with magnificent blooms that appear to grow in spirals of pink, purple and white. These gorgeous flowers bloom in late spring and early summer, painting the landscape with splashes of pretty pastels or the more commercialised striking reds.

Once established, they are carefree and will return bigger and stronger every year.

Choose a location for lupins that is away from other plants and allows plenty of room for them to spread. The back or side of a flower garden where they can spread freely is ideal. A hillside covered with lupins will create a dramatic display of colour.

Plant lupins in full sun (six or more hours of direct sun) or in partial shade. Lupins do not require rich soil. In fact, they prefer dry, sandy soil with good drainage. Lupins thrive in poor soil as they are able to create their own nitrogen from the soil.

Gather seeds from existing plants or buy them online, from a seed catalogue or a garden centre.

Soak seeds overnight in warm water to speed up germination.

Broadcast seeds over lightly worked soil in early autumn and let them germinate naturally. As a wild flower, lupins normally drop seed and reproduce without the seeds being covered with soil.

Start seeds in early spring in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill for spring planting. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours prior to planting. Plant to a depth of 6 mm (1/4 inch) and set in indirect light. Keep the soil evenly moist until seedlings emerge in 2 to 3 weeks. Transplant into a permanent location after the danger of late spring frost has passed.

Transplant existing lupins found along ditches or growing wild on hillsides. This is best done in early spring. Be sure to dig deeply so as not to disturb the lupin's long taproot. Replant as soon as possible for best results. Water thoroughly and watch for signs of wilting.

Root cuttings of new growth on lupins in late spring or early summer. Once the roots have developed and you see signs of new growth, plant in the desired location.

Water lupins sparingly during the growing season. Unless you experience drought conditions, they do not require additional watering and will thrive on their own.